Let’s pick-up where we left off last week and take a closer look at Alison, Max, and Dave’s reactions to losing a client.
Here’s a quick recap:
After Alison, Max, and Dave lost a client, Alison returned to her desk and was feeling so angry that she began writing a heated e-mail to her team members admonishing them for what she thought they did wrong. While writing the e-mail, Alison thought to herself, “My team members should have performed better during the meeting!” Max felt anxious about how this meeting could affect his job, so he began updating his resume and spent the rest of the day cruising LinkedIn for new jobs. He was thinking, “It would be awful if I don’t get promoted because we lost this client!” Dave felt so ashamed about his performance that he left the office for the day and went home to binge watch Game of Thrones. He was thinking, “I’m a complete failure for not being able to sign this client.”
What’s interesting about this situation is that all three people experienced the exact same situation (losing a client) at the exact same time, BUT they all had VERY different reactions. So, it couldn’t be losing the client that led the three coworkers to have these reactions, because then they would have all reacted the same way. Rather, it was how each person thought about the situation that led to their emotional and behavioral responses.
No one and nothing can make us feel a certain way. You alone are responsible for your emotional and behavioral reactions. Sometimes in the moment it may seem easier to blame people or situations (e.g., My boss made me so mad!) for our reactions, but the truth is that we are in charge of our responses. This really is good news because it means we are capable of changing the emotional and behavioral reactions that may be getting in the way of achieving our goals.
How do we help Alison, Max, and Dave to recognize what responses are hurting them, avoid making the same mistakes in the future, and develop a more productive team dynamic going forward?
Through the BEW approach, Alison, Max, and Dave will learn the principles of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). All three will learn about the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as how to identify unhelpful thought processes that are getting in the way of their job performance. Once they can recognize what is causing their reactions, they will be able to change the way they think about situations.
At this point, you may be wondering, “Why is she focusing so much on emotions when we are discussing the workplace?” Have you ever tried to communicate effectively or problem solve when feeling emotions such as anger, anxiety, or shame? Everything becomes so much more difficult, and we tend to make challenging situations even more challenging…look at Alison, Max, and Dave. That’s why we first tackle our emotional and behavioral reactions, so that we learn to react in ways that support successful problem solving, instead of respond in ways that exacerbate our problems. In other words, we want to tackle Alison, Max, and Dave’s emotional reactions (i.e., anger, anxiety, and shame) that are leading to their self-sabotaging behaviors (e.g., sending angry e-mails, looking for jobs rather than trying to solve the problem, and avoiding work altogether), and then we can help them to communicate more effectively with their boss, each other, and potential clients.
Over the next few weeks, we will take a closer look at our thought processes and how small changes in thinking can produce big results.
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