Have you ever wondered about strategies to recover from ineffective meetings?
I was recently in a brainstorming session where I felt completely drained by the ineffective interactions taking place. It seemed like one person was completely focused on shutting down every idea. I finally decided to verbalize my feeling of frustration from all the negative energy in the room.
The person generating what I sensed as negative energy was surprised to hear my comment and became defensive. The emotional disconnect playing out sucked the air out of the room and sent that meeting straight to the top of the WOT (waste of time) list.
Research on emotional connection and adult bonding by Dr. Stephen W. Porges and other neuroscientists reveals that the brain has evolved over millions of years to secure safety and connection. Connection allows us to co-regulate emotion and build trusting relationships that reassure us of our inclusion and survival. When we feel emotionally disconnected, we reach for connection through constructive or disruptive behavior, such as shutting down other people’s ideas, blaming, criticizing, judging, complaining, defending or disengaging.
This point is usually where a gap occurs, and people tend to become stuck in a negative cycle of interaction. In this case, I felt that my ideas were not valued by the person who kept shutting them down, perhaps because that person was also not feeling valued or heard to begin with. The meeting ended, and we all moved on to our next task feeling hurt and frustrated.
When we press on without addressing emotional disconnects with the people we depend on at work, our focus and productivity suffer. In a busy work environment where disconnects are bound to occur, it is essential to have a practical and effective method to process emotions and put our relationships and productivity back on track.
To address the emotional disconnect with my co-worker, I followed the emotional connection (EmC) process. This process enabled us to safely identify and name our emotions. We recognized the negative cycle of interaction playing out between us. Then, we articulated our need to have each other’s fears soothed with words of affirmation and reassurance. These steps enabled us to transform the negative cycle of interaction into a positive one.
The EmC process provided us with clear steps and language to safely express our thoughts and emotions, which resulted in deeper mutual understanding and a stronger bond between us. We found that going through the EmC process clarified our focus, recharged our energy and strengthened our relationship.
The ability to connect at an emotional level enables us to truly understand and respect diverse perspectives. Inclusion occurs when we integrate by linking our different perspectives through compassionate, respectful communication.