When A Relationship Goes Bad
When a relationship goes bad. You have a shared goal, the success of your company, and it appears you two have diametrically different methods for accomplishing that goal.
May you be having a meaningful day.
You two are in a unique situation. You have a shared goal, the success of your company, and it appears you two have diametrically different methods for accomplishing that goal. This dynamic creates remarkable amounts of tension and stress in your office - for you and your employees. The result is neither of you is happy with the other nor the options you can think of to change the situation. You feel stuck or trapped, and the possibilities of escaping those feelings seem selfish or mean.
In the first two coaching sessions that I did with you two individually, I went over two areas that our brains utilize in relationships. They are the Limbic System or reactionary brain and the Frontal Cortex, which is the reasoning part of our brain. All sensory input (eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch, and our thoughts) goes through the reactionary section of our brains first, which was developed for and by survival.
The Limbic part of our brain only has five tools to use for its reactions. Those five tools are Fight, Flight, and Freeze if something is a threat and Grab and Hold if something is a benefit to our physical, emotional, or mental survival.
Logical thought or reasoning is not one of the tools that the Limbic brain has. The automatic reaction is a critical aspect of this part of our brain. Survival does not want us to reason in a survival situation because thinking is slow; alternatively, reacting is fast. Unfortunately, because there is no logical thought, the Limbic System can not tell the difference between a physical situation and an emotional or mental situation.
Consequently, the Limbic brain reacts the same to both physical situations and mental or emotional situations. As an example, when a lion attacks you, your brain shifts into a fight, flight, or freeze mode. Our brains react the same way when our business partner does something we don’t like. Our brain shifts into a fight, flight, or freeze mode even though a verbal attack isn’t life-threatening. Thus to solve mental or emotional situations, we have to address them with the reasoning Frontal Cortex part of our minds.
One difficulty is that the Limbic system has a giant dimmer switch under its control, which controls how many neurons going to the Frontal Cortex are firing. When a situation or a thought generates strong emotions, the Limbic brain pulls down the dimmer, and the reasoning part of our brain becomes limited. The dimmer switch limiting information to the frontal cortex is the reason it is hard to be reasonable when we feel strong emotions. Fortunately, we can learn to overcome this limitation.
In our first two coaching sessions, I asked both of you to identify your primary reaction to adverse situations, fight, flight, or freeze. I also asked both of you to determine what you believe the other person uses as their primary reaction mode. Additionally, you two have told me that your automatic reaction modes are a significant part of the breakdown in your office. One of you shifts into freeze mode, and the other shifts into fight mode.
The goal now is to learn how to use this knowledge to your advantage. Addressing this problem will require both of you to alter how you behave so that your automatic reactionary feelings don’t control your behavior. You will have to learn awareness of your thoughts and feelings, and then practice reframing your thinking. If you take these steps, you will achieve your goals of a fulfilling and prosperous workplace.
As you know, it is a challenge to transform our thinking because it is so easy to react automatically. To aid you with this transformation, I believe this is an excellent time to begin combined coaching sessions. Here is the step-by-step guide we’ll follow.
1. Step 1 - Both you come up with one personal goal to accomplish and one company problem to solve. Write these goals down. I suggest the personal goal be to overcome the automatic reaction mode into which your brains switch.2. Step 2 – The three of us will sit down together, and each of you will say out-loud your personal goal. I will help you to word it so that you set yourself up for accomplishing your goal, if necessary. The reason for this step is to move beyond reactionary actions. Reactionary thinking will chase after an idea that feels good. If you don’t have a specific purpose, you have much less focus on the long-term goal, and you can easily be distracted by the feelings of automatic reactions – automatic reactions are what created the company problems in the beginning.3. After we have accomplished the personal goals step, we will use the same process to address step three, a company problem. Again, one at a time, each of you will express your perception of a company problem you’d like to see addressed. I will guide you in the wording of this to avoid triggering problems. Survival Mode (fight, flight, freeze, grab, hold) awareness is vitally important in this stage. I suspect that each of you will say the other person is the problem. If you are aware of the other person’s default reaction mode, then you can communicate to make the perceived issue non-personal to the other.
I will include an outline of Blair's Communication Guidelines. I will also serve as a mediator if disagreement erupts. As both of you follow the guidelines, we will navigate this with the least amount of adverse reactions and the highest possibility of positive outcomes.
I believe in both of you. It appears to me that you two have the same goals, but those goals are currently subservient to the emotional reactions of your survival minds. Thus with some training, simple guidelines, respect, and courage, you can overcome your reactions, and you will achieve your goals for yourself and your company.
I believe in you.
If any of this letter resonates with you, please contact me here.
Posted March 18, 2020