This is a continuation of my previous blog post, where we discussed the concept of ‘Emotional Bank Account’ based on the research of John M. Gottman. I provided examples of ‘deposits’ that can enhance your work relationships. In this blog post, let’s explore ‘withdrawals, i.e. what causes the emotional bank account to go into a negative balance. It is good to keep those in mind in order to avoid getting into emotional ‘debt’ or even bankruptcy.
Here are 7 types of WITHDRAWALS:
1. Focusing on negatives
According to American therapist, Haim Ginott, all our emotions are good but not all our reactions to them are always useful. It can be irritating when a person does something that you already flagged they shouldn’t have been doing. Anger can take over in these situations and that is actually ok but saying at that moment “you are useless” is not. Try something more supportive like: “Can you please make sure you check this report before it is sent out to our stakeholders?”
2. Turning toward instead of away
Gottman referred to this type of attitude as a ‘syndrome of shutting glass door’. Imagine a 1-to-1 meeting with your manager where you shared an important issue such as one that affects your life and work with him/her. He/she (the manager) may either turn towards or turn away from you. If the manager turns towards you, he/she simply acknowledges what you have said. By his/her response, he/she confirms that they’ve heard you and they care about you have just told them.
Another possible response could be that your manager just skips the subject altogether and move on to another point of the conversation. By virtue of this response, he/she is turning you away and it wouldn’t make you feel heard or understood.
When you validate the emotions of the other person you build a connection.
It is worth noting that acts of turning toward are small and include everyday gestures of appreciation, understanding, affection, and kindness.
3. Escalation of conflict
When someone shares their disappointment with you regarding any of your actions, try not to bring up all the situations when they have done something wrong. It is very unhelpful as the other person may feel confused and unheard. Of course, you need to talk about past mistakes that you have on your mind but try to wait for another moment. Listen to the other side and try to change things for the better.
4. Acting against the other person
Have you ever noticed you bash someone only because you were already upset, oftentimes about an issue that has nothing to do with that person? This is a serious withdrawal that may cause serious damage to your emotional bank account.
5. Constantly trying to find something at fault
In any relationship, you can either ‘wear pink or black sunglasses’. What it means is that you can perceive everything in a positive or negative way. Imagine a situation where you are the manager and your subordinate made you coffee. Instead of looking at it as a positive gesture, you are thinking about why they have done it. Probably there is something wrong going on and they don’t want to tell you.
People that work well together highlight the strengths in others (and their wins) and minimise their weaknesses (or failures).
6. Being constantly irritated with the other person
Some of the emotions are like that ‘spring in the mattress’ - they bounce back. A good example here is anger. It is not helpful when the other side constantly ‘makes’ us angry or irritated. We can be in the loop of negative emotions and we need to get out of it. Think of what is the exact cause of your negative emotions. What can you do to change these emotions in order to become more supportive? Can you take time off and see things from another perspective. It is an illusion to think that it is all about the other person. Imagine they disappear, will all your problems be resolved?
“I know how to do that better”, “How many times do I have to tell you that...”, “Be quiet!” - all such harmful expressions, behaviours or even looks kill respect. You can’t build any relationship without mutual respect so remember to monitor how you act on a daily basis.
I am sure you have found the above helpful. As much as we want to make work about performance we are still social beings and we need solid relationships at work in order to thrive.
Remember that it is all about this balance - emotional balance.