My clients are often surprised when I ask them to name their feelings, a subject not often discussed in offices and meeting rooms. (And when I say they’re surprised, I mean that I regularly hear versions of “You’ve got to be kidding me,” and “No, thanks.”) But we all have them, all the time, whether we are paying attention to what we are feeling or not.
When we acknowledge our feelings, we are at our most alive. Without a connection to our inner truths our connection to others will falter. At best, we move forward in our work even through our disconnection, but we find ourselves less inspired, less happy, and more frustrated. At worst, our lack of self-knowledge contributes to the kind of work culture that can drag a business down.
This may sound abstract. Yet I have observed measurable business results after coaching leaders to more precisely identify their feelings in any given moment. I have also talked to more and more businesses who are hiring with emotional intelligence (EQ) in mind. Identifying feelings is one of EQ’s signature skills.
I use specific tools to help my clients identify feelings, but anyone can start by simply noticing what they are feeling in the moment. This is a skill that is learned with a lot of practice. Train yourself to ask—what am I feeling in this particular moment? Notice any physical sensations you may have. Don’t judge the feelings, but pay attention to them. Expand your feeling vocabulary. Are you grumpy? Or furious? Hurt? Anxious? Get specific.
A few common results I see when leaders are more aware of their feelings:
- Productivity soars in teams that are able to stop working in silo and have open, frank conversations.
- Employees who sense an openness to sharing the full self feel empowered to share ideas, leading to innovations.
- People produce more and work harder when they are invested in their work, a feeling that comes about when they feel truly seen and acknowledged.