People can be reluctant to speak with their boss or colleagues about their mood or mind state, but it doesn't need to be that difficult.
One way to help people speak up, learn about, and support mental health is to treat it as less of a big deal to talk about. To be clear, mental health IS a big deal, but treating it this way can make it harder for simple discussions to take place. Like physical health, it is a gradient and there is no point waiting until someone is morbidly unhealthy to talk about health.
Consider a score out of 10, where 10 is feeling at your absolute best, firing on all cylinders, on top of your game, 5 is pretty average or flat, 3 is quite under the pump, and a score of 0 or 1 is a person who is in real trouble.
On any given day we are likely to oscillate around an average, and if we were able to, we would take steps to edge that average score up over time. There are days when we will feel low; say a 2 or 3, but provided they are infrequent and the average is reasonably solid, then all we need to do is engage in some simple self-care strategies (which is often, just wait - eg take a day or two off to get some space and perspective) to lift us out of the hole we feel we are in.
The thing we want to avoid is having our average score reduce over time, such that we become stuck, trapped in an internal climate that causes every day to be challenging.
Mental Health is seen as significant and people might not speak up because they don't want it to be 'a thing'. This is a form of denial. They wait until they really feel 'beyond blue', overwhelmed, or in nervous breakdown territory before they seek help. From that point, the journey back is just that much farther.
The freedom to speak about our state of mind on a given day can be improved if we recognise the gradient between a 'down day' or a tough week at one end, to chronic mental health challenges at the other. People don't want to make a fuss. Normalising conversations enables people to take simple action earlier.
Wouldn't it be great for people to be able to easily discuss their mental fitness, without it needing to be "a thing", without it being a note on the employee file?
How much more could we enable people to intervene before it gets too deep, and encourage those who are really feeling it to join the conversation and put their hand up?
A consequence of feeling out of sorts is that you also feel alone or isolated. in fact isolation is both a cause AND a symptom of feeling low - these conversations help people gain comfort in understanding that they are not alone.
Flexibility comes from allowing a middle ground. The freedom to say "I'm really feeling under the pump at the moment", and to be supported simply and without fuss. "Yeah? I've noticed you've been a little quiet. Have you thought about ..........? Have you tried.....?"
Organisations that encourage the casual conversation (without blame, guilt, fear, and judgment) will improve the well-being of more people, and be more able to support those who are doing it really tough. Helping those with 'mild symptoms' is a gateway to allowing those with more severe experiences to get the help they need.
How do you normalise conversations about mental fitness and health?
We've all had the sensation of intuition. "I don't know why, but this doesn't feel right" or "I just know that this will work." We bet on a horse that "I've just got a feeling is bound to win" and are shocked when it doesn't.
We revere this sensation as though it is some deeper truth– more true than other evidence.
This is a false view.
The best way to think about intuition is in a similar way to how we think about sight, sound and other more 'direct' senses. We know that for the most part our sight is pretty good for what it has emerged to do. We can navigate our world, find what we are looking for without bumping into things. We rely on our sight to keep us safe. So far so good. However, we also know that our eyes can deceive us.
What we see isn't a photograph of what is there, but a constructed - imagined - representation of what is most likely to help us navigate. Our brain's best guess. adjusted for usefulness. We've all seen various visual illusions where, for example, two equal lines look different lengths based on how the line is positioned. Because we can measure the truth with a ruler we accept that our eyes are wrong, marvel at the sensation and go about our day.
We tend not to be this scientific with 'intuition' because it is difficult to measure the accuracy against anything objective.
I coach my clients to think of intuition like a higher level aggregation of other senses and memories that provides a 'felt measure of confidence'. Our brain is looking to predict safety. It makes a guess (prediction) measures this against the sensory data (light, sound etc) and memory patterns (how well does this data match existing memory patterns and what do those patterns tell us about how safe we are).
The nagging sense that something isn't right is your brain saying "there is something about this that doesn't allow a prediction of safety" or "there is something about this that is similar to a previous dangerous experience" both of these will produce an intuition of nagging doubt. Such doubt is worth listening to, acknowledging and in the case of making a risky decision or action, worth stepping back and checking before jumping.
However, you can see a few ways it can be wrong. For example, what if the person you feel uneasy about just happens to look like someone who caused you harm 20 years ago. Your brain may find 'something fishy about this person' for no other reason than the coincidence of appearance.
What if the nagging doubt is about something you know to be on balance good for you, such as establishing a new exercise habit. But when your brain 'checks' with memory patterns for what this might mean for you and doesn't have any evidence for safety having never joined a gym before, or finds risk to what I consider normal or good ("I don't want to be end up like one of those gym junkies"), you can end up letting your "it just didn't feel right" to be an excuse for not acting in your best interest.
My message is pay attention to your intuition. It is powerful and helpful for the most part. If your brain says "slow down and check" then listen! Especially when it comes to physical safety.
Take a precautionary approach– if you feel 'too confident' you probably are. So check yourself, check evidence, look more closely, and think further into the future– "how is this likely to play out?".
If you feel danger or unease - act to make sure you and those around you are safe first – seek additional sources of evidence to help you determine the risk more clearly.
Intuition is a higher level sense so use it. However, in a competition between "good science" and "my gut"– science wins regardless of how I feel about it.
The application of the science of mind as it relates to managing people, stress, conflict, change and personal productivity turns happiness into a commercially smart leadership priority. Building personal leadership and authentic happiness focuses on the solution – not the symptom.
The skills to improve authentic happiness are teachable. These skills reduce stress and the possibility of conflict whilst also improving resilience, strategic thinking, customer service and productivity. It’s like fitness training for mental health. You are teaching your key people how to self-manage their responses to situations in the moment when it matters.
Imagine what your workplace would be like if your key people were fully engaged and firing on all their mental cylinders more of the time. Like a hydrofoil; they rise above the chop of daily life and enjoy a powerful and smooth run.
The deliberate focus on teaching people how to apply the science of mind to build authentic happiness will do more for the effectiveness and attitude of your key people than any other type of personal leadership development.
Does Executive Coaching work over distance, or does the coaching always need to be "In Person"?
Many believe EQ is a "you've got it or you don't" trait like height or eye colour but that view is false. Emotional intelligence is teachable like any other skill and buildable like any other strength. However, it comes with the same limitations and caveats, individuals start from different levels and it takes effort, it requires changing thought patterns and being outside of your comfort zone.
Below I outline my approach which works consistently. It is simple - but that doesn't mean easy. Like physical fitness, it takes consistent effort over time.
I predict a huge shift to the way people go about building mental fitness and health through understanding the role of inflammation as driver for fatigue, fogginess and even depression and anxiety.
I’m always happy to pass on great info, and this is great info! The full piece "Adult and Baby Brain Sycn-Up During Play" by Liz Fuller-Wright was first published on Jan 9 2020 Princeton University News I’ve included a few snippets below lifted from the full article.
It's unusual for a leadership coach to tell their clients they haven't got as much free will as they think. Kinda goes against the "you can do it." message that is part of premise of coaching.
But it is a message I've been giving for years. Why? Well because it is true.
Happiness is not the pursuit of hedonistic joy or the compulsion to show your living the awesome Instagram life - it is and includes struggle and strangely sadness.
In my previous blog I talked a little bit about the effects of blame and guilt, and fear and judgment, from leaders on their people and on the culture of your organization, and how unproductive that is.
This blog is an extension of that, because, I want to talk today about the influence of low emotional intelligence in the people themselves, whether they're employees or colleagues, and the role that that plays.