When it comes to communication we try to stick to the facts most of the time especially in business communication. We are convinced that emotions are inappropriate. We struggle with our emotions and make a lot of efforts to get rid of our feelings/emotions or to get them “under control” which is more or less the same as ignoring them.
Why don’t we use emotions as valuable information?
Despite recent changes in business culture and leadership principles most of us fear being vulnerable by showing them – especially in business. We even are very bad at recognizing emotions and labeling them in ourselves (see Brené Brown and Marc Brackett “On Emotional Intelligence During A Pandemic” in Forbes). And furthermore, we are not well trained to see them in other human beings.
The fact that remote work massively increased during the last weeks and the number of online conversations sometimes went beyond what most of us find bearable, it has been revealed that something is missing when we can’t access information on the emotional state of others. We become stressed without being able to clearly name the reason. In my opinion our basic survival instinct is triggered: We really need the whole information to feel save and secure.
What are the messages emotions can give us?
Emotions give us information that is impossible to perceive in any other way. They give us clues about our physical and emotional well-being. They give us a sense of preferences. They help provide motivation. They help us spot problems before they occur. We sometimes realize them as so called ‘gut feeling’. Trying to figure out the emotions of others helps to gain useful information for leadership and teamwork. But we have to keep in mind, that our own feelings can influence this observation.
Together with all this we tend to use spoken language/verbal communication as our primary communication channel either to give or to receive messages. We do not rely on other senses. But it’s not because we can’t, we lose the ability to equally communicate on all channels (verbal – which includes sounds, visual, tactile) in our long journey of education in schools, at university and even in companies. Following this communication is more about talking/sending messages out than about listening/taking messages in. If you look at children you can see, that they use the channels of communication in another way.
Learning to master emotions with the guidance of horses?
Horses don’t judge emotions. They use them as one piece of information amongst others. Being around horses pushes us to find and access the lost channels again, because horses don’t speak, and they can’t understand the literal meaning of spoken words.
We have to open our eyes and ears and start to trust our feelings and emotions. In doing so, we start to synchronize our nonverbal and verbal channels of communication. This quickly lifts communication skills to another level. Observing becomes a new high-level competency.
In horse assisted trainings we (the human trainers as well as the horses) inspire people to re-connect with their emotions and to learn anew how to use them as information when necessary. We often ask participants to give feedback based on the emotions they have during an exercise or when they observe other participants. And sometimes we create exercises that have to be delivered without talking.
Have you ever tried to welcome your emotions as important information or read the emotions in others? What did you experience? How did you feel?
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ow did you feel?