• The HBR Guide to Coaching Your Employees

    My Posts at HBR
Related Posts with Thumbnails

« Marcus Aurelius, 3,000 Years and the Present Moment | Main | The Layer Cake of Working Life »

Aug 27, 2012



Lovely blog. I particularly enjoyed the truffle pigs metaphor. And as you say, we need to practice. I've been working with some great tools for practicing, called the Core Protocols (Open source, avail on www.liveingreatness.com). One of the tools, Check In, provides a clean container for sharing feelings, while making sharing safe enough that starting to practice isn't an overwhelmingly risky venture. On safety, freedom and coherence in communication using the Core, see my latest book: Closing The Me-You Gap.


Thanks, Vickie. I've long been a fan of checking in as a way to start meetings. That said, I particularly appreciate the clarity and specificity of the Core Protocols--thanks for the reference. It reminds me of what I've learned about agile coaching and feels like a very helpful set of tools. Good luck with the book!


Great article.
These points, still widely misunderstood by many people, are vital to understanding how our emotions operate. The belief that emotions can be suppressed is being discredited by neuroscience - and as you say "we leak" when we try. The science on emotional contagion is showing just how exquisitely sensitive the system is.
Really appreciate your point that the only way to develop this "learned skill" is to practice.



As you said, being open and vulnerable is easy to say but not so easy to do. The "soft " skills are really the more challenging ones and I'm still working on it.


Thanks, Louise and Alan. I think we're talking about applied emotional intelligence here, and, as you both suggest, this is one of those areas where conceptual understanding is helpful but ultimately insufficient. Reading up on recent research in neuroscience and social psychology has helped me tremendously as a coach (and as a person), and yet in the end I still have to step up, lean into difficult conversations, and talk about my feelings. It's not always easy or fun, but that's the only way forward.

Holly Ross

Another gem Ed! I just read Leadership and Self-Deception. Not the best written piece of work ever, but it addresses the "porosity" of our emotions really well. Pretending to be nice is never an effective strategy, because your colleagues can generally tell that you are actually livid, as you point out. And they don't hear your message, they just feel your inauthenticity (is that a word?).

This has been a struggle for me. I don't have a lot of self-control when it comes to my emotions. So recognizing them when they happen and acknowledging them is really important. Then I can put it aside and deal with people authentically, and not from a place of anger, or embarrassment, or hurt, masked by a smile.


Thanks, Holly! I appreciate that. I've also read that book--it was actually a treasured gift from a client. And I agree that like most parables, it's not great writing, and yet its fundamental point is compelling (and very aligned with this post.)

I'm glad to hear about your own journey in this area. What I've learned about myself is that in some settings and in some relationships, I don't have enough control over my emotions, and I need to be a little more self-regulated to connect with people effectively--but at the same time, in other settings and other relationships, I exert too much control over my emotions, and I need to be less regulated to connect effectively.

The challenge is not getting stuck in one "mode" or the other, and allowing myself to move more freely along that spectrum.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Recent Posts