Are feelings needed for good decision making?
As leaders, we aspire to do what is right, what is relevant, what is needed. The approach I elaborate below helps us to do just this. The listening and questions that a coach provides helps this process to become fruitful.
Thinking about my feeling is:
✔️Being aware of and naming the feelings I have — sad, angry, fearful, disappointed, disgusted, etc.
✔️Being able to distinguish one feeling experience from another.
✔️Beginning to see the reasons for why I am feeling the way I am.
Feeling about my thinking is:
✔️Being aware of the details of my inner chatter.
✔️Being aware of the nature of my own thoughts, assumptions and assessments.
✔️Being aware of links, consequences, and data.
Let me illustrate this for you:
I recently had an experience of a close relationship disruption. The person concerned said things that were mean, accusatory and judging. It was a betrayal of what I believe was a respectful and caring relationship of 27 years. It created a breakdown and a strain in the relationship. It also impacted others who were witness to it. Others seemed upset and shocked.
In thinking about my feelings, I was aware:
📍I felt hurt and angry at the same time.
📍I felt violated and betrayed.
📍I began to see that the person took my positive and kind actions for granted. The many supportive actions I made in the past years flashed through my mind.
In feeling about my thinking, I became aware of:
👁️🗨️ My inner chatter statements were ‘How dare she says this’, ‘What an ungrateful nasty person’, ‘Who does she think she is? This is so insulting’, ‘So now I know what she REALLY thinks of me’, ‘What a pretense she has put up all these years’.
👁️🗨️ The main core of my thinking began to show up for me. Respect was being violated. Respect is a fundamental value for me. I don’t stand for disrespect in any situation or with any person.
This core remained — the rest I realised were assessments, reactions and ego statements coming from my hurt.
This is an exercise in learning to ‘sense into’ both our feelings and thought patterns. When I could think about my feelings and feel about my thinking, my next action became clearer.
My decision on what I needed to do was something that fit my value system, my capacity for taking action and my readiness.
My decision was to draw a strong boundary with the other using verbal and non-verbal means and to stick with it. No justifications, no explanations needed. Just a reiteration to the other of the beliefs and values that we practice. Nothing more, nothing less.
Implications as leaders
When we do not feel and think effectively, we can escalate into emotional reactions, fights, arguments. We feed our ego self so we get even and we behave in undignified ways.
These are the advantages I see in thinking about our feelings and feeling about our thinking:
✅ We get clarity of our inner emotional processes.
✅ We have clarity in our thinking, assessments, and assumptions.
✅ We tune into our beliefs and values.
✅ We get aware of data we have or do not have have and what more we may need.
✅ We consider the full context we are in including relationships, outcomes and implications.
✅ We choose an action that fits who we are and is relevant in the here and now.
✅ We behave in responsive ways including being a dignified problem-solver.
✅ We seek the support needed, use resources sensibly and problem-solve in the most effective way available to us.
Have you had instances where thinking about your feelings and feeling about your thinking has helped you make better decisions?