Why Emotional Awareness Is So Important Right Now
The value of calm leadership.
Recently I took an important step in my business. My vision for the future (3-5 years from now) involves a scaled team, and I began 2020 eager to create a foundation of growth inside my creative agency. Of course, the past few months put a damper on my enthusiasm.
As events unfolded, my eyes stayed fixed on the next day or week in my business. Three years from now felt unimaginably distant and unknowable. My vision took a back seat to urgent needs… and to the drama of daily life found in every news cycle. Even though I limited my exposure to the media, the general anxiety in our world was inescapable. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar…
I’m a pretty driven, goal-oriented person so I don’t typically stay frozen for long. When the news started shifting to talk of reopening our economy, I pushed myself into action and invested in the future. As I signed a contract to add much-needed support to my team, I felt a bit of panic. Was this the right decision? Is now the right time? Am I completely out of my mind?
This experience – and others we’ve all shared over the past few weeks – are signs that we need to cultivate emotional awareness in our lives so we can serve our families, lead our teams, and guide the course of our businesses.
Sharing a definition.
While in the midst of my mini emotional crisis, I encountered a definition that resonated with me and brought some clarity.
In his book Objections, Jeb Blount says this – “Awareness is the intentional and deliberate choice to monitor, evaluate, and modulate your emotions so that your emotional responses to the people and environment around you are congruent with your intentions and objectives.”
Key in this definition for me is the bit about modulating my emotions so my responses are congruent with my intentions. Practically speaking, this means getting my emotions under control so that I don’t snap at those I love or make poor decisions in my business. It doesn’t mean pretending everything is okay… but, instead, recognizing how I feel and tempering my response to those feelings in a way that is consistent with my priorities.
Combining awareness with making decisions.
By cultivating awareness, I’m able to monitor my feelings and act accordingly. This keeps me moving forward. Rather than allowing the anxiety I feel about the future to hold me back like quicksand, I use my emotions to temper my actions as I move forward… even at a slower pace than I would have anticipated in January.
We face a unique set of decisions right now. Do we take advantage of one of the stimulus loan options or do we stick it out financially? Do we furlough employees or reduce operational hours? How do we reopen successfully?
Along with these decisions and challenges come a boat-load of emotions. Typically decisive people are uncharacteristically overwhelmed. Calm friends are anxious, positive family members are down and struggling. This is part of our reality and awareness allows us to factor these emotions into our decision-making process.
Marketing at this time requires emotional intelligence.
There’s a noticeable shift in consumer behavior which is based on the concerns we all hold in our minds. Effective marketing begins by engaging potential customers around the needs they feel… and those needs have shifted.
At the beginning of the year, we may have wanted to get more customers, add new products and services to our business, or give our team bonuses. Personally we may have been planning a dream vacation or playing on Pinterest as we thought about a remodel or redesign. I guarantee those plans have shifted.
Most business owners I speak with now are looking for ways to expand how they serve clients and the community so they can be a part of the solution. They are concerned about the safety and financial security of their organization. They are looking for people they can trust to guide them… and want to be considered trustworthy by their customers and team members.
Emotional awareness allows us to recognize these shifts and pivot our marketing message to one of compassion, support, and assistance. When we connect with potential clients in response to their needs, our products and services become relevant. We become part of the solution our customers seek. This is good marketing… and it’s also just the right thing to do.
Awareness is a catalyst inside the sales process.
Why do you sell your products and services? Beyond money (which is always a part of doing business), the entrepreneurs I know are motivated by passion and a genuine love of the ways they serve others. It takes a huge amount of energy to turn an idea into a viable business… and a desire to make money typically isn’t enough.
In times like these, we might find ourselves focused on the financial aspects of our work. We feel desperate and concerned for the future, and this scarcity mindset negatively impacts our ability to connect with customers and move them to the point of purchase. Sales start to feel manipulative and sleazy… and that’s a problem.
When we cultivate emotional awareness, we develop the ability to moderate our feelings of anxiety and desperation and realign to our core values. We move to a more abundant mindset and begin to think with generosity and calm confidence in the value we provide.
Confidence (resulting from emotional awareness) acts as a catalyst in the sales process. We take our eyes off of ourselves and the next sale. We focus on the customer’s needs and the solutions we provide. This shift changes the tone of negotiation from manipulation to genuine helpfulness.
When you are confident about the value you deliver, you can authentically invite others to work with you. When you are calm about the outcome of the process, you can negotiate with kindness and generosity. You can walk away from deals that don’t work without regret. This is incredibly empowering!
How can you cultivate emotional awareness? Practice reflection.
During periods of crisis, I recommend practicing the pause. Take a few moments at the beginning and end of your day for reflection. Pause before communicating to take your own emotional temperature. Step away from the noise around you (even if you have to head to the restroom to do it) and just close your eyes and breathe. Practicing the pause is an intentional way to find stillness and allow your emotions to come into awareness.