Have You Been Cubed?

Appalled Woman w Cell PhoneWhat was I thinking? Have you ever wondered that? Maybe right after you did something you knew you shouldn’t do, but at the time you really wanted to do it? I call that being ‘cubed’ which is short for being ‘S to the third power’ or ‘S cubed’. We just become Simultaneously Smart and Stupid. We know the right thing to do but we can’t help but do the opposite.

Think about the last time you were in a hurry to get to work and some idiot cut you off in traffic. You knew better than to ride his bumper and risk an accident, but you did it anyway – shouting profanities the entire time as if he could hear you.

Or maybe you got an email from a colleague that had a condescending tone and implied you were an idiot – and she copied your boss. Naturally you replied with your own nasty gram insinuating she was indeed the idiot – and you copied your boss, her boss AND her boss’ boss. It might not have been right after you hit send, but eventually you regretted it, right?

These are examples of being cubed. Our intellectual side knows the right thing to do is keep our cool in traffic and avoid public displays of pettiness that have a paper trail, but our emotional side kicks in and we become sort of stupid for a moment.  And often it gets us into trouble.

So what do we do about it? We practice self awareness and self management, two key components of emotional intelligence. Neuroscience research shows we need to ‘name it to tame it’ when it comes to our emotions. We must recognize what we are feeling and why before we can do something to self regulate.

Being self aware means constantly checking in with what’s going on inside our heads and hearts. Are we frustrated? Angry? Sad? Disappointed? And is it because we are feeling unappreciated, disrespected or being controlled?

As humans, we have a variety of emotional needs that, if they go unmet, we will trigger. If we pay attention to these needs, it helps us recognize when we are about to trigger. These needs can be categorized with the acronym HALTS, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired and Scared. Let’s look at each of these and see if you relate.

Hungry – Ever get cranky when you are hungry? Many people do. We can also hunger for appreciation, praise, acceptance and approval.   Imagine working your tail off for your boss and never getting a thank you.

Angry – Does it bother you if you feel disrespected, treated unfairly, not listened to, not heard and understood or not in control? These are certainly triggering situations for most of us.

Lonely – We don’t usually think about being lonely at work, but this is relates to being left out. Have you ever been circumvented in a decision? Someone went around you to get an answer you should have provided? Ever been left off a distribution list you felt you should have been included on? Or maybe you just can’t seem to break into the clique in the department? Feeling left out equates to feeling isolated in our brains and it doesn’t feel very good.

Tired – If you don’t get enough rest, are you on edge all day? Our brains need sufficient rest to be strong and grounded. Otherwise the slightest comment can make us trigger. We can also become tired of repetitive actions where someone does the same thing over and over again. Enough already!

Scared – We could be scared for our physical safety, of course, but more often it’s our emotional safety that’s at risk in the workplace. If we feel threatened by a condescending tone or a value judgment, we can get our backs up really quick. Or if we are fearful of our reputation being tarnished, like feeling unprepared to make that big presentation to the boss, we can be trigger happy.

The point is we want to check in with ourselves regularly so we know what’s happening in our heads and hearts. Once you know that you can choose to do something about. You can self regulate.

In my next blog posts, I’ll give you a variety of options to help you keep from getting ‘cubed’. Some are familiar things your parents may have taught you and some will be new techniques, but all of them are science backed and DO work, if we choose to use them.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you choose to make in an EQ day!

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