How To Rewire Your Thinking:
Reality Vs Meaning
Meaning Making In Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is created through the meaning that people at your organisation are making out of the environment around them.
In this article our Founder & CEO, Zoe Williams explains how crucial it is to be able to differentiate the actual real life events that happen from our mental interpretations and gives you some useful guidelines on how you can rewire a new meaning…
Communication When Stressed
Our emotions and state influence our communication. Here’s what happens:
- Verbal Communication
We might become passive aggressive, we might say things that we wouldn't normally say. Our verbal communication is altered because of our ‘stressed’ state.
- Nonverbal Communication
Our body language and the way we move can be telling of our inner emotional state. This might display as closed off, quiet or even disinterested.
- Emotional Activation
The more activated our nervous system, the less consciously we behave and the less choice we have. When in this state, we're using external data to feed our emotional system, rather than our logical brain. This is where our meaning-making can alter reality, leading us to a response to our meaning, rather than the actual situation.
When ourselves or others around us are in this heightened state of stress, and our resilience is low, our self awareness is going to dip and we react in fight, flight or freeze mode. Our response becomes less of a choice and more of a momentary reaction.
How To Role Model Responding Differently?
The way that we communicate impacts our relationships. When people feel threatened, they are in this state of activation, they may not be as open to receiving other people's communication.
This is why it is important to give them something different emotionally. We need to make them feel different to shift their listening and be open to new information. These are 3 simple tips to quickly change the emotional state:
- Moving the body, such as going for a walk
- Breathing deeply
- Moving to another task or conversation that isn't related to the triggering event
“Meaning making” is the process by which people interpret situations in the light of their previous past experiences. Below are the key elements that feed into our meaning making.
“If you and your team are making the world around you mean the same thing, you're going to have alignment, there will be a common agreement.”
Negative Meaning Making
As humans, we are constantly trying to make sense of what we're hearing and seeing from other people, especially when there's conflict involved. If two people are making something mean the same thing, from a negative perspective, let's say a trauma perspective (trauma doesn't have to be something really dramatic, it can be a subtle change), they will experience what's called trauma bonding.
When people bond over a story, they will bond over that meaning. And the meaning of the story grows and becomes more powerful, so more people are aligned to it.
When our coaches work with organisations surrounding culture, we often recognise this dynamic. Culture is created through the meaning that people are making out of the environment around them and the stories that they are creating in their minds.
The stories that they're sharing and bonding over are galvanising and tightening their relationships to the story and to one another.
Unlocking a New Meaning
To encourage a circumstance change, you, as a leader, need to unlock and unwind the stories and the meaning that your people have made and then rewire it with new, more positive stories and meaning about the future.
This is why we create corporate visions and mission statements: to have people aligned to a common purpose and goal. To have that future pacing not just into the brain, but into the bodies of our employees. To achieve it, they need to feel new feelings.
The 3 States of Comfort
- Discomfort Zone
When people feel shame, guilt, apathy, fear… that's when they’re experiencing extreme stress.
- Comfort Zone
This is where people feel most comfortable. Lots of organisations and corporations design their culture around this comfort zone, mostly around encouraging competitive behaviour. But, sometimes they can dip into frustration, desire and fear.
- Elevated Zone
This is the zone we're working at Luminary Mindset, educating leaders on leading with an emotional intelligence culture that sits up in the elevated zone of the emotion, where there's more willingness, acceptance and reason. This is a much less stressful state to be in, where the body and brain are in unison.
Recently, Zoe, founder of Luminary Mindset, asked an audience of senior leaders and executives which level of the comfort zone they found themselves in the most, and these are the results:
- 16% responded desire
- 46% responded frustration
- 25% responded competitive
- 11% responded courage
Over 40% of leaders say that they spend most of their leadership time in a state of frustration, which many could find energising because it drives up performance. But as we've mentioned, this is not sustainable.
How Luminary Mindset Works To Change This
- Looking at your diet and your sleep. Take 2 weeks off or significantly reduce stimulants - this will reset your nervous system and sensory inputs.
- If possible, switch off your news app notifications, just for a couple of weeks.
- The fastest way in the moment to calm the brain and the nervous system in the body is circular breath. Incorporate this with a few breathing techniques as well.
To finish, the below poll results are from the same pool of senior leaders and executives. We asked how often they were trapped in an emotional cycle:
- 15% responded almost always
- 50% responded frequently
- 30% responded sometimes
- Only 4% responded never
50% of people are feeling frequently trapped in an emotional cycle. This means we must educate ourselves to better cope with this as leaders and then help our teams, our families and people around us to better cope with their own emotional cycles.
If you feel we could support you or your team with any of the above subjects or you would like to learn more about the Emotional Intelligence toolkit EQi-2.0, please reach out to speak to a member of our team – firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoe Williams, founder and CEO – Luminary Mindset Consulting