When working with leaders to help them become even more influential, I notice that our discussions frequently turn to how important it is, especially when they are experiencing those stronger thoughts and emotions, for them to be candid about what it is they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.
Most leaders don’t balk too much when they’re encouraged to put their thoughts on the table, however they often struggle to put their feelings on the table. And yet it’s so critical to habituate candidness with one’s feelings—even though, initially at least, it feels so abnormal and so uncomfortable!
Three Crucial Costs of You Not Disclosing How You Feel
There are serious and significant consequences when you don’t “cough up” about how you feel about a burning issue.
When you don’t candidly communicate your emotional position, you are making three costly sacrifices:
- Your physiological health suffers—The “Herald Sun” newspaper spoke about this last week. It reported new research that found that “men who keep things bottled up greatly increase the chance of suffering poor health… Men who frequently used ‘covert coping’ had double the risk of a (coronary) and of dying from heart disease…”
- Your mental health is compromised—We’re not just task-focused machines.
How is your stress level when you’re bottling up something you feel strongly about? For example, do you notice how tense your shoulders become? (I always notice my tense jaw.) And how much better do you feel when you’ve had one of those clearing conversations?
- Your relationships with others deteriorates—Do you fully trust someone who’s not saying how they really feel about an issue? Unexpressed feelings often create a cold or even aggressive atmosphere. Suppressing your feelings leads to barriers resulting in increased conflicts and reduced trust.
Think about it from your own perspective…
When you’re left guessing where another person is at, rather than listening to their point of view and trusting what they’re saying, you’re more likely to be wary of them and put the focus of your attention on figuring them out aren’t you? Or you’re treading carefully so you don’t open your mouth and put your foot in it? And then, because both of you are now involved in this “dance” around an invisible, unknown issue, it’s really difficult for either of you to be influential and to make forward progress, isn’t it?
Ten Important Reasons for You to Disclose How You Feel
There are many arguments for creating a habit of candidly communicating your feelings.
When you disclose how you feel about an important issue:
- Your stress level is reduced. You’re healthier and happier.
- Misunderstandings are prevented
- You can nip the issue in the bud and prevent your feelings from escalating.
- You’re likely to resolve the issue early when you table it early.
- The other person is better able to appropriately respond when they have more information from you.
- You’ll create a closer, more fulfilling relationship. You won’t impact as a bit of an expressionless person who’s not very present in the conversation.
- Your interpersonal effectiveness increases as your relevant thoughts and feelings are expressed and discussed.
- You’ll notice that your emotions are much more controllable.
- Trust increases in the relationship.
- You’re likely to be more influential with the other person when they receive a fuller communication from you.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Yes, there is a way to successfully disclose how you think and feel in order to be maximally influential—and a way not to do it. And that’s why your next twice-monthly bulletin will discuss “how to create the highly constructive, worthwhile habit of appropriately disclosing how you feel”.
Meanwhile, your leadership call to action is simply this…
…notice when you do and when you don’t currently get your feelings off your chest.
As always, I’m looking forward to your comments and to hearing about your experiences.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.