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The Killer Barriers Of
Emotional Communication
Challenge Leaders

When a leader can communicate with negative people, she can get team members calmly committed to sensible objectives. While they share common perceptions, emotional blocks invariably trigger conflicts and misunderstandings in teams.

Typically, a team member may stubbornly refuse to cooperate. Each time the leader begins to reason with him, it turns into an argument, or he changes the subject. The leader cannot get the member to accept common sense solutions.

Such failures occur, when any one of a range of negative emotions, such as resentment, jealousy, or fear, stand like alert guard dogs, blocking sensible exchanges. Snarls, or growls greet attempts to reach out to the common sense of the team member. Communicate with negative people by removing such emotional barriers.

  • Better communication assumes that everybody has a common sense, which can be reached.
  • Emotional barriers hide the common sense and produce irrational responses.
  • Patience improves the quality of communication.
  • Remove the frustration of not being able to present a viewpoint.
  • Respect the territory of the team member.
  • Observe and be aware of each other's body signals.
  • Don't be overwhelmed by the drive to communicate.
  • Approach the discussion with the objective of finding a better solution.
  • Protect your credibility, respect the other and use humor to lighten the mood.

Emotional Communication
When Does Communication Fail?
Successful communication can reconcile differing viewpoints. But, problems arise, when subconscious emotions are aroused. These are neural responses, which arise when a brain region called the limbic system senses a potential for pain or conflict in an approaching situation. These are primitive animal responses, more appropriate for the jungle. Anger strikes out wildly and fear frantically seeks to escape. Such responses do not fit into the rational modern world. Negative emotions lead to conflicts and result in the failure of a team.

All people have a reasonable inner intelligence. They have a rational prefrontal brain, which is capable of making calm and unemotional choices, when emotions are stilled. When an unemotional viewpoint is reached, all parties can calmly and creatively see the whole picture and a consensus view becomes possible. Communication succeeds, when negative emotions are stilled, creating the proper environment for sensible solutions. A successful leader knows that it is possible to communicate to a sensible inner self, residing deep within every member of his team.

Emotional Communication - 
What Blocks Communication?

Over millions of years, nature developed emotions to guide the behavior of animals. Typically, anger, or fear coped with contrasting situations. Each emotion initiated a dynamic intelligence, which focused the brain of the animal on a single strategy – to fight, or to escape. All body systems cooperated and the mind shut off conflicting viewpoints. Each emotion morphed the brain into an energetic and focused intelligence, with powerful reasoning abilities. 

When they take control, emotions limit access exclusively to the knowledge which favors their narrow viewpoints. When a person becomes angry, or fearful, every word used in a discussion recruits contextual links, which favor anger or fear. During exchanges, the recalcitrant team member does not accept the presence of a problem, or the need to find a solution. He is not listening, but thinking of his reply. He counters “It is easy for you to say such things. You don't face my problems.” Negative emotions make people unreasonable and sensible solutions become impossible. Better communication skills acknowledge and deal with the emotions barrier.

Emotional Communication 
How Does Patience Help?

Patience is the key to better communication. Do not expect immediate results. Patience is triggered, when we acknowledge that we cannot immediately change a conflicting viewpoint. A successful leader expects to convince the team member to cooperate. Success is a reward, which motivates the leader. Professor Wolfram Schultz discovered that the mind gathers energy and reduces negative emotions, when we allow ourselves time to be rewarded with success. 

Schultz reports that reward oriented behavior is promoted by the release of dopamine by neurons in the approach or avoid system, within the early reptilian part of the human brain. Nature schedules the induction of such added focus and energy, timing it precisely to be sufficient to achieve desired objectives. Increased dopamine strengthens forebrain activity, which brings clarity to objectives and makes a person feel more energetic and elated. Do not expect to convince someone immediately. When you are willing to wait, your mind stills emotions and grants you energy. You are able to communicate calmly and with energy.

Emotional Communication
Is Listening Important?

Better communication quiets strong emotions by allowing the other person to present her viewpoint. If she feels she is not being heard, she will become resentful and frustrated. Frustration, in her inability to present her case, quickly escalates the resentment. Anger triggers harsh words and distortions of facts, which increase the possibility of a failure in communication. Anger is stilled, when frustration is removed. 

Allow a painful viewpoint to be voiced. That does not weaken one's own position. Become aware of one's own vexation. Self awareness can act to still the drives, which assemble counter arguments and cause interruptions while the other person is talking. A quieter mind will present your viewpoints better. By allowing an angry person to speak long enough, his anger will reduce. His more irrational positions will become subdued and there is greater possibility of a sensible exchange.

Emotional Communication
Do You Belong To My Tribe?

The early reptilian part of the brain acts to protect territory. At the lowest level, the hypothalamus responds to territorial threats. A patient with severe brain damage, with the hypothalamus intact, was reported to growl or exhibit distress, when approached. Invisible instincts warn people, when they are threatened. An absurd argument that opposes your suggestions for improvement may, in reality, arise from an effort to protect territory. 

People act to protect their areas of control, their allocation of time resources, their family values and much more. The instinct for territorial protection is not a rational entity. The arguments, which oppose you may not be reasonable. They are the response to a perceived threat. Such people need to feel safe. Just as wild life photographers establish a “safe” presence over long periods, your actions must convince the person that he is secure with your ideas. Direct your communication to ease their fears.

Emotional Communication
Are You Sensitive To Body Signals?

Become sensitive to the body signals, which indicate that emotions have taken control. Frustration and anger tense eye muscles and raise the pitch of voices. An unwillingness to interact with you may indicate disgust. Turning away may indicate a desire to end the interaction. When urgent matters occupy a person, delicate subjects should not be presented. Wait for an opportunity, when the person looks relaxed and open. 

Quite often, we ourselves have characteristic tones and body postures, when we open up with a delicate subject. If the person is not receptive, those body signals immediately close off communication channels. When a person is not receptive, be patient. If your viewpoint is valid and reasonable, persist in calmly presenting it, until the other person's common sense accepts it. Remember that a calm and relaxed presence communicates your views powerfully by stilling the other person's negative emotions.

Emotional Communication
Do You Interrupt The Discussion?

The nervous system has drives which subconsciously complete an action, which has been initiated. When you decide to to move a piece on a chess board, your motor systems follow through with thousands of muscle contractions, which set the piece exactly in its new location. The drive makes intelligent decisions to readjust hand movements to cross obstructions on the way. So, also, when you present your view during a discussion, your speech systems continue persistently, until the idea is fully communicated. The system will ignore interruptions and will even raise your voice to impose the message. 

Unfortunately, the subconscious focus on completing the task will blind you to the responses of the other person. Make a conscious decision to listen and not speak, when the other person is presenting his view. Automatic drives can be stopped in their tracks by conscious decisions. You will need to overcome your impatience and even a suspicion that the other person will never stop talking. Most people will not continue the expression of an idea for more than a few minutes. Allow their “convey the idea drive” to run its course. They will be more receptive to your viewpoint, when their view has been expressed. Make a conscious decision to speak only when the other person has finished speaking.

Emotional Communication
Could Your Opponent Have A Point?

Your initial approach sets the tone of any meeting. Approach your interaction with a team member not with the objective of convincing him, but with the expectation that he may be able to contribute a new improvement to your idea. That is your job. Work is said to be the resolution of conflict. A leader's primary task is to find better solutions, which creatively reconcile the objectives of differing viewpoints. 

Getting the work done and enjoying the sunset may be conflicting objectives. It takes only a few moments to stand back and absorb the view. Then you can get the work done. Both objectives can be met. Every member of your team can contribute valuable ideas, which can help to meet your objectives better. Take time to clarify their objections and evaluate their importance. Let all your interactions begin with the objective of finding a better solution.

Emotional Communication 
Are You Hiding An Issue?

Great leadership conveys a quiet confidence, in the face of adversities. You cannot find solutions to all the problems you face. People sense trouble long before they become disasters. You will lose the trust of your team members, if you gloss over problems. Suspicion is a powerful emotional barrier, which will focus on discovering ulterior motives to your exhortations. When a leader acknowledges the existence of problems, her team members know that those issues are on her radar. Then the leader is sharing the problem with them.

While a fearful mind thrashes around the cage, a calm leader generates solutions from the wisdom of his team. The mind control tips in this website suggest simple steps you can take to become relaxed and calm even in the face of disaster. As Mahatma Gandhi reassured his followers, if they kill you, they will have to deal with your bodies. He accepted the ultimate possibility. With his calm sincerity, he inspired a backward nation to fight back against seemingly overwhelming odds.

Emotional Communication
How Do You Treat Your Opponent?

Respect is a nonviolent herd emotion, which compelled individual members to voluntarily ignore their own needs to serve a social superior. Respect, motivated by fear, set off a placating pattern of behavior, conceding power to the strong. A respectful approach saved the weak from being attacked by the strong. Some leaders tend to express their superiority through arrogance.

We have moved away from those primitive times when a leader dominates the herd, to an age, where every team member contributes to success. When a leader respects the inputs of every member, the team will have creative solutions and an enthusiastic team. Respect improves the quality of communication.

Emotional Communication 
Does It Help If You Are Funny?

Humor improves the quality of communication. Laughter is often triggered by a sudden release of tension. It works to subdue emotional turmoil. During the middle ages, it was the court jester, who tried to lift the monarch out of an angry or melancholic mood. There is much recent evidence that laughter aids emotional well being and health. A belly laugh is said to result in muscle relaxation. The process is aerobic, providing a workout for the diaphragm, which reduces the effects of visceral reactions during a heated discussion. Successful leaders use humor to lighten the mood and to improve the quality of communication.

This page was last updated on 19-Jan-2016.