By Dr. Kellie Sanders and Dr. Kristine Servais
Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart defines and explores more than 87 different human emotions and experiences in which leaders can increase their emotional literacy and awareness, while ultimately enriching language to connect with others. Brown is most known for her emphasis on the importance of emotional literacy to make meaningful human connections. Unfortunately, according to Brown, most people have severely limited emotional literacy that commonly includes a triad of the simplified emotions of sad, mad, and glad. On the other hand, when a person is emotionally literate and self-aware they can demonstrate improved communication, decision-making, and relationship skills that have a significant impact in professional and personal situations.
Vulnerability is considered among the most essential emotions. Brown describes vulnerability as “that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.” She goes on to point out that vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. However, too often wearmor up to protect ourselves from negative emotions and, as a result, we potentially exclude desirable emotions. In other words, we cannot expect to shut out anxiety or frustration without also minimizing moments of compassion or joy.
Susan David takes emotional self-awareness even further as a means to not only know, but to appropriately select and regulate our emotions. David describesemotional agilityas“an individual’s ability to experience their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a way that demonstrates the best of themselves.” Not surprising, a leader’s emotional agility can have a profound influence on those around them. Awkward emotional moments when emotional agility is needed might include the need to have a difficult conversation, asking for help, admitting fear, a struggling relationship, laying someone off at work, or saying “I love you” to someone for the first time. As leaders strive to be successful, it is vital to be able to develop emotional literacy, growth, and management.
The following questions are designed for reflection and conversation with a friend or colleague to further understand and apply emotional growth and agility:
- There is overwhelming evidence that gratitude benefits us physically, emotionally, and mentally. What strategies would you suggest to others as a means to increase gratitude?
- Brené Brown describes curiosity as choosing to be vulnerable and open to uncertainty. What are some examples of professional situations where you have felt curious? Describe the benefits or results of your curiosity.
- Think of a personal or professional example in which you experienced the concept of courage over comfort?What were the circumstances that helped you to choose courage? What were the results?
- Emotional agility becomes even more difficult, and yet needed, in stressful professional situations. Think of a difficult professional situation in which the stakes and emotions were high for each of the participants. Describe your emotions and strategies you used, or could have used, to be emotionally agile. What were the results?
- Falling short or failing at something is a very common human experience. Consider a time when you experienced a professional failure. Think about the emotions you experienced when you failed? As you reflect on this experience, how were you able to find growth through this failure?
Read: Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown
Read: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David
Watch: The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown
Watch: The Gift of Emotional Courage by Susan David
As a result of reading this blog, what commitments will you make to further your development of emotional literacy and agility? Take the time to check out the resources provided for you in this blog. Susan David and Brené Brown are two of the top resources recommended for women leaders. Check them out.
Servais and Sanders are the cofounders of Lifeline for Courageous Leadership.
Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart defines and explores more than 87 different human emotions and experiences in which leaders can increase their emotional literacy and awareness, while ultimately enriching language to connect with others. Brown is most known for her emphasis on the importance of emotional literacy to make meaningful human connections.