Here’s a lens you can use to lower your anxiety and lead yourself and others more effectively. It’s balancing connection and conviction. It’s a good, simple model, with a lot of depth behind it.
The key is to be able to take a thoughtful position while staying connected to others who disagree. I learned this model a few years back during my Doing Leadership @ Microsoft training. While I liked the model right from the start, I came to appreciate it more, as I put it into practice. It’s also a great way to improve your emotional intelligence.
Manage Your Reactivity, Stay Connected, and Change Yourself First
There are 3 keys to remember when you want to reduce anxiety and lead yourself and others effectively:
- Manage how you react in different contexts.
- Lead with a differentiated self (know what you want, think, and feel, and what others want, think, and feel.)
- Focus on changing yourself when you’re stuck in interpersonal patterns that aren’t working.
Balance Your Connection
Connection is simply how cut-off or how connected you are to others. You improve your connection by listening, validating, empathizing, and showing interest. You don’t want to be cut-off, avoiding, or indifferent. You also don’t want to be extremely approval-seeking, over-accommodating or dependent. You want to balance by understanding the thoughts and feelings of others as input. Practicing your empathy with others is practicing your emotional intelligence.
Balance Your Conviction
Conviction is how flexible or rigid you are in your position or belief. The key here to improve your effectiveness is to have clarity on your position, but to be open and flexible to other realities or perspective. This is how you improve your ability to use better judgment and make more thoughtful decisions. It’s also how you avoid pushing people away by taking dogmatic positions. It’s also how you keep your emotions in check by distinguishing between your feelings and your intellectual process.
Differentiate to Reduce Anxiety
If you feel the need to people please or you worry about criticism, rejection, or approval, you raise your chronic anxiety. According to Murray Bowen, chronic anxiety is based on a perceived threat of imbalance in the relationship system. When you can differentiate from others effectively, you lower your chronic anxiety. A differentiated person is aware of their own feelings, as well as the feelings of others. A differentiated person does not automatically react with an emotional response. A differentiated person does not feel the need to automatically please or oppose. Instead, a differentiated individual makes a thoughtful response for the situation, taking into consideration their own thoughts and feelings, as well as those of the group.