Why you’re stressing out your team 😳

Did you know you’re stressing people out by not sharing their emotions? And, worse, you’re stressing yourself out in the process?

Imagine this scenario: you’re a tech lead on a deadline with just a few days left in an important sprint. You’re behind on story points. A junior developer, who’s quite a bit behind on his story walks up to you super excited because he heard about an awesome new Javascript framework at a Meetup last night.

He even spent all day whipping up a proof of concept to show you instead of working on his story!

You are obviously angry about this lack of focus, and your face shows it — even though you want to be calm, supportive, and encourage his enthusiam at the same time you focus him BACK TO WORK ON THE STORY HE NEEDS TO GET DONE!!!

It turns out, according to Goleman in Social Intelligence, that we’re hard hired to share similar emotions. When Junior Developer shows up with enthusiam, and you don’t match it, then it causes both of you to stress out.

Ok, ok….. so stress all for everyone is totally appropriate in this case!

But there are countless other, smaller mismatches that happen between you and your team that happen all the time causing you and your team to stress unnecessarily. Partly it’s because you have slightly different priorities and you have a different context, given that tech leads are usually more connected to the business and product owners than the developers are. Therefore, you’re going to have different emotional reactions to events.

So here’s the idea to try: when working with your team, or management, start where they are. Forget what you know for a moment and connect with the emotion first. Be with them on whatever it is that they’re doing or feeling. Then context switch to where you think they should go. You’re both going to be a whole lot happier.

This was kind of a complicated idea so I’m not sure I conveyed it correctly! What do you think? Make sense?

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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