The Emotion Engine: How should I start? (Email 2)

Note: This is an archive of an email from the release series of The Emotion Engine (Early Adopter Edition).

Welcome back.

Based on the growth of our interest group, this email may be your first in the series. If that’s the case, you’ll want to start with the first email.

By the way, Graham was kind enough to let me know that I had a lockdown on the commenting system of The Emotion Engine page. This prevented anyone but my registered users to comment and interact. I’ve lifted that pesky setting, so you are now free to comment.

With that said, let’s move forward.

The question I’ve heard most often over the past 12 years is “how should I start working with emotions”?

Well… that’s not quite it. The real question is more along the lines of “should I start with visualizations or with affirmations”? But that’s the wrong question because it presupposes you should start by changing something.

Let’s back up a little and ask a better question.

Are you clear on what specific behavior you would like to adopt?

For example, do you want to prospect 20 potential clients a day? Do you want to put up a website? Do you want to increase your connection with your child? If you don’t have that clarity, that’s where you need to start.

Feelings and emotions, on their own, aren’t a way to deeper fulfillment and accomplishment. They’re part of a larger gestalt for personal or professional realization. Emotion + naturally flowing action (both are required).

Let’s look at two examples — one personal and the other professional.

Personal example: Imagine that you’re a bit overweight right now, and you feel frustrated because you don’t seem to make any progress towards the shape you want.

The first step would be to get clarity on the behavior you want to consistently adopt.

For example, you could decide to begin every meal with a salad.

Or you could decide to only consume juicy fruits at breakfast.

Or you could decide to eat a single meal every day at 4pm.

Once you are clear on that behavior, you can start engineering emotion to support its execution. By so doing, you will simultaneously leave the state of frustration and enter a more empowering emotional state.

Professional example: Let’s say that you want to start your own business, but you’re deathly afraid of selling.

What you want to do — before anything else — is be clear on exactly what you’re afraid of and what you want to be able to perform confidently.

Are you afraid of talking to people — just in general?

Are you afraid of presenting a product or service?

Are you afraid of charging money for what you’d offer?

Are you afraid of hearing “no”?

Once you perceive clearly the sticking point, refocus on the effective behavior to adopt.

Would it be to call 5 prospects per day on the phone?

Or to create a recorded presentation of your offer?

Once again, once you have clarity on the behavior to adopt, you can start crafting and managing emotion to support it.

Each of these examples involves naturally flowing action — a way to direct emotion. Emotion can fuel that action, but, on its own, it’s not all that beneficial.

We don’t work with emotion just to feel good for its own sake — at least not all the time — otherwise we’d be better off just smoking weed and getting it over with. We work with emotion in order to act upon the world and transform our circumstances.

That’s an important distinction I don’t want you to miss. The point is for us to stop automatically feeling the way we do BECAUSE something happened. Instead, our goal is to proactively generate emotion as a means to express ourselves onto the world.

If you’re not looking to accomplish anything now, but you’ve noticed that someone around you isn’t performing at the level they could, personally or professionally, you can leverage emotion management to help them raise their game.

Empowering someone in raising their performance — overt or covertly — requires you to pay attention first so you can pinpoint how they trip themselves up…

Then, you influence them by targeting a specific emotional driver and making shifts to it. If it works, your job is done. If it doesn’t, you can go back and choose a different driver to target.

The good news is: at least one of the drivers WILL work. If you’re playful and approach this with an attitude of experimentation and discovery, you will always find it.

Here’s a real example I’ve used in the past with one of my employees at my chain of bakeries.

This young woman had herself a rather mean streak of perfectionism. Anytime she made a mistake in dealing with difficult clients, she would become so angry at herself that she sometimes needed a break to get herself back together.

I spent quite some time and attention observing and listening to her so I could better understand how she produced her reactions.

I get tremendous excitement listening to others and figuring out what triggers their patterns, so this was quite enjoyable for me.

After a while observing, it was clear to me that the way she spoke to herself had quite an impact on the way she felt after an unsuccessful interaction with a customer.

Once, I overheard her speaking with one of her colleagues, saying things like: “That was awful! No matter how much I try to remember the sequence of the script, I can’t do it!”

So I designed a little covert intervention targeting the language driver.

The next time a customer dispute came up, I walked up to the counter and asked her to allow me to handle the case. I purposefully made some errors in how I interacted in the customer (don’t worry, I wasn’t rude or inappropriate in any way — I was professional, but I simply didn’t follow the company’s textbook approach).

After the customer had left, I then turned to her, made a funny face and said with a comedic intonation: “Well that was underwhelming!” I then paused, took a deep breath and said: “I guess I’ll review the script and I know I’ll do better next time.”

I held the following hypothesis: if my suggestion worked, she would change her language and/or intensity the next time she made a mistake — and put herself in a more empowering place.

If it didn’t, I would simply go back to my map of drivers and choose another one to target. Eventually, either the sum of all would be cumulative, or I’d find the one that defused her emotion.

Either outcome would be useful.

Fortunately, it worked.

So, back to the initial question — where do you start?

If you know the behavior you would like to adopt in order to attain a particular result — even if you’re currently not consistent about it, then emotion management, or state craft as I sometimes call it, is an excellent way to guarantee you will move forward.

If there’s nothing you’d like to accomplish now or in the foreseeable future, I don’t think you’ll really benefit from emotion management as an active approach. (It may be simpler for you to just adopt passive approaches to changing your emotions.)

If there’s nothing you’d like to accomplish for yourself, but want to help your children, loved ones, clients or employees in improving their performance, emotion management can definitely help you to empower them in raising their level.

(You can use it to massively enhance your relationships as well, which is one of the strategies I’m most excited to share in The Emotion Engine.)

Tomorrow’s email will explain the structure of The Emotion Engine course so you know what to expect and how I’ve designed it to maximize your learning experience.

The Emotion Engine is all about showing you how to think about emotions, and then leveraging how to think to how to manage them.

You’ll want to reread today’s email a few times, then internalize the nuances of what’s been said.

If you have questions, or if you want to share an insight you had, head to the comments section here.

Talk tomorrow.

— Martin

P.S. All the emails of the series can be found here.

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