Coaching Conversations

Take The Emotional Baggage Out

August 08, 2022 Tim Hagen
Coaching Conversations
Take The Emotional Baggage Out
Show Notes Transcript

 This post will also not be very popular but I'm OK with that. As an entrepreneur we embody a lot of different positions in terms of the work that we do. It is not for the faint of heart and it is certainly not meant for a certain group of people yet let me just say at times it is very very hard. I also think working in the corporate workplace and managing teams is also very very hard. As we talk about mental health and all of the challenges associated with employees today and those are very really issues, I think we also have to talk about our honest relationship with emotional baggage.

Emotional baggage is when somebody brings their issues from home into the workplace and thrust them upon your shoulders whether with intention or not essentially stating you need to deal with this. It's funny because I've experienced this myself and I can also tell you when I talk to other people they have as well. When people bring in their personal issues into the workplace often looking for people to commiserate with, they are polluting the workplace. With that being said yes, we should be empathetic and find out what people are going through to see if we can help them. If they are not willing to help themselves let me make a bold statement: take the baggage and leave it curbside and move on.

I share this story with great diplomacy and I can give you a story from almost every single company we've worked with similar to this. I had an employee years ago who complained about their job vigorously within the first 30 days. The following comment was made to me with a raised voice” you never have time for me”. What was funny about this comment was I had actually spent the first two weeks of this employee’s tenure every morning from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM training them. Yet, within 30 days in their minds, I had never given them a minute of my time. The person literally started to stomp their feet outside my office and I began to laugh thinking this is almost humorous. After a one-hour conversation of calming the person down and appeasing them and making sure they were OK I thought to myself ”What the hell am I doing”? 

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Speaker 1:

One of the funniest things we all go through in leadership and coaching and training and all the things that we hear in the workplace is we talk about trust and integrity. And that comes with a really, really heavy responsibility. When you think about trust, being honest, it's tough. It's very tough. Now, we're also conditioned delight . Let's be honest. Your wife comes down the stairs, she's got a big stain on her dress. Her hair looks terrible, she looks goofy, and she says, How do I look? You're not gonna say awful. You're gonna do what? Ah , you look great in the workplace. By not being honest, we get ourselves in trouble. I'll share with you a very quick story. I had a leader who had an employee come up and say, How am I doing? And the leader was caught off guard by the request of the employee. And the employee was told in that moment, Oh, you're , you're , you're doing pretty good. And what ultimately happened was about two weeks later, the employee was written up and the manager went on and on about performance concerns. And the employee said, Well, I just asked you two weeks ago if I was doing well. And you said, Yeah. Oh, I , I'm sorry, I was rushed. I was , I was going from meeting to meeting. Here's the funny thing at that point, that employee lost trust. Guess what happened? That lack of trust started to make the rounds inside the company. Here's the other funny thing. Being honest in that moment is tough. So here's something for you to think about. Here's something for you to think about when you are having conversations with people. Being honest is tough. Now, people who know me know I can be extremely honest and extremely blunt. And I wanna share with you a concept and it's called emotional baggage. You know, one of the things that I have found being an entrepreneur and sharing this with other entrepreneurs is how much people, they say they don't want you to deal with their problems, but they will unload them. And we're all guilty of that present company included. Yet when it comes at the expense of conducting business, we have got to be very careful. Now, we have all these things out in the marketplace. You've gotta listen, you've gotta show empathy, You've gotta be there for your employees. You know, we're in a pandemic. Those are all important things that I've written about 'em . Yet, on the flip side, we've also gotta make sure that we do not take ownership of other people's emotional baggage that they have decided not to deal with. I'll give you an example. I have a client site who had an employee who, in the midst of leaving the organization, went around, was very negative, talked negatively about the president, took upon the audacity to privately film and record his exit interview.

Speaker 2:

He was quitting and he took it upon himself and posted it on social media. So I ran into this person and he started to talk and I said, I've, I , I've , I've gotta stop you . I'm not interested. I just need to be candid with you. The thought of listening to you right now on what happened after I saw the video that clearly you shot. I I I just choose not to talk to you. I hope you're okay with that. Wasn't mad , wasn't rude, wasn't disrespectful. And the guy was stunned. He goes, Yeah, but you don't understand. I said, No, you don't understand. That is a client of mine. I don't officially work there. I don't want to hear your emotional baggage. The way you dealt with it will ultimately become a cloud over your head. Years later, she is still struggling, still struggling to find employment because in that moment of anger, in that emotional baggage, in that emotional reaction, she forgot something very important. Oh my gosh, my future employers are gonna want references. And when I walked away, she literally followed me to my car and she said, No , I'm really surprised you're acting like this. I said, I came to the store for a reason. It was not to meet with you. I'm not trying to be disrespectful. I'm moving on. I wish you the nothing , nothing but the best of luck. Yet what you did is baggage that you're caring with you. You saw me. You didn't ask how I was, you didn't ask how my kids were. You didn't ask how my business was. You started to complain about your old employer from well over a year ago. Why would I wanna have that conversation? Don't, don't answer for you, answer for me. And to her credit, she said, Well, I guess you wouldn't. I said, I don't want to. Emotional baggage is when people haven't become self-aware and they start to put stuff into these bags and they carry 'em over to the shoulder, they come into work and say, Deal with this cuz I can't. Now for those of you who know me, you know that I'm a very upbeat, positive person. I'll do anything to help anybody. Yet we have to not lose sight of one fundamental rule. And that is this. If people cannot or are not willing to help themself , we cannot help them. And once we have people who bring in baggage such as woe is me, look at what I'm going through and my, my family member is sick, and those are important things. Don't get me wrong yet. I'm struggling financially or I can't have this, or this isn't going well. And you just never hear a positive thing. Sometimes these people unbeknownst to them, do something very interesting. They release it, they get it off their chest, and they don't even realize they're doing it. And once they do it, they get through

Speaker 3:

That moment and they say to themselves, Ah , I feel better. I just feel so much better. I got it off my chest. And they don't realize that they took this bag of crap, put it on your shoulders or put it on somebody's shoulders and said, Could he just hold this for me for a while ? So here's my advice. Look at your team. Look at that one or two people who might be carrying their baggage in every day , and you have to stop the entry of that baggage. You cannot own what they choose not to own. You cannot lift what they're not willing to lift. Emotional baggage is when someone comes into work, complains commiserates. Now as a coach, are we there for 'em ? Should we be there for 'em ? Absolutely. Yet, it cannot be front and center with other people. My advice is if you have someone lifting emotional baggage, bring it into work, put it curbside, or have a candid conversation that it can never be brought back into the office again.