Problem: How can we help men be mindful of their emotions and become better leaders?
Men are often associated with strength. We commonly see them take leadership roles in an organization as often as the head of a family. In a study initiated by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reveals that men tend to give up on life three times more often than women. This vulnerability affects how they relate at the workplace and function in their relationships. To some extent, suppressed emotions lead to violent acts perpetrated by men. As they are rarely taught how to process their emotions properly, men’s emotional disconnection is the number one threat facing most businesses today. How can we help them avoid making decisions with permanent consequences based on temporary feelings?
When I looked at my career, I’ve studied the impact that emotion has on human behavior for 25 years, largely in the context of sales and leadership. I’ve taught courses and programs on how to sell more widgets by making better emotional connections with your customer. How do you become a better leader by understanding the emotions that drive you and your team’s behaviors? So when I really looked at this event,I thought, this was a guy that made a decision with very permanent consequences based on a very temporary emotion.
A Framework to Help Men Process Emotion and Vulnerability
It’s crucial to create a safe space for men to practice their emotional stability, allow them to fully express vulnerability, and allow them to vent out. Families and friends should always remember that men are not invincible, and they also experience grief, trauma, and overwhelming loss. With the right avenues and guidance, men can perform better in an organization, especially if they fully grasp how and why those emotions surface and affect their behavior. In this episode, Mike Cameron talks about the S.O.A.R framework, a method he designed to help men better understand their emotions and behaviors.
I created this organization where we will host men’s groups, literally with the intention of practicing feeling, we practice vulnerability. And the framework that we use is the acronym S.O.A.R.
Step # 1: Slow Down
Mike suggested that men need to take a break once in a while to process emotions and trauma that they usually ignore because of a busy life. To perform at your best, taking a pause is necessary, so you can reflect on what’s going on and how you’re feeling. Being quiet isn’t really about doing nothing, it’s also about being intentional in spending time to reflect on the things that happened.
So in my coaching groups we will do a 5-minute meditation to start. If I’m in a business context, I will take 60 seconds, and I’ll just say, “Hey, let’s just pause. I want everybody to get grounded, get centered, let’s let go of all the bullshit that’s going on outside these walls”. And let’s just get present, right here, right now.
Step #2: Open Up
Feelings are tricky to communicate, especially if you don’t practice them often. You can help a man open up by asking simple questions and showing genuine concern to validate their feelings. While most men appear confident, they need constant affirmation that it’s okay to feel that way, since we experience various emotions daily. Encourage men to express what they feel by constantly engaging them in conversations and avoiding judgment whenever they express their feelings.
Going around the room, doing that check-in, I will often ask for two words. Give me two feeling words. What’s coming up for you right now? And we’ll just go around the room, and it doesn’t have to be long. So maybe he’s stressed and tired. If those are the two words that you use. It gives me a little bit of an indication as to where you are at today and how you might respond to some of the things that we need to deal with.
Step # 3: Accept
Mike reminds us that acknowledging your emotions is good because they’re part of what makes you human. Although things may not be perfect, they won’t always be that way. All of us are always a work in progress. Accepting who you are and the circumstances in which you find yourself will help you set a clearer plan of action. Being comfortable in your own skin will help you attain your goals and deal with the daily struggles that’ll come your way.
And then that acceptance piece, just accepting that maybe [David] is tired and stressed today and that’s okay.
Step # 4: Reconnect
Engage with people who can provide emotional support to see the bigger picture that you would have missed if you choose to isolate. You will gain a broader perspective and greater realization by relating these emotions to your current situation, whether in business or personal life.
Men everywhere are literally dying for somebody to give them permission to feel. If you look at the suicide rates men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women. Finding that way to reconnect emotionally with self is huge. The reason I’m passionate about teaching men emotional reconnection is because emotionally connected men don’t freaking kill people. Emotionally connected men don’t kill themselves. Emotionally connected men make better leaders. They make better fathers. They make better partners.
Redefining strength through emotional vulnerability
Mike Cameron shares the lessons from the letter that helped him overcome grief when his girlfriend was murdered. The letter was written by Ram Dass, for a couple, whose daughter, Rachel died.
- Be strong enough to remain conscious through such experiences of grief.
Experiences of grief also means receiving lessons in life. And, we have obligation to remain conscious of absorbing the teachings that we’ve been receiving. Process your emotions and take all the lessons you can learn from that tragic experience.
- Our rational minds will never understand, but our hearts will find their intuitive way if we keep them open. We spend so much time trying to figure out why things happen the way they do. But sometimes, what our minds cannot rationalize, our hearts can understand. We may not know the answers to our questions right now, but we’ll find a peace that surpasses all understanding by having an open heart.
- Now is the time to let your grief find expression, don’t pretend to be strong. We should acknowledge grief because suppressing emotions will negatively affect us. We all have to go through the tough times in life, and we have to decide if we are woods that burn down to ashes, or we choose to be a refined precious metal that gets better as these experiences struck us and pound us.
Mike Cameron Recommends These Resources
- Participate in gender equality, visit Ignore No More Run For Respect
- His Tedx Talk Redefining badass: the way men think of strong is wrong
- Join supportive spaces for men to practice emotional mastery at Connect’d Men: Men’s Group