The heartful leader – part 7

The heartful leader - part 7
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In previous articles RAVI VENKATESAN has introduced the Heartful Leader framework and explored Reputation, Trust & Relationships, and Outer Behavior. He also explored what constitutes our Inner State and how to manage it by reversing negative cycles and triggering positive cycles. In this article he dives deeper into specific shifts that we can make to our behavior, and also learn a simple 3-step process that we can use for this.


One of the most important shifts we can make is to not imagine things going wrong in our heads. Too many times we tend to make up stories in our minds about how an upcoming meeting or interaction will go negatively, and our mind will exaggerate this over multiple cycles of repeating the same thoughts.

Take the example of Pooja, an accountant at a consulting company. She always dreads her conversations with John, the head of client services. John tends to be dismissive of Pooja’s concerns about how the company invoices customers. Pooja wants to ensure that everything is done by the book, so that the company doesn’t get into trouble with audits. John is always in the mode of being “flexible” for clients and believes that Pooja should handle the details later without bothering him. Pooja has an upcoming meeting to discuss the way invoices for one of the company’s largest clients have been pre-paid, even before services have been rendered. The proper way to do this would have been to bill after services were rendered. At the very least the revenue should be amortized over a longer period, but John always tends to want to recognize the revenue sooner.

Even ahead of the meeting, Pooja starts building up anger about how John will be dismissive of her concerns. She feels unfairly treated, and falls into the negative cycle of discontent, restlessness, anger, fear and lack of clarity. The anxiety of this upcoming meeting disturbs her to such an extent that she loses sleep over it.



She mentions the situation casually to Sylvie, the HR head of the company. Sylvie realizes that she is falling into a trap of assuming that things will go badly without giving them a fair chance to go well. She suggests that Pooja try to approach the conversation very positively, with a couple of options and assures her that if John is dismissive of her concerns then she will address it from an HR perspective.

Pooja decides to approach the meeting with an open mind and prepares carefully. She creates a couple of options to deal with the situation.

Her conversation with John ends up going very positively. Initially he comes across defensively, because he believes she is going to raise concerns and place roadblocks before him. However, once he realizes that Pooja has options for him and is trying to constructively address the situation, his tone changes, and he starts appreciating her help. In this case an external agency, Sylvie, intervened to shift Pooja’s inner state, and consequently her outer behavior. Instead of feeling angry and coming across frustrated, she came across as calm and constructive.

This shift can also be self-triggered. All we need to do, is to follow a simple 3-step process:



Taking the same example as above, with the benefit of this process, Pooja would have noticed that she is assuming negative outcomes. She would have purposefully shifted herself to neutral by relaxing herself. She would have then put herself in a positive mindset, triggering the positive cycle of contentment -> peace -> love -> courage -> clarity.

As an exercise, observe yourself for the next few days. Catch yourself falling into negative feelings and emotions and apply the above 3-step process. Over time, this will become a habit, and you will find your outer behavior reflects a positive inner state, which leads to positive interactions.



Article by RAVI VENKATESAN


Ravi Venkatesan

About Ravi Venkatesan

Ravi lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently works as Chief Technology Officer in a software solutions company. He is also a regular public speaker and public speaking coach. He has been a Heartfulness meditator for over 20 years and is passionate about applying meditation lessons to improve workplace relationships and productivity.


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