The Essential Outcome of Quadrant 2: Emotional Centeredness

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Emotional centeredness is the ability to tune into our emotions and

the emotional context of situations and derive valuable information

that we use to move things forward constructively. It is the ability

to experience emotions without being taken over by them. For

example, even though Jack was angry with Stan, he was able to have

a meaningful conversation with him that reduced the tension in

their situation and resulted in appropriate actions being taken. If

Jack had lost his emotional center, he might have gone back and

berated Stan to try and get him to deliver on his agreement. Jack

might have felt better after venting his anger, but this kind of interaction

erodes the foundations of trust and respect that are essential

in highly functional relationships. Emotional centeredness is especially

important when there is the need to step into emotionally

charged situations and find a solution. This is the real hallmark of

personal development in Quadrant 2.

People who tend to vent their emotions or intimidate others with

their emotional outbursts can cause huge amounts of disruption

and ill will in organizational settings. Equally disruptive, although

not always as obvious, are the misunderstandings and roadblocks

that arise when people refuse to acknowledge and deal with their

emotions and the emotions of others. The ability to find one’s center

and interact with others from that place of strength creates an environment

where problems get resolved and people feel safe and

respected. Just as we need to find our physical center to move into

the second quadrant, we need to find our emotional center to

progress our development into Quadrant 3.Mastery is not required,

but sufficient experience to not fly off the handle or duck and run

when emotions heat up is necessary.

Continuing with the basketball analogy from the previous

chapter, Quadrant 2 development is like a basketball player who has

solid person basketball skills and is now deepening his appreciation

of the strengths of the other players on his team. This new level of

insight allows him to create plays that take his own skills to a new

level and capitalizes on the talents of others.

In Quadrant 2, coaches guide clients to become aware of their own

emotional landscape and the emotional context of their environment.

These insights are woven into the fabric of the coaching work

and are introduced in ways in which the client is comfortable. By

helping the client to find effective ways of using his or her own

emotional insight to create positive outcomes, the coach rolemodels

how to create clarity in emotionally charged situations. The

following are some possible coaching tools and approaches for

Quadrant 2:

_ Change perspectives to change behavior. In order for a client to

choose to embrace a new way of working, he must first change

his perspective. Jack was not likely to give up his directive,

expert way of approaching his role without buying into the idea

that becoming a partner with his customers and internal

service providers would bring him the kind of success he was

looking for. This shift in perspective has to happen at the emotional

level; that is, the client cannot just think about something

differently, he needs to experience what it feel like to

know that it is real. In Jack’s case, his first successful interactions

that allowed him to experience the power of being in a

partnership with others were crucial.

Coaches guide clients to step successfully into the kinds of

experiences that shift perspective. The process is one of engaging

the client in dialogue that opens the client to perceive a situation

from a different perspective. In Jack’s case, Anne helped

Jack see that there was a dynamic in his client relationships of

Jack taking orders from the clients and then sometimes struggling

to carry them out. Jack and Anne explored how those relationships

would be different if Jack saw himself more as a

partner. He was excited about evolving his client relationships

in this new direction. The next step is to anchor the client’s new

perception with a positive experience. In Jack’s case, Anne

coached him to enter into conversations with his customers

that opened the door to partnership. It took time to make the

shift, but with the new perception of being a partner, Jack felt

a strong connection to the direction in which he was heading.

_ Build the connection between the body and the emotions. Emotions

need to be experienced. There is little value in thinking

about emotions; you have to work with them directly. How

many times have you tried to convince yourself not to feel a

certain way, only to find that for all of your perfectly rational

reasons to the contrary, the emotion still remained? Emotions

are experienced in the body, so in order to expand the emotional

vocabulary of a client, the coach must guide the client to

identify how the client experiences various emotions in his or

her body. For example, a client may remember a time when she

felt slighted and notice the physical sensations that accompany

this emotion; perhaps she experienced heaviness around her

heart or tension in the chest. Once clients get the hang of

making this connection, they will do it naturally without

having to be so deliberate about the process. Noticing the connection

between the body and the emotions is essential for

developing the first touchstone, expanding your emotional


When Anne was coaching Jack regarding his conversations

with Stan, the IT person, she asked him to notice how he felt

about the conversations and how he experienced those feelings

in his body. This request seemed a bit odd to Jack, but when

he remembered the conversations that he had with Stan, he

noticed that he felt an uneasy feeling in his solar plexus, like

something was off. He realized that if he had tuned into those

sensations earlier, he might have spoken with Stan about his

concerns before they escalated. Anne encouraged him to check

in with his body from time to time to bring his feelings into his


_ Work with intentions. Recognizing and dealing with the emotional

level of situations requires opening up to the messy

reality of life. Once an emotionally charged conversation is

engaged, there is often no telling where it will go. Some clients

find this prospect frightening. Jack’s greatest fear about setting

some clear boundaries with his customer was the possibility

that the customer would have a strong negative reaction. Anne

worked with him beforehand to clearly identify his intention

for the conversation, which was to set clear limits with his customer

in a way that did not jeopardize the relationship. Intentions

are different than goals; intentions point in a direction,

whereas goals tend to focus on a very specific outcome. Setting

a clear intention about what the client wants to create allows

the client maneuvering room to reach the desired destination

without having to take a particular stand. This flexibility

fosters the kind of dialogue that is needed for building solid


_ Uncover assumptions. We all make assumptions. We assume

that people will respond to situations in a certain way; we

assume that they know particular information; we assume that

they see things the same way that we do because to us, it is

obvious. Unfortunately, what is obvious to one person is not

obvious to another. Jack assumed that Stan understood the

changes that needed to be made to the Web site. Perhaps Jack

was so familiar with the material that it was just obvious to him

what needed to happen, but it certainly was not obvious to

Stan. Unstated and unchecked assumptions cause all kinds of

problems in communications. The coach needs to listen for and

uncover assumptions that underlie coaching issues, and help

the client see how the assumptions that he or she is making may

be contributing to a misunderstanding. Eventually, clients

begin to recognize their own assumptions as they are making

them and check out the ones that need to be confirmed.

One of the more frequent assumptions made is that others

know what is expected of them or that we know what is

expected of us. Unmet expectations can cause misunderstandings,

which can be avoided by investing some time at the beginning

of a new project or new relationship to clearly state how

two people will work together and what they can expect from

each other.

_ Translate emotions into language. Some people are uncomfortable

in the realm of emotion. Emotions can seem too messy

and personal. They don’t want to go there. It is the coach’s role

to listen for and articulate the emotional component of a situation

in language that the client finds approachable. Sometimes

you have to go in through the back door. Rather than talking

about how someone feels about something, the coach can

inquire about how something “landed” with the client or ask

about the client’s “reactions.” Sometimes the coach will need to

fill in the emotional blanks for the client with observations such

as “it sounds like you are feeling irritated that this happened,”

or “I can hear that you are excited about this possibility.” The

coach might miss the mark with a statement, but as the client

clarifies where she is at, she will identify her own emotional

state, and there is tremendous value in this realization. It is

important that the coach not back away from the emotional

aspects of coaching, just because the client is not completely

comfortable. As clients become more comfortable with discussing

how they are feeling, they integrate the language of

emotions into their conversations, creating the context for

more meaningful dialogue with others.

_ Getting clear versus getting caught. It is the coach’s role to help

a client gain insight from his emotional experience so that he

gains insight into what needs to happen next to resolve a situation.

The worst thing a coach can do is get caught up with the

client in the emotion—like jumping into the pool of anger or

pity with the client, there is no one left on the edge to pull either

person out.

Our emotions tell us a story about what is going on below

the surface in a situation. If you follow the thread of emotions

back through the story, you will come to the heart of the matter

and the key for moving it forward. When Anne began asking

Jack to recount the conversations he had with Stan and how he

felt about them, she was coaching Jack to find the point at

which the train left the track, which turned out to be the

assumptions that were made about how the Web site changes

would be done. If Anne had gotten caught up in Jack’s frustration,

she might have joined in the chorus of complaining about

Stan’s incompetence. Instead, she kept her sights focused on

helping Jack view the situation from different perspectives and

drawing insight from the new awareness that unfolded. From

this clearer vantage point, the question “What do you want to

have happen?” is much easier to answer, and workable resolutions

can be found.

This is the touchstone translate emotions into intentions in

action. It lies at the heart of building relationships that can

weather the emotional storms that blow through our professional

lives from time to time.When we get caught in the storm

of our own emotions, we sometimes throw away relationships

that we need and value because we cannot find our way

through to a calmer place. Coaches help clients learn how to

navigate in these rough waters so that their clients can build

and maintain strong, lasting relationships.