Eradicating Emotional Blindspots (PEAR)

Emotions are par for the course until you educate yourself and develop awareness.

Take a simple example: when you’re tired you’re much more likely to get angry and yell at someone. But when is the last time you took this into consideration when you were in the middle of biting someone’s head off for a minor infraction?

I’ve developed a framework to eradicate emotional blindspots. As I mentioned, emotions are P.A.R. for the course until you E.ducate yourself.

Here are the 4 steps you can use to diagnose an emotional blindspot and develop a plan to eradicate it:

  • The PEAR process:
  • Problem
    • Identify past problems that are likely to recur.
    • For example, have you been a part of projects where it was about impossible to get things done? Countless meetings occur with people discussing minor details ad nauseam?
    • Make sure these problems are worth pursuing.
  • Educate
    • Once you’ve identified problems worth pursuing, educate yourself about the emotional underpinnings of the problems you identified.
    • For example, anxiety is often the culprit when people are mired in the minutiae of a project. Anxiety is the result of a lack of perceived control of the project because there are many uncertainties. The problem is that many aspects of a project will remain uncertain until you start working and possibly until after you’re done. Nonetheless, we’re often blind to this, and quite often we try to gain control over these uncertainties.
    • Next, enumerate past situations and discuss how they could’ve played out differently had you known then what you know now. For example, you might have taken the time to delineate the big picture. Then, when trivial details dominate a discussion, politely remind yourself that they can wait.
    • Next, find future situations where you might fall into this emotional trap.
      • For example, you might know of a large project coming up. Put a reminder on your calendar, if it’s still a few months out, to review emotional blindspots when the project kicks off and throughout.
      • Sometimes you can’t plan the intervention, in which case you should describe what it feels like when the emotional blindspot has taken over. With anxiety this is likely going to be frustration, perhaps you feel like you just can’t quite organize the details in a meaningful fashion. Perhaps you endlessly find yourself concerned with details, worried about what could go wrong.
  • Awareness
    • Eventually you have to catch yourself with your hand in the cookie jar. I like to referred to this as awareness in that moment. If you are aware of the problem, as it’s happening, you can do something about it.
    • For example, if you’re in a meeting that feels like it’s dragging on, and you have a list of several hundred concerns about a project, it’s probably time to refocus on what exactly the big picture entails, and separate out the details that can wait.
  • React
    • Ideally, when you become aware in the moment, you’ll do something about it. That’s not always possible, sometimes it’s uncomfortable to do something new.
    • If you’re not the boss, you might find it difficult to raise a concern about being lost in the details. Eventually though, this concern will fade, and you’ll be able to react in the moment to avoid letting the emotional blind spot run amuck.
    • Every time you react differently, in the moment, you’re one step closer to forming a new habit.