According to dozens of studies there is strong evidence for the universal facial expressions of seven emotions - anger, contempt, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Some scientists call them as basic emotions.
As a child we see them expressed by other people around us and we also feel and express them. Depending on the environment we are growing up in, some of them are more acceptable to express than others. In certain ego states we can experience and express them more frequently than in other ego states. Instead of calling an emotion positive or negative, I like classifying them as constructive or destructive. Based on this, joy is destructive when felt and expressed by a kid who is bullying another kid that is suffering from it. Anger is constructive if I express it towards an invader in my garden who is about to hurt my kids. Any emotion can be constructive or destructive based on the context I am observing.
In this post I will write about the seven destructive aspects of emotions in relation to the five maladaptive ego functions (i.e. -CP; -NP; -CC; -RC and -FC). Why is it useful for you as a leader - or a teacher, parent or anyone dealing with people? The answer is simple. BECOMING AWARE OF YOUR OR OTHERS' EMOTIONS CAN CREATE A CHOICE TO ACT DIFFERENTLY. If you see any of the signs I am writing about below when being with your team members, family members, friends or people in the street, you can predict a possible negative outcome of the situation, if nothing is done to change the situation. I call an ego state maladaptive when in the interpersonal relationship Discounting is happening leading to a limited or destructive outcome. In other words, I don't think that a problem exists (but actually it does), I think it is not important (but actually it is), I think it cannot be solved (but it can), or I am not able to solve it (but actually I am). I will use the functional ego state model to connect them with the 7 emotions.
To read more about the functional ego state model, please visit this page.
I summarize the most frequently felt destructive emotions based on the functional ego state model below. As you see, there is no anger next to the Nurturing Parent and no Fear next to the Free Child. I represent it this way because if these emotions are authentic when felt, they don't really trigger nurturing or experiencing freedom - even in their negative aspect. In special cases (Rackets), however, they can be suppressed and covered by other emotions on the surface. Underneath they can still fuel the NP or the FC behaviors. In this post I am not writing about these special cases. I concentrate on the examples when these emotions are really felt and expressed or felt and suppressed.
To read more about Rackets, please visit this page.
One more thing to highlight before I describe them: the choice is ours which (adaptive) options we use as a response: +CP; +NP; A; +CC; +RC or +FC. I will guide you through emotion by emotion bringing examples of the maladaptive ego states to help you become aware of them when seeing them in you or in others. Are you ready?
Here is the map first:
Now let us see the 7 basic emotions appearing in the five maladaptive ego states. I will briefly describe 33 patterns.
1 - JOY
(A) Negative Critical Parent (-CP)
The fact that you can control others and exercise power over them gives you pleasure. If you are a leader like this, you won't be popular and you might see your members evaporating as time goes by. Why? You discount their needs. You become a Persecutor. You maintain an I am OK you are NOT OK relationship. You preach and tell others what to do and you can even feel euphoria because of it.
(B) Negative Nurturing Parent (-NP)
You care too much and discount others' potential and ability to solve their own problems. You are ready and happy to help. On the surface, from other teams or from outside of the company a leader having this approach may look like very nice and helpful. What is the problem here? This might discount your own needs making even a martyr of yourself. There is too much sacrifice here from your side. You also discount their ability to solve problems by themselves. You become a Rescuer. You maintain an I am OK you are NOT OK relationship. They can be OK only if you put extra effort in it. And you reinforce it because you see reaching your goals. But, hello! Nobody asked you to help.
(C) Negative Conforming Child (-CC)
Following others and saying yes, showing obedience, being submissive and being led, to belong somewhere can give you safety and feelings of security. It can become a resource of pleasure for you. Your loyalty can be rewarded. You may become a Victim once you realize you discounted other options or resources or your abilities to act or decide other ways. You can be taken advantage of. I am NOT OK you are OK is the basis here. You long for acceptance and recognition. By being accepted, led and welcomed by OK people (for example your manager or his or her manager), you can think of yourself as OK too. "Same gang, huh?" It is a conditional relationship that can be too energy consuming after a time. The final station of this approach is called Victim.
(D) Negative Rebellious Child (-RC)
Resisting in a situation and walking your own way, against the norms others mutually accepted, can give you satisfaction and the illusion of independence. It can put you in a Persecutor role, then you can find yourself in a Victim position when becoming abandoned or even excommunicated. "No! We will go someplace else" can be your reaction to an invitation for a departmental offsite event. Showing your resistance and separation from the others can give you pleasure, especially if your team members give you respect. You may not see the big picture here and discount the reason behind the event and the goal of it.
(E) Negative Free Child (-FC)
Under the given circumstances you are feeling so good, having a good time that you distort, misinterpret or discount other people's needs. They see you as a Persecutor. When for example dancing in the middle of the dance floor at the offsite event stepping on others' toes you will suddenly be given feedback. This immediately can put you in the Victim role taking your joy away. If a leader seems happy and optimistic that is great. But when others need to "pay for it", that is a different story.
2 - FEAR
When you are afraid of losing your status or position or when an important value or belief has been challenged by others, you may (over)react it from fear. You can say or do something that would put you in the Persecutor role - even if your perceived threat is not real. Fear is not easy to hide. You can be a leader or a team member.
When you worry too much about others or the circumstances, you might believe that you must do something to Rescue your loved ones, colleagues or even perfect strangers. In other words you do things they never ask you to do. You can even believe if you keep worrying, the disaster can be avoided. This is magical thinking.
When you fear of failure or rejection, you might withdraw and become passive. You experience, helplessness. You see the situation hopeless and you become desperate. You believe you are not capable of solving the problem or asking for help. This belief keeps you stuck in the Victim position. If you do it as a leader, the attitude and the morale of your team members will be quickly decreased.
Being afraid of losing your personal autonomy and independence (typically when perceiving you have been cornered - be it real or imagined) or losing a relationship (when for example a loved one is dying), you might do or say something to express your resistance. When a significant change is happening to you and it brings uncertainty, it might motivate maintaining unhealthy lifestyles (like drinking, smoking, using drugs or seeking dangerous situations). I saw leaders and team members doing significant overwork (i.e. becoming workaholic). They believed if they do this, things can be changed back. Dp be careful. It holds the Victim position too.
3 - ANGER
You feel righteous and you tell others what to do (or what they should have done) believing they don't have the ability to think or solve the problem by themselves. You become a Persecutor when your anger is inappropriate, too intensive or last too long. You can be passive-aggressive as well to power play with others to get them do what they would otherwise not want to.
It can be hard to recognize. When you suppress your anger. You swallow it. You do what others ask you to do with your hidden anger. You suppress it and it is very dangerous. It can make you sick when happening on the long run. Typically when rebelling or assertion would be appropriate, you become submissive without feeling and expressing what you are experiencing. (It is a similar pattern when you Rescue others from -NP and your suppressed anger is substituted by another emotion like sadness.) It can happen to a leader when coming from a leadership meeting he or she is trying to hide the anger born inside during the meeting, not to "infect" the team members with it.
An anger-driven resistance can be used to punish others as part of a power play. Revenge, temper tantrum, keeping somebody up, stonewalling (withdrawing from communication), ignoring others, and even fasting or self-harm all belong here. When your team members are inviting you to go to the canteen with them for a lunch, you can rebel by choosing not to eat just to resist. It is not a healthy way of communication and treating your body.
Turning trash cans upside down, using graffiti, going out with wet hair, shaving your hair or walking naked on the street can bring you the belief you are independent when expressing your frustration and anger. The goal of these actions is to express yourself and show you walk your own way and you don't care what others think. When the -RC is doing these actions, what others think or feel do matter. When a leader does not care what others think of his or her behaviour when breaking some rules or crossing boundaries, it is not constructive.
4 - SADNESS
When becoming sad and disappointed believing you invested energy, time or other resources in vain in someone, you might express your bitterness in a criticizing, judgemental way. You see the other person helpless, unable to think or learn and inferior. You can decide to withdraw your support and investing in the relationship.
It can be even more destructive than the previous one. It can fuel the "I just want to help you" game. You are so sad because you see the other person clumsy and you invest even more into the Rescue process. When it does not work, you invest even more until you run out of patience/energy/time etc. and you can switch to -CP and start Persecuting the other person (or persons).
This is depression. You can experience this for two reasons. First, if you perceive you cannot do anything to change the situation. This is the I am NOT OK you are OK relation. You expect others to Rescue you because you are a Victim. Second, you see the other person unable to do anything for you. This is the I am not OK you are NOT OK relation. It sucks all of your energy out of you. You might need external help to get out of here. This can happen when due to an organizational change your team members are losing their jobs and you cannot do anything. The problem starts when you blame yourself and you see the whole organizational world unfair and as a vicious enemy.
This is hard to recognize. You are passive. By doing nothing or not responding you can express how helpless you see yourself or the other person. When failing the exam for the third time, you may reject and invitation where you could gain resources to change the situation. You won't show up, it "slips your mind" or you become "blind and deaf" as you become extremely introverted. When a leader's -RC is triggered by sadness, the members start producing stories about the reason behind the weird behaviour. It is because of the lack of communication.
You feel you have the right to show your heartache (for example after a break up) on your own way. You lose someone and your grief is becoming a Persecution for your environment because of the weird and extreme fashion you are pursuing. When for example listening to the deceased's favorite music in the middle of the night or wearing black clothes and being sad in the office all the time to express and ease your own distress.
5 - SURPISE
An unexpected cue can make you do or say something you regret later. Your impulsive reaction puts others down. Instead of being aware of it and apologizing for what has happened, you tend to blame them. You see that they deserve it. It makes a leader unpopular quite soon.
The same cue can also make you sacrifice more, invest more or do more things you would not want to do. Unexpected guests pop in. You impulsively start serving drinks and food and make sure everybody is comfortable. Your team members can bring up a "scary" topic suddenly at a meeting and you make promises you might regret after the meeting immediately.
The stimulus pushes you out of your comfort zone. Your immediate reaction is to reduce the uncertainty which causes much distress for you. Suddenly you cannot find resources so you can be speechless, you freeze. You can get carried away and your mind can go blank without understanding what is being said to you. You want to adapt and you make decisions, agreements or promises later you regret. If it is seen on a leader, weakness will be projected on him or her.
When your colleagues and friends organize a surprise party for you and you enter the room they have been waiting for you, you turn around and walk away. You express you don't want to be part of what is happening. You might show exaggerated facial expressions.
This can be an extreme form of reaction from your side. You don't care how loud you scream or laugh. You may have the impulse to splash others with water or use dirty words in the heat of the moment. If you receive an email that surprises you, you may laugh out loud. Doing this as a leader too many times will make your team members "wear ear plugs".
6 - DISGUST
It can be the source of the most dehumanising acts humans can demonstrate - especially when it is seasoned with some anger. It can be the recipe for a "lethal cocktail". When you express you are not willing to approve what another person thinks, feels, does or says, you can separate yourself from it by reacting in an authoritative way. You do everything to remove these unacceptable stimuli from your environment or destroy them never to return. When you say "You don't even understand me" or "How can one even think of this?", you expect the other person increase the distance between you and them. If disgust is present in your leadership, the days of your good relationship with your target(s) are numbered.
When disgust is felt triggered by seeing others making mistakes, being clumsy or suffering, experiencing pain or even bleeding, it can make you do actions to make the other person more OK (i.e. Rescue them). Again, nobody asked you to help but you believe you must do everything you can do to eliminate the terrible things happening around you.
It is not easy to recognize. When disgust would be the appropriate response with increasing distance (for example because someone smelly is invading into your intimate zone wanting you to do something you don't want to do), you suppress it believing you cannot do anything or if you do it, the consequences will be catastrophic. This can make you numb. This can cause serious harm psychologists call "split". The healthy response is rebelling and getting rid of the "poisonous" and harmful stimulus (and not conforming and allowing it to make more harm).
When you are about to get rid of the harmful stimulus but you overdo it. Instead of shouting at the person in the office, you toss them away from you. You share the story via the social media or you become a harmful stimulus for them by taking unethical, unlawful actions.
(E) - FC
You organize noisy and antisocial demonstrations to express your indignation. You don't care about the consequences and impact of your actions on others. You don't even realize what you are doing is not good for others around you.
7 - CONTEMPT
Showing your superiority can be disguised easily with a smile but your actions can demonstrate that you position yourself way up higher than the other person. If a team member asks "Can I go home 30 minutes earlier?" and you just say "Huh?" with a contemptuous smile on your face, putting your arms on your hip and turning around leaving the person behind, you gave an obvious Persecutor answer. You won't be a popular leader if you follow this strategy.
When you see one of your subordinates making mistakes, you can decide to go there with the same smile described above and solve his or problem. No one asked you to help. You Rescued the poor guy who "just does not get it" - you believe.
(C) - CC
You do what others asked you to do but at the same time you express that your suggestion, idea, initiation or approach is far better that what you are following now. It is a very mild expression. Others may not even recognize it.
You may use ambiguous or hurting words to express your superiority by denying to follow the other person. "You just don't think we accept this? You ridiculous Yankee!" It can cause lots of friction and conflicts when people or groups put themselves higher based on what they believe in, value or who they are.
You establish a club, religion, movement or association and recruit members to express your superiority over of those inferior ones. You don't care how much you disturb others with this activity. You can display your printed out paper on the board in your office to ask the other team members to work more silently as "there are others here who work not just talk".
If you have any questions, comments or stories, share them with me via email. We can publish them here.
(c) NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION COACH - www.nonverbalcommunicationcoach.com
by Bali Polyanki
(c) All Rights Reserved 2017