May 25, 2020

Supporting Employee Emotions

David Rock, Ph.D. coined the acronym SCARF which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. These are the five domains that influence us emotionally, much of the time as a threat. Leaders can mitigate the impact of SCARF threats by creating some SCARF rewards. Status Common status threats include not being able to influence work decisions, feeling one’s opinions or concerns are minimized, being a target of sarcasm or ridicule, and feeling disrespected. Leaders can work to diminish this threat through soliciting employee concerns and perspectives, active listening, demonstrating vulnerability (I’m having a hard time with this, too) and […]
April 28, 2020

Uncertainty Reigns

People crave certainty. Knowing what is coming next frees our brain to perform. It is easy to drive and talk to your passenger at the same time until the car in front of you slams on its brakes. We instantly respond to the threat. Our brains will focus on that uncertainty until it is resolved. Then we can go back to our normal functioning. Those brake lights have been facing us for several weeks, even months. Our uncertain world has no defined outcome.   This level of stress over time becomes distress. Stress shows itself differently among different people.   And […]
January 13, 2020

Bad Trumps Good

Threat is more powerful than reward because our brains are designed to keep us safe. Studies show the avoid (threat) response generates more arousal, more quickly and lasts longer than the approach (reward) response. The limbic system within the brain controls our emotions. It can process information within a fifth of a second before it reaches conscious awareness. It remembers whether something should be avoided or approached. We may consider this intuition. It is reflex designed for survival. Physical and social pains produce similar responses. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows the same areas of the brain are stimulated whether the […]