Leadership Lessons: How to Overcome Emotional Blind Spots

Emotional Blind Spots

Summary: Everyone has them. You cannot see them, yet, they are part of your life and can destroy a career (or marriage) if left untended. Here’s help tackling this evasive, confusing area.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I had a BIG wake-up call last week. Now, I’m finally ready to talk about it.

It is one of the patterns you talk about in your book “Don’t Bring It To Work.”

Let me paint the scene.

My name is Scott, and I am the “hero” of this story.

 I’m a forty-eight-year-old scientist, the COO of a medium-sized biotech company.

I love to make people happy, and my way to happiness is through laughter.

Being “the clown” at work is often an emotional blind spot.

OK, I’m going to stop here and add a joke that I hope will have you laughing.

The new hot-shot young executive was sitting at his desk when

he saw who he thought was his first client enter the outer office.

He picks up the landline and animatedly waves his arms, pretending

to be in deep conversation. After all, he is an important person.

Finally, he puts the phone down to welcome his new client and

says, “Hi. Can I help you?” The man responds.

“I’m here to install your new landline.”

(OK, time to laugh!! What’s funny is how he got caught trying to be a big shot!)

Now, let me get back to my issue.

Until a week ago, I always thought my colleagues embraced my good humor. I always told a joke before we signed off when we were Zoom only. We left the meetings with a smile.

Leadership Coaching helps you find patterns blocking success.

For example, Meeting One was on Zoom, and when I went to sign off with a joke, two folks with unmuted mics said variations of, “Enough, Scott. Your jokes are annoying.”

Meeting Two was in person at a lovely restaurant near the office. Without going into detail, there were three of us—my boss, a VP of research, a sales VP, and me, Mr. Scientist.

Toward the end of the meeting, my boss leaned over and very discreetly said, “Slow down on the humor and listen more.”

I will admit I was shocked and embarrassed. And to top it off, I was also angry.

I always thought I was a positive person who made others laugh.

Now, for the clincher.

My son called from college in the evening.

He was in the dumpster with his girlfriend, and of course, I started to tell him a joke to lighten things up.

His response was, “Dad, cut the crap. Those damn jokes are super annoying. Doesn’t anyone ever tell you how out of touch you sound?”

Then after a brief uncomfortable moment, he said, “You are great and caring. However, your timing needs some work. Let’s talk another time.” And with that, we hung up.

Emotional blind spots make you a “NOT SEE.”

My question: How the heck did I NOT SEE this? What was I missing? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me till now?

I also know from your patterns that they can be transformed.

Either I am the Clown who can become a humorist or a drama king who can become a storyteller.

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Blind Spot

Dear Blind Spot,

You are way ahead of the game by even being able to “see” you have a blind spot.

Firstly, let’s look at the whole idea of a blind spot.

Blind spots require a rearview mirror.

Think about that part of your eyes that has no image detection in that area.

You see, but you don’t.

For the most part, the human eyes report to the brain with an accurate picture. What you see is what’s out there. Except! Each human eye has a blind spot, and the brain works at filling in what is there by looking at the surrounding area.

Regarding emotions, we have blind spots that often develop when we are children. After all, we learned about life, what is safe and not safe, in our original organization, the family. That is what we take to work. And sadly, blind spots persist.

As kids, we played to our strengths. We wanted approval, and if we were good at math or singing, we kept making that area more and more developed. We would get praise, and it always would feel good. So, yes, we played to our strengths.

You, for example, realized you could make people laugh, and you have relied on that to sustain and cement relationships.

Only playing to strengths can cause much trouble in life.

If our past successes become our only approach to solving problems and if we insist on replicating our old successful strategy in a new environment, we can inadvertently lose.

Think about it; just being big, very, very big, was not enough to keep the dinosaurs alive.

Working with our weaknesses as well as our strengths is called adaptability. And that is one of the keys to long-term success.

An emotional blind spot is like the human eye. You cannot see what is there unless you move to a new position and do something differently. Move the mirror, if you will.

Ignore feelings because they are unpleasant, and they become a blind spot.

You become a “NOT SEE” (say this fast and shudder!).

What about these hidden places where you get stuck in the mud?

I say, leverage your strengths AND challenge your weaknesses.

For example, think about Serena Williams for a moment.

Is her toss, serve, forehand, or backhand the strongest? Whether you play tennis or not, learn from this remarkable woman. If she only perfected what she was most comfortable with, her natural strength, would she be the formidable star she is?

Those I know who play the best tennis (disclaimer, that is not me) often say the backhand is the most challenging. However, many games in tennis and life are lost because while strengths are leveraged, weaknesses stay just that.

And on the emotional side, it is more than hitting the ball harder that comes into play. Serena is a master of both attitudes and, yes, folks, intimidation.

Most importantly, back to you, Scott. You became a class clown and carried that into college and work. Not enough anymore.

The Clown at work can become a humorist… with better timing.

Therefore, you are in a great place to learn new skills.

Before you go “joke- mute,” I suggest you take a course to help you understand the power of timing. That means you will gain new listening skills and ways of responding.

The gift of four individuals telling you the same can move you to positive change.

In conclusion, learning to do your best, mastering the challenging areas that need to be stronger, and asking for help to see those blind spots, is a formula you can count on.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a strategy session to help you decide on practical next steps on your leadership journey. Firstly, grab a copy of Invisible Stress (It’s NOT What YOU Think) to learn about the patterns and call us.

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options