I’ve been rewatching the new Picard series – which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. I am a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, and I love Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
In this new series, I am particularly taken by a group of Romulan warrior nuns called the Qowat Milat. Don’t worry! You don’t have to understand anything in the last sentence to get value from the rest of the blog. (But how awesome is a group of Romulan warrior nuns who only bind their sword to lost causes?!)
What I really like about the Qowat Milat is that they live “The Way of Absolute Candor.” They believe in “total communication of emotion without filter between thought and word.” Wow! Can you imagine what life would be like if we all practiced absolute candor?
We wouldn’t have to guess any more about whether or not someone was angry with us. If they were upset, they’d just say, “I’m upset about this.” We’d know immediately if it was something that we said or the fact that we are out of orange juice.
If we were hurt by someone’s comment, we’d just tell them. I recently had someone that I pay money to for consulting say to me, “I don’t know why you’d ask that question.” I did not tell this person that they had pissed me off, were not fostering psychological safety, and needed a refresher course in delivering customer service that delights.
I swallowed my anger and went on with the discussion. In truth, I didn’t do either of us any favors in the long run. We continue to work together, and I do not like this person. I did not give them a chance to see how their behavior was perceived. I never opened the door to the opportunity of repairing the relationship because the other person had no idea that there was a problem.
How one practices absolute candor would be key. In Picard, two members of a small crew hook up one night. There is some awkward tension between them the next morning. The character who practices absolute candor said, “The obvious tension between you makes me uneasy.” It was said in a calm and nonjudgmental way. Brilliant!
In systems coaching, we call that “naming the emotional field.” As a coach, we name the emotions that we sense are present during a discussion or workshop.
I had a difficult time with this technique in the beginning because I had never paid attention to the emotional field before – or my own feelings. I just kind of kept going a step at a time, relying on logic alone.
Naming the emotional field is a powerful tool. During a discussion, it gets everyone to pause and check in with how they are feeling about what is going on.
The feeling part of a discussion is just as critical as the fact part. When we all start to ask why we feel a certain way, we generally open the vault on a bunch of new and relevant facts.
When first hearing about the Qowat Milat, one of the characters says, “Anyone else think the Way of Absolute Candor sounds potentially annoying?” I agree.
If we all ran around commenting on every feeling, the world could become an annoying place. I’m not sure I want to hear everyone’s emotions about the food they eat, the clothes someone is wearing, or my love of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters.
However, the world would be a less tentative and tension-filled place if we calmy shared how we feel in situations that are important and with people who matter.
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