5 Whys is a blog about technical leadership in the software world.

Check-in: sharing emotions in an effective way

In this blogpost I will cover “The Check-In Protocol” portion of The Core Protocols which are available for download at http://alturl.com/b9fn

One of the most effective and, consequently, one of the most controversial protocols is Check-In.

In presentations, when I ask the audience, “Who has worked with a colleague that hides emotions?” almost everyone raises his or her hand. When I then ask if this has hindered productivity at work, almost all the hands stay up.

Yet a lot of people are still convinced that showing their emotions at work is not “professional.”

I find that the Check-In Protocol offers a powerful way to show emotions in a mature way, both at work and in my personal life.
In a Check-In, we state how we feel using 4 basic emotions: mad, glad, sad, and afraid.

Let me give you an example:

I’m checking in

I’m GLAD that Roy has asked me to write these guest posts.
I’m AFRAID to do so.
I’m GLAD I can ask for help
I’m AFRAID that the power of the protocols can only be understood by using them
I’m AFRAID, SAD that people will turn away without trying them
I’m GLAD to know that some will probably accept my invitation to try them
I’m IN.

This is an example where I used the protocol to the letter. When I use the protocols with people not familiar to The Core, I might say:

Hello, welcome to this training, I’m Yves Hanoulle
I’m glad to see so many people.
I’m afraid that this puts pressure on me to make it great.
That is ok, because I have done this a lot of times.
I’m mad because my replacement phone does not work here in Canada
I’m sad because delivering this workshop means I will miss my kids for 5 days. If you think that this won’t work
- in your company,
- in your country,
- with your spouse, etc.

Then you are not alone.

I had a similar reaction about using the protocol with my oldest son. I was having a chat with Michele (McCarthy). She asked me to try Check-In with him. I told her that he was three and a half years old and that I thought that was too young. We finished the conversation with my promise I would try it. (I was still convinced it would not work).  The next day Joppe came home with a card from school with these 4 emotions on it. I realized I was the reason it wasn’t working. He already knew about the four emotions. I’ve been using it with him ever since.

Using Check-In with Joppe has taught me a lot. One night he said, “I’m MAD, SAD that the babysitter will be here. And you guys are going out.” At that time my partner and I went out to dinner every Thursday.  It was a Thursday, but that day we weren’t going to go, and we hadn’t told him. Typically, we only told him when we were going out on the day itself. He had already made the connection, though, Thursday è babysitter. I realized that evening that Joppe might only be 4 years old, but he was much more clever than I was giving him credit for.

Now for a work story:

One morning I had an argument with my partner before leaving for work. The discussion was stuck in my head as I drove. On top of that, a crazy truck driver almost drove me off the road. When I arrived at work, I realized I was not my rational self because of these two events. So when I came in, I told my colleagues, “Sorry if I overreact a little today, I had a discussion at home before leaving; I’m still puzzled about some of the things we said to each other.  I’m also mad about a crazy truck driver that drove me off the road.” Right then my colleague gave me 10 minutes of slack time. Also, because I had checked in, I immediately forgot about what had happened. I didn’t remember until I got back in my car that evening. Without checking in, I would have been stuck on those thoughts and feelings all day, and my productivity would have been a fraction of what it was.

So I propose you try the Check-In Protocol at work and at home, and see how much more bandwidth you can create in your communication lines.

As a bonus, once you are skilled at using it, it keeps working over e-mail, chat etc.

I  am Yves Hanoulle, your virtual Project coach and you can reach me at blog at my training company .net or follow me on Twitter



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