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Inside Out, Reversible Octopi, Rosenberg’s Five Chairs, And Communication At Work


Did you know that Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out revolutionised the ways of communicating complex emotions with children in and out of therapy? Of course, it is easier said than done to communicate your feelings, especially if you are in a situation where a child does not speak the same language as you, or, may be non-verbal. By presenting children with distinct, colourful characters that they could identify with, you could access a greater insight into how a child feels in that moment. Similarly, in teaching, using mood charts, and characters from the film, staff could acquire a glimpse into each student’s mind.


By encouraging children from their early years to be aware of their emotions, they can grow up to understand how the emotions impact their decision making, just like how the emotions


A recent trend on social media, primarily from the platform TikTok, where someone was struggling to articulate their feelings to their significant other, used an octopus, which was reversible, to provide their partner with insight about how they were feeling: the pink side of the octopus depicted a smiling face, while the dark blue side depicted an octopus with a frowning face, and furrowed brow. The reversible octopus subsequently became a trend, and a humorous way for many people in relationships to provide their boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, partners etc. with a gift that improved non-verbal communication about how they were feeling. Videos circulated of young people who struggled with mood disorders, using the octopus to explain to those in their company that they were either in the mood to be social, or not, without having to exit their comfort zone to do so. However, there were also funny videos about friends attempting to amuse their friends, out of the angry blue octopus and into the pink octopus.


It is easy to experience your day from the wrong perspective, something minor, or major, can shift your point of view drastically, and potentially hold you hostage. In Louise Evans’ TED Talk: Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Successes, she explained how her talk was inspired by a nine-day course she had taken, on non-violent communication head by the late founder, Marshall Rosenberg.


Evans’ said that the workplace is where we produce some of our most questionable behaviours, and the most toxic, because we react to numerous stimuli around us. If someone comes into work in a bad mood, their mood can spread via osmosis through various reactions from colleagues in the same space. Anger, frustration and self-doubt can manifest in response to a colleague’s behaviour and act like a virus in the office, infecting everyone with the same negative energy that brings morale down.


She introduced the audience to five chairs, a red one, a yellow one, a green one a blue one and a purple one.


The red chair was a chair of attack, a chair of anger, and judgement.


The yellow was affiliated with the hedgehog and doubt, another chair of judgement, but toward ourselves, where our fears can amount.


The green chair was attributed to meerkats, and associated with the idea of waiting: W-A-I-T: What Am I Thinking?


The blue chair was called the detect chair, and associated with the dolphin, where we come into our own, own our power, and be assertive – but not aggressive.


The final chair, the violet chair, is the giraffe chair, associated with connection, where we listen and care for others, acting with empathy.


She explained that as people, “we are making choices about the behaviours that we bring into the world, and the choices that we make have a direct impact on the conversations that we have, the relationships that we form and the quality of our lives in general.”


She provided an example of when she went out to see a live jazz show in Milan with her partner’s daughter from a previous relationship, in an attempt to bond with her, and how, she could have potentially ruined the moment, by reacting with anger about this twenty-year-old girl being on her phone during a show at a jazz club.


But that is a microcosm for how impactful it can be at work. If Cheryl was running late to work because her car wouldn’t start, so she didn’t get to go via Starbucks after the school run, she probably wouldn’t be the happiest. Say Fiona greets Cheryl and she doesn’t get a hello back. Sounds like a minor inconvenience, but that may upset her. And if it does, her sunny disposition may dissipate with every other shrugged off “morning” she gets from Albert, Leslie and Judith, wears away at her. So, when Robert comes in late, and asks for the papers for his meeting in five minutes, that he didn’t tell her got pushed forward, irate would be an understatement. If she is snippy with Robert, he won’t be feeling the best in anticipation of his meeting. So on and so forth.


That is the red chair.


Alternatively, if Cheryl ignored Fiona, and Fiona got insecure, wondering why and what she had done wrong to upset her colleague, this would shift the mood into a darker, sombre, and insecure tone. If she is sad, she may not even say hello to Albert, Leslie and Judith. And then they’re wondering what they’ve done wrong to upset Fiona.


That is the yellow chair.


However, if Fiona noticed that the haggard Cheryl was later than usual, sans her Starbucks cup, her, skittering away without a morning natter, wouldn’t necessarily upset her. Her intuition and analysis of the circumstances would have made her more patient, and although she might have been sad that Fiona hadn’t had time to chat, she probably wouldn’t have been as bothered by it, or taken her frustrations out on Albert, Leslie or Judith, and could have a clear head to tackle the first of many genuine stressors of an office environment, the reshuffle of meetings, and Robert’s scatterbrained nature.


This is the purple chair.


This awareness of how you feel and how it may influence your reactions allows for a greater and more perceptive experience in the workplace, whether you are in a role of leadership, or otherwise. We are living in a new era; where the implications laid out by covid have influenced the way that we work, the way that we communicate, and the way we experience our emotions. Things felt heavy, anxieties and despairs ran high during the heights of the pandemic, and the zoom-call-nature of the working world, home offices, and an extra glimpse into employee lives will impact the way we engage with one another. Hopefully with more empathy, and understanding, and a greater morale and sense of togetherness. After all, if the company managed to stay afloat amidst the pandemic, the teams within, can achieve almost anything!


Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.


He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.


The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.


To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com

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