The organization I work for has engaged a human resources coach to help its admin and leaders understand how their own emotional responses affect their collaboration as a team. This is an ongoing year-long session that includes both private and small group coaching. The theme of this coaching session is emotional intelligence and I am all in.

Or at least I was until I got the results of the first assessment. Ha!

The assessment included a series of videos—short vignettes concerning work related conflict. The actor spoke directly to you, and you were supposed to, as much as possible, put yourself in that situation. Then you answered a variety of questions. The assessment and consequent coaching session were eye opening to say the least.

There are several things that I do exceptionally well… for instance, I have a high ability to discern the feelings and intentions of others during conflict which means that I am very much in the moment. This makes me happy because I have been consciously trying to improve my listening skills. (After thirty years of living with a world class talker, I have a tendency to interrupt. It’s the only way I can get a word in edgewise!) I’m also very adept at moving from one collaboration style to another, which means I know when to collaborate, when to back off and work on my own, when to allow others to lead and when to lead myself.

What really threw me was I have difficulty accessing certain feelings which impacts my empathy score. Wait, what? I work in human services because I feel for others, right? Yes. But my ability to access the feelings of joy and love are alarmingly low, while my ability to access shame and anxiety are through the roof. This imbalance impacts a person’s ability to empathize. To tell the truth, I was really kind of pissed off about this assessment because I’m used to acing tests, dammit.

The coaches talked me through what I was feeling and helped me to understand the scores. Shame, they said, is a gift from our earliest caregivers. Through the years, my desire to avoid shame has morphed into a perfectionism that I didn’t used to have. Perfectionism causes anxiety which can manifest itself into a variety of ways. Both shame and anxiety sap your energy making it difficult to access other feelings.

Well, that’s just a perfect storm of suckery, isn’t it?

Do things that bring you joy, they said. Which comes at the perfect time, as my husband and I have been trying to discern our core desired feelings which will then informs the rest of our lives.

So I did this… Because joy.

Bet you didn’t know this post was going to turn out this way, did you? Meet Wyatt Earp, the newest member of the Brown household. Wyatt is a mini dachshund born on a huge cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon, hence the name. Plus, you know, he’s our huckleberry. We pick him up on December 29th, just before we usher in a new year.

And that assessment? The coaches told me that outside stress can impact the scores. Ladies, and gentlemen, I give you 2020.

But this little one is going to make 2021 a more joyous year!