Stop Micromanaging Emotions – 3 Better Ways to Support Your Team Members [ft. MP Carrie Tan]

MP Carrie Tan, a healing and transformation coach, speaker and former politician, shared her unorthodox perspectives on the topic.

The Backstory

Carrie’s journey has been an unconventional one. She founded the NGO Doctors of Tomorrow before making a pivot into politics, quickly taking on massive responsibilities overseeing thousands of constituents.

She candidly described the immense stress that came with the sudden expansion of her responsibilities, managing a large number of constituents’ needs. “The scale of my responsibilities having expanded really quickly, like literally overnight, was actually extremely stressful,” she admitted.

“The sheer number of people that I had to look after and take care of…the scale of my responsibilities expanded really quickly, like literally overnight,” Tan explained. “That was the catalyst to me trying to find a way to work on myself.”

As an “empath” who easily connects with others’ emotions, she found herself struggling to avoid becoming desensitised as a coping mechanism. “I saw the very real risk and danger of being so overwhelmed by, you know, so many people’s problems coming at you, that it’s very easy to become desensitised as a way to just cope,” she explained.

Redefining Stress

From the onset,  Carrie objected to the framing of the topic around the word “stress.” She argued the term is misunderstood, as a certain level of “healthy stress” motivates growth.

“It’s only when stress becomes counterproductive and counter-functional that it becomes a problem,” she stated.

The Internal Battle

For Tan, 90% of stress stemmed from internal sources – expectations, beliefs, and conditioning around how things “should” be. Through self-work and inner exploration, she found tools to detach from stressful situations more objectively.

“When we do the work of healing and hearing from our own experiences and wounds, then actually there’s very little stress in my life,” she said.

Awareness and Authenticity

A key focus for Tan was the importance of self-awareness, which exists on a spectrum rather than binary states. The more self-aware we become, the better we can regulate emotions.

She challenged the notion that successful professionals must put on airs or pretend, advocating instead for authentic communication and peeling away personas.

“I realised that many people…just go about life with many different masks on to put up a certain front,” she said. “Peeling away those layers…helps people to connect more genuinely.”

Tips for Leaders:

1. Start with self – Develop high emotional self-awareness to understand and manage your own emotions first.
2. Cultivate empathy – Have the ability to relate to others’ experiences and create a safe space.
3. Embrace vulnerability – Today’s workforce values authenticity over an artificially stoic presence.
4. Don’t avoid struggles – When conflicts arise between team members, leaders must be able to facilitate understanding.
5. Separate self from situation – With practiced detachment, work stressors need not become personal stressors.

The enlightening conversation explored an unconventional but potentially valuable perspective – that keeping teams calm is an inside job that begins with self-work and emotional awareness from leadership. As the workforce evolves, Carrie’s ideas may resonate with a new generation seeking more authenticity.

By peeling back these layers of masks, Carrie aims to help individuals and teams connect more genuinely with one another, leading to more positive outcomes. Her approach is a departure from the traditional notion of “keeping calm under pressure,” instead focusing on fostering holistic well-being and authentic communication.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 82 on Spotify, YouTube, Apple podcast for a unique perspective to the challenges faced by leaders and their teams. Her insights offer a refreshing alternative to the common advice of “stress management,” empowering individuals and organisations to prioritise self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and genuine connection as keys to navigating high-pressure environments.

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