Is there someone in your life who commands energy? Who easily lightens or intensifies the atmosphere in a space, in a positive or negative way? Whether these people bring sunshine or brooding storm, there’s no missing the shift that happens when they arrive on the scene. You can practically feel the air crackle.
Recognizing and focusing the shifting, dancing energy between and around ourselves and others is at the heart of emotional, social and relationship systems intelligence. It forms the basis of the work that we do in Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC).
Some people are particularly adept at transmitting a mood to others. However, underlying energies and emotions affect every situation we find ourselves in.
When you stop to observe, what is the energy you feel in your place of work, or around your family dinner table? How does the mood of one person affect the group, and vice versa?
“Team members tend to only communicate verbally, but there’s a whole layer of communication – body language and energy level and intention – that we often don’t pay attention to, but it’s there. It’s more important than the words are.”
• Nicole Schaefer, equine-assisted coach
Once you begin to see the interplay of mood and energy that exists in any interaction, this dynamic becomes impossible to ignore.
Learning how to consciously shift and amplify the mood or climate of a team is an acquired skill, and one that is useful in a variety of situations. To begin working with it, we must acknowledge the physiological sensations and emotions within ourselves and tap into the mood in the space between us. Only then can we intentionally bring the energy that is required to create a mood and influence a collective climate.
Think about how this acknowledgement is built into our social interactions – the first question we ask when meeting an acquaintance is “How are you?”
Those who perform for a living – actors, dancers, musicians, even public speakers – are experts at extending emotion to others and involving them in it. Audience members pick up on and mirror that energy. It’s the reason why a well-crafted speech can unite us in intention, or a song can bring us to tears. Without that element a performance falls flat, failing to inspire.
“To truly connect with a group, you must hook their emotions. If you want to engage an audience – whether you’re speaking, acting or performing – first identify the energy you bring in with you. Being aware of that energy allows you to adjust and extend it to others.”
• Jillian Millar Drysdale, professional communicator and acting coach
Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, effective leaders have a similar ability to channel the energy of a group. Developing collaborative, innovative human systems relies on establishing relationship, and that in turn depends on recognizing the energies and emotions within your team.
Learning to focus and evolve the energy of a group, so that all members are collaborating toward a common goal, is more challenging than simply transmitting your own energy outward.
You can begin by observing the energy you habitually carry with you. How would you describe it? What effect does it have on others?
Notice the energy around you. How does it make you feel? Is it enveloping, crushing, spiky or electric? How does your own energy shift in response?
Before you enter a situation, take a moment to reflect on the atmosphere that the human system you about to encounter might need to do the task at hand.
- What will be most useful?
- What attitude, stance or philosophy will support the work?
- What type of energy do you intentionally want to put forward?
“One plus one can equal infinity. When we learn together and tap into the energy of the third entity, when we fuse our energy together as a team or system, our possibilities become limitless for cultivating creativity.”
• Sherry Matheson, team and leadership development coach
As you enter the space, notice what is present and what is needed – and bring it! Consciously choose the energy you put out.
- How does adjusting your tone, pace, stance and volume change the environment?
- How might creating a certain form of energy help you accomplish your goals in a given situation?
- When you are functioning together at your best, what energy and emotions are present in the room?
- How do others respond when you consciously identify the emotion or mood you feel coming from them?
- What supports in your life – rest, food, meditation, time with a particular person – help you to recharge and channel your energy more effectively?
“The magic happens when partnerships and teams realize that they can be more than the sum of their parts. When they begin to trust that by tapping into and amplifying the power of their third entity, they can create an energetic shift that makes the work flow.”
• Kerry Woodcock, collective and change leadership coach
CRR Global’s ORSC training contains a toolbox of relationship systems intelligence strategies to help co-create a climate of change. One such skill is to have teams consistently check in with the emotional field in their relationship system. Another is to intentionally step into particular stances that collectively support the work moment to moment.
Whether your aim is to inspire and encourage, to lead effectively or ignite action, having the ability to skillfully shift the energies around you is the first step in creating connection and responsiveness within any system or organization.
WRITTEN BY: Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., who develops change leadership capability in organizations and social system through Novalda and as CRR Global’s Canadian partner, and Jillian Millar Drysdale, a communications consultant and acting coach in Calgary, Alberta.