Head 'n' Heart Ops -
A guide to emotions without system crashes

Welcome to the Head 'n' Heart Ops - A User's Guide to emotions without system crashes knowledge base.

Here you will find inspiration, tangible tools & practises that I usually deliver in various format (like keynotes, talks or workshops), recently more and more in public.

Use my contents for your own professional development. You can also dig deeper with the linked resources and dive further into how to have head (or: mind) and heart more integrated at work and beyond.

Get in touch with me if:

  • you have feedback on the contents,

  • want to share your experiences with the tools & practises (I always love to hear those!)

  • miss something you saw in a public session

  • or would like to work with me.

(last update: 11/2022 after KanDDDinsky in Berlin)

Setting the scene and context

Emotions can be seen as “just” data

  • they come and go (=volatile)

  • they just exist → they "just" are

That means:

  • NO right or wrong → all valid (as it is YOUR data)

  • vary for every human being

  • vary with context

Leverage the full power of emotions!

To leverage the full power of emotions at work, we need capabilities to:

  1. access that emotional “data”

  2. interpret that “data”

  3. create “infrastructure” for letting them flow

Hindering conditions & crash-able situations

Beware, there are certain conditions where:

  • we lack access to our human “data”

  • others may not appreciate (our) emotions

  • society formed rules to restrict our emotions

Situations with crash-potential at work are e.g.:

  • open and hidden conflicts

  • blaming

  • the "we are professionals"-syndrome

  • bottling-up emotions

  • disengagement

  • acting (unconsciously) because of F.E.A.R.

This list is far beyond complete, yet this is what if often out there in organisations

Structure of the Head 'n' Heart Ops "Tools"

Grow your emotional vocabulary

Sharpening our vocabulary (i.e. having proper words for emotions/feelings and needs) helps us to address a lack of access to our (emotional) “data”.

Of course, other factors come into play, too, which prevent our access to emotions e.g.: (dis)stress, being in a hurry or being too busy all the time (the still often "glorified" busyness). But THE ONE thing that is simple and works for most of us is: growing our emotional vocabulary.

How to get started?

  1. get a list of emotions

    • …put it to a place you see daily

    • in your journal / office / desktop / kitchen / bathroom / a mirror / use an app

  2. pick ONE emotion a day

    • … and deliberately pay attention to it

    • do you notice it? when? & how?

  3. deliberately practise with colleagues you trust…

    • ( → we need to “un-sanitize our language” / B. Brown)

Free Resources to work on feelings & needs

Feelings & Needs Overview

Mood Meter

Additional inspiration, exercises & resources from Change Companion:

"Measure" what you feel

Sharpening your emotional vocabulary - having the words at hand - is one good and essential step.

Knowing more about YOUR internal human "data" (i.e. the emotions) is essential, too.

How to get started?

Free Resources to "measure" emotions

Cut out Distractions

Now that we have basic access to our emotional "data” and basic support for interpreting that “data”, it is time to start building kind of an infrastructure for letting that human data flow. Cutting out distractions and focus on what really matters to you at work and in life is essential here.

How to get started?

Free Resources on focus at work

All about Journaling in business:

Starter & Resources for Value work:

Open up to yourself & others

Creating an infrastructure for letting that emotional data flow also means a deliberate exchange of some of that human data between people from time to time.

One caveat: opening-up DOES NOT mean to tell “EVERYbody everyTHING all the time” (→ see Brene Brown's Dare to lead book for more on this). Being open, being vulnerable is not a zero-or-one, black-and-white "thingy". Openness always inevitably goes hand in hand with vulnerability.

As you might have noticed, our Head&Heart-Ops tools are getting more and more “intangible”. This is by design. They’re also getting more powerful!

How to get started?

Free Resources

Pick up on others’ emotional states

Creating an infrastructure for letting our emotions, our human "data” flow also means to pick up actively on other’s emotional states from time to time.

As I mentioned a couple of times: the more powerful things get, the more intangible they appear to be.

For this section there are only intangible groundwork practises where our bridge-building work between humans can stand firmly on.

The hardest yet most important and truly underestimated "tool" is listening.

Listening to each other…

  • NOT to answer

  • NOT to advise

Listening “just” for the sake of being with the other human.

That can feel incredibly hard, especially in a work setting:

  • where we are paid to “have answers”,

  • where we are paid to give advise

  • and where we are at least paid to appear smart.

We can do sh*tloads of action without proper human connection (and sadly that still happens a lot). Yet truly effective action at work stands on a firm groundwork of professional human connection.

Caveat: YOU as the listening person also need to be in “connection mode” to be able to truly listen like that. This may not always be the case. That is OK! The only thing important here is (again :-)): be aware of it!

For this, go back to the tools in the beginning on our capabilities to access and to interpret our emotional data. Ask yourself: In which state am I? If you are NOT in a state to listen to another colleague right now, you are allowed (even: obliged!) to say something like “sorry, I don’t have the capacity right now!” or “I have work to do. Can we have a walk and talk at (suggest a new date)?”

Remember: True Listening is always about BOTH PARTIES.

The Just-like-me practise

The just-like-me meditation practise takes about 2-3 mins. So it is really short. It can be practised everywhere (even in the bathroom). It builds true connection between humans WITHOUT having another person present.

To try it out, I invite you to:

  • pause a moment, especially when you feel like you’re NOT open to another human being

  • take one conscious breath

  • deliberately think of that other person you maybe had a rough time with, a potential crash-able situation, etc.

  • imagine the other person is JUST LIKE YOU
    (e.g. a parent / runner / coffee lover - or: at least a human being that has to breathe and feels fear and love)

  • and then move on with whatever you intended to do...

Let the changes in the system of human beings (including your own system) unfold!

Essential Reading

No Hard Feelings - by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy


Dare to Lead - by Brené Brown


Hardwiring Happiness - by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.


Further Reading

The Listening Space - by Tamsin Hartley


The Coaching Habit - by Michael Bungay Stanier


Found something valuable for you? Want to book me?
Let's get in touch.

cosima AT respectAndAdapt.rocks