Having to deal with strong emotions? Just FAVE them
We have all been confronted with strong emotions from a fellow student, supervisor, friend or foe. A friend shares an experience and we, coming from a good place, jump in with an array of solutions. Often followed by an unexpected reaction from our counterpart. This type of situation does not benefit either party, creates animosity and leaves one feeling empty.
I read a blog post recently that described the importance of not jumping into solution mode immediately when confronted with strong emotions from another. An easy way to remember this is through the acronym “FAVE” which stands for “First Acknowledge, Validate and Empathise”.
Why is it important to FAVE?
There is great value in having this tool in our toolbox as postgraduate students, researchers and academics. When we FAVE, we increase our connection with others. Not only is this good for the other person, but it is also good for our own wellbeing. Strong emotions such as conflict or sadness consume a lot of mind space, leading to reduced happiness, and lost time and productivity that should go into producing knowledge (aka your research project).
Let’s have a look at how to FAVE, here are two examples:
How to FAVE: Example #1
- Supervisor expresses dissatisfaction: “You have not implemented the suggestions I made previously, and now you want me to review the same draft again at such short notice, with the deadline approaching fast.”
- You FAVE: “I can imagine that you feel frustrated by my actions” or “You have the right to feel like this” or “Life is busy and to request input at short notice is not reasonable”.
- You suggest a way forward: “Let me review your previous comments again and check where I missed any suggestions. I’ll also check the deadlines and develop a proposed timeline for submission of future drafts.”
A special note related to the scenario above: the person raising the dissatisfaction is not necessarily right. So, feel free to object after you FAVE’d.
How to FAVE: Example #2
- Fellow student expresses sadness: “I’m so worried about my project. I need to submit my literature review tomorrow, and it goes much slower than anticipated.”
- You FAVE: “I can just imagine how much stress this is causing” or “Anyone else in this position will feel like this” or “Things always seem to take longer than planned”.
You suggest a way forward: “Let me review your previous comments again and check where I missed any suggestions. I’ll also check the deadlines and develop a proposed timeline for submission of future drafts” or “It seems like you reviewed the wrong version, the latest version is saved with yesterday’s date.”
In the scenario above, it may be enough to just be with that person. There may be nothing you can do to assist other than being a soundboard so that they can figure out their own solutions while speaking to you. It is not to say you are not allowed to ever make suggestions but do leave those suggestions for later, FAVE first.
If you prefer to watch the video, here you go:
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