Red Zone, Blue Zone Part 3
Red Zone Themes
The Red Zone tends to elicit one of four themes: Survival, Acceptance, Competence, or Control. As the Red Zone core theme is activated, the feelings associated with that issue are also activated. The person then sinks down deeper into a morass of feelings, many of which come from stories long ago completely unrelated to the current story that has provoked the Red Zone response.
Survival. “I must take care of myself. The world is full of peril, so I must enjoy the moment.” These people often grew up in very dysfunctional homes where their caregivers (usually parents) were inconsistent, unavailable, or abusive. Because of this, these people at an early age were thrown onto their own resources rather than those of others. These people have traits of competence, self-reliance, and responsibility. These people lack the ability to trust others (their initial caregivers were untrustworthy) and tend to be wary and troubled in relationships. They may have little interest in anything but what is of practical benefit. They become angry and panicky (Red Zone) whenever they feel their survival has been threatened.
Acceptance. “I will do anything to be loved and accepted by others. I am a people-pleaser.” These people have a heart for serving others and are very attentive to the needs and feelings of other people. These people can be overly compliant and self-effacing. They tend to be rescuers. They become angry and carry personal grudges (Red Zone) whenever they feel they have been rejected. But they can also read people and situations very well.
Control. “The world is a threatening place, and the only way I can feel safe is if I can control every situation and the people around me.” These people tend to have strong leadership qualities. They are vigilant, highly organized, and have high expectations of themselves. These people often wall themselves off emotionally. They do not let others get too close to them. They can be overly controlling toward others—bossy, directive, demanding, rigid, and nit-picking. They impose perfectionist demands on others. They become anxious and angry (Red Zone) whenever anyone or anything threatens their control. Often, though they make good leaders, they can make poor followers.
Competence. “I am loved only on the basis of my performance. My performance is never good enough, so I never feel worthy of being loved.” These people tend to be high achievers. If you are a leader, you want these people on your team, because they will work hard to achieve a great performance. They are never satisfied with their achievements. They have a hard time receiving from other people. They impose perfectionist demands on themselves. They are defensive and easily angered (Red Zone) whenever they perceive that their competence has been questioned.
As the Red Zone core theme is activated, the feelings associated with that issue are also activated. The person then sinks down deeper into a morass of feelings, many of which come from stories long ago completely unrelated to the current story that has provoked the Red Zone response. These feelings then become more prominent than the ability to clearly think. As a result, the person carries on the conflict immersed in her own story and the feelings associated with it. This obviously colors her actions and reactions. And the ability to clearly understand the issues involved in the conflict are compromised.
Write down your core Red Zone issue as you understand it, and how it affects you personally. Note that everyone can experience all four themes. But one theme usually stands out as the dominate or signature theme, the other three subordinating to that theme.
Your Core Issue Your thoughts and behaviors that flow from this issue, and The result of these thoughts and behaviors.
My core issue is acceptance. I’m always trying to be the nice guy so I’m loved. I can never hold people accountable, fearing they won’t like me any more.
If you are doing the exercises in a group, share with the group your own Red Zone issue.
Now think of the ways you handled the conflict. It may be stylized (one size fits all). E.g. “I always back down and acquiesce.” “I usually go on the attack.”
Are we willing to consider a new way of handling conflict? Discuss how the team can be helpful to each other in this regard.
Do the roles and expectations of team members clearly support the unfolding mission of the organization in a concerted way?
Are performance evaluations clearly tied to roles and expectations in concrete, behavioral ways?