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In the fall semester 2021, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Professor Jason Mollica’s Strategic Communications class at American University. The FEEL model and FEEL First test online became a part of their semester-long project.
Featured Image; Photo
by Karsten Würth on Unsplash
It’s here! I’m launching the first ebook in a four-part series, all based on the data and analysis of the results from the FEEL First Test online.
Here’s the “Why” Behind the FEEL Test …
The FEEL First Test is part of an ongoing passion project and research experiment. When my stepdaughter, Noelle, who was a Millennial, passed away in September of 2018, I wanted to know what Millennials were thinking and feeling.
Many questions crossed my mind. Rather than guessing, I set off on a research journey gathering qualitative data from over 100 interviews with Millennials. At the time, I didn’t realize I would be analyzing and using the data to build a communications model, an online interactive test, and a roadmap to help professionals be present, self-aware and more tuned into and self-reflective of their interactions.
I wanted to know from Millennials, who were born between the years 1981 and 1996, the answers to these questions:
- How do you show up to your conversations?
- Are you sharing your authentic self?
- What do you value?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- How do you want the leaders / supervisors, managers and mentors in your life to communicate with you?
- What do you look for from a leader, supervisor, manager or mentor?
- What do you look for in a relationship?
- What does it take to build trust with people, whether you’re on social media, at your company or in any setting?
The 100+ Millennials I spoke with had more to say than I had ever expected or imagined. The one-on-one interviews scheduled for 15 to 20 minutes started to turn into 60 and 90-minute conversations.
I encouraged the flow of the discussions and the transparent sharing of stories and feelings. Some of what I heard enlightened me, and the process was eye-opening to say the least. At the same time, what was shared was jaw dropping and unsettling, which led me to ask another very important question.
Do you ever really know how someone feels?
The Millennials I interviewed told their stories with passion and from the heart. They stated exactly what they were thinking and feeling. It was then I realized, in order to tune in, and truly embrace the verbal and non-verbal cues shared daily, you have to be present and aware in each and every moment. Those interviews and those moments really opened my eyes.
When I stepped back to record the data from the conversations, I saw an interesting pattern develop. Four buckets quickly emerged based on the stories, the sentiment and the insights shared for the questions I initially asked. Clearly, and overwhelmingly, the Millennials wanted the people around them (with a focus on their leaders, supervisors, managers, etc.) to:
- Be more open and inclusive, which meant they had to face FEARS.
- Show kindness, be understanding and have EMPATHY.
- Live with truth and transparency and show good judgment, living with ETHICS daily.
- Have passion and show it by unleashing their LOVE for important causes and standing up for what they believed in.
For me, those four buckets, and understanding each one, has become a life purpose and an ongoing passion. They spelled a word that can make a difference in your personal and professional communication. The word is: FEEL.
If you apply FEEL or feelings, at the point of every interaction, and each communication you encounter, then you are more likely to deepen your conversations and move toward genuine relationships.
The word FEEL has changed my life and career journey, and it’s the lens through which I evaluate my communications. Applying a FEEL lens to your connections and communication helps to build trust, loyalty and advocacy with every interaction.
Having Emotional Intelligence (EI) means understanding your own feelings/ emotions and reactions. So, I ask you …
- Are you self-aware?
- Do you have self-discipline?
- Do you exercise self-management?
- Are you also self-reflective?
- Do you manage your own emotions, so you can tune into and handle/manage someone else’s?
Pondering the questions further, I realized there was no test to evaluate whether you FEEL first, before you engage in communication with the people around you.
Of course, evaluating your level of FEEL or how open, inclusive (and not fearful you are), empathetic, ethical and passionate toward a cause, is not just for Millennials. It’s for all generations and every human being.
As a result of my qualitative research study, which focused on Millennials, regardless of your gender, age, generation or profession, the FEEL First Test came to life with a goal to help you realize how you feel about yourself, the people around you.
After collecting over 9,100 answers from about 350 test participants between February 2020 and February 2021, I’ve created the 1st ebook you can download with findings from the FEEL First Test.
To get your complimentary copy of the ebook, How Different Generations Face Fears, you can fill out the brief form and download below.
Book Announcement: Answers For Ethical Marketers Published as a Guide to Good Business Communication
Who is the Ethical Marketer? Well, it’s you, whether you’re a marketing / PR professional, a business person, or anyone in the company who is communicating and sharing about the brand. That’s a wide range of professionals. There are opportunities and challenges when it comes to ethics and values permeating every level and position in an organization. Answers for Ethical Marketers breaks down the landscape. The book starts by probing the ‘essentials’ of what Ethical Marketers need to know.
Some of the chapters include:
- Applying ethics through media channels in PR, digital marketing, and social media programs.
- Delivering ethical communication through cause marketing.
- Taking ethics into media interviews.
- Learning the actions steps of leaders who are ethical role models.
- Identifying your ethical mentors.
Answers For Ethical Marketers Book Announcement
My public relations/communication students and I have been discussing soft skills, including emotional intelligence (EQ), for several years.
More recently, the topic has come up in the context of relationship-building, specifically the role that EQ can play in building trust to create authentic, meaningful connections between organizations and diverse audiences. In the spirit of experiential learning, I wanted to turn these conversations into hands-on development opportunities.
Around the same time, I was speaking with Deirdre about her FEEL approach to communication. After learning more about her research and how it relates to EQ, I piloted an optional assignment in an upper-level, strategic communication course.
There are three basic components to the assignment:
- Take the FEEL First test and obtain your score.
- Review the suggestions, identify one and put it into practice.
- Write a brief reflection paper regarding the experience.
Students had about two weeks to do the work. They weren’t required to share their scores but rather consider what they learned as a result of the experience.
A Student Perspective
One student who completed the assignment, David James, a current UMass Amherst senior and communication major, felt that it was a personal confidence booster, as well as a jumping off point to better understanding public relations. He mentioned the importance of empathy, particularly for those who serve as chief relationship agents, to be able to “FEEL others’ thoughts, opinions and emotions on both a macro and micro level.”
David, who is also taking business courses, shared that, “I might not have even appreciated that enough while learning it, but in hindsight now, it covers how we should always go about the PR process. Even in the most high-stress crisis comms situations, PR efforts would benefit from a step back, a deep breath and feeling out how each target public might perceive the organization’s message.”
Overall, this exercise provides an opportunity for continuous learning; one that’s designed to encourage taking a more human approach to communication to enhance interpersonal and organizational relationships.
Jennie Donohue is a Senior Lecturer & Director of PR Curriculum, UMASS Amherst.