Poor emotional management can destroy a person’s personal and professional life. A person in business who doesn’t possess a well-kept check on his or her emotions is seldom well-liked or respected. Being a professional requires maturity, dignity and integrity. We cannot respect those who cannot control themselves emotionally in life or in business.
If we have poor emotional management skills our egos and pride trump our intelligence and knowledge every time. How we manage ourselves emotionally is of even greater importance in the business world than our skill or talent.
1. Become an observer.
To manage our emotions well we must develop the ability to act as the observer of our own emotional experience without getting caught up in assigning any judgment to what we’re feeling. Hard to do? Yes. It’s hard to do because our minds want to judge the goodness or badness of our situation immediately in an effort to come up with strategies to help us through our situation. When we’re emotional; however, we are batting less than average on what the objective truth of our situation is. When we allow our judgments to define our experience without much thought or consideration, we end up reacting rather than responding; causing us to act out emotionally rather than rationally.
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We must learn to observe and understand the emotions we are experiencing, without the pressure to do anything with them or about them. We must discipline ourselves to sit with the discomfort and take an active curiosity in analyzing what we feel without any need to define it, deny it or change it. This helps us balance. There is no need to instantly reject situations or emotions just because they are unpleasant. Not everything that feels unpleasant is bad. If we can remain objective we can turn what feels uncomfortable into something productive.
2. Practice acceptance.
When we feel overwhelmed with emotion we become instantly adrenalized for survival, making it extremely challenging to experience our emotions as separate from our intense and automatic impulse to act. We may not be able to choose what we feel, but we can come to recognize when we are reacting and be proactive in doing something about it.
Take a step back. It is amazing what taking a moment can do to settle an unsettled mind. It helps us to be less judgmental of ourselves and our situation, stalling our reactive impulses to speak or act before thinking. When we can hold on to ourselves and sit with what feels uncomfortable it helps us to accept what is happening. Acceptance helps us tolerate chaotic emotions with a greater sense of composure, less fear and less resistance.
4. Impartial openness.
When we judge what we feel as right or wrong our emotions have ownership over us, giving us the feeling that we have zero agency over handling them. Whenever we react from a black and white sense of right or wrong we come off as self-righteous. We force our opinions onto others and the situation in a fixed and unfair way. Black and white thinking is incredibly limiting to other options which could generate solutions with a much more effective result.
When we can be active in our choice to be open and impartial amidst our challenge it helps us take in the bigger picture, including the ideas and emotions of others. This allows for situations to be approached in a more fluid and creative manner, rather than from selfishness and our own best interest. Being impartial garners a greater wealth of potential directions to be analyzed and used; rather than reacting from a fixed and fearful position the ego has decided is best.
5. Non-labeling awareness.
When we force ourselves to stay directed towards being an active participant in controlling our emotions we are less likely to get caught up in old ideas or memories which have no real relevance to what is currently happening. We don’t need to label anything that is happening right now as good or bad. We must train ourselves to look at what is going on through the lens of, “right now this situation is what it is.” What is bad right now is fluid, so be patient and stay in a place of not needing to label a situation too soon. There is great value in letting things unfold naturally.
As hard as it is not to have an agenda or to try and exert some sort of control over our situation, allow the discomfort to untangle itself. We must work to stay out of rigid patterns of thinking and behaving. In doing this we remain open to resolutions that will naturally surface. When we choose not to label, we see things from a higher level we never could have reached had we pigeon-holed, judged or reacted.
6. Stay present.
When we are emotionally activated we tend to swing widely into our past and to project failure or success onto the future, which takes us completely away from what is going on right now. Whatever is happening right now, let it marinate without reacting impulsively. We not only have to manage our more negative emotions, but we also have to manage our heightened positive emotions to make decisions based in reality, rather than on the fantasy of the future or the horrors of the past.
Stay connected to what is happening now. Hold onto yourself, write down or contemplate options of decision making, have discussions about what is happening with others, and then, when things are operating from an emotional balance move forward with a decision. In forcing ourselves to stay present, we stop ourselves from operating on “automatic pilot,” which keeps us locked into the mental dream of the past or the future. New, fresh and innovative ideas come from being able to slow down and think rationally about what is unique to our current situation.
7. Empathic awareness.
All of the emotional reactions we have in life or business are learned. Through experience we have learned which people have been hurtful or harmful and which people have been honorable, kind and respectful based upon how they treated us. Empathy means letting go of the drama of being stuck in our own self-centered viewpoint in an effort to make more sound decisions.
Being empathic involves taking a completely different observational stance to our own reality and our experience of it. It involves letting go of the drama of Self of me, my, mine, and I. When we come from selfishness we see everyone and everything as our opponent. Empathy allows us to see others as teammates. When we are self-centered we tend to make irrational and selfish decisions. With empathy we have a team of others to help us make rational and successful decisions.
Everything in life and business is fluid. Things may temporarily get stuck but it can’t stay in a stuck state forever. It is important, when emotional, to activate our minds in ways which involve our abilities to observe the natural changes occurring in the present moment. The less distracted we are by our internal experience the more calm, patient and curious we become to the natural changes which inevitably take place in any business. This allows us to work smarter rather than harder. When we panic we suffer and overcompensate. Everything is temporary, so this means we have time to slow things down and think things through before acting.