If you have only just joined us in this series on Emotional Intelligence, you may want to start with reading the previous posts, starting with Part 1 https://www.shapingchange.com.au/blog/?p=73.
We have previously discussed the skills of RECOGNISING, USING and UNDERSTANDING emotions. Now let’s look at MANAGING emotions – the ability to effectively and constructively manage your emotions and the emotions of others, to incorporate emotions into thinking.
Chloe is highly effective at managing emotions – she connects with people and can energise or soothe, inspiring people to achieve. Brian is not effective at emotional management – he is a bully, who enjoys humiliating people.
Chloe has been working on a solution to a process issue that impacts across Divisions. Brian is a key stakeholder and Chloe has spent many hours working with him until he is finally satisfied with the proposed solution. Chloe is updating the CEO on the project status when Brian undermines her with a blatant lie, stating that he has not yet signed off on Chloe’s solution. Sitting back with a satisfied smile on his face, he is clearly expecting Chloe to be stunned into silence, or to react angrily. Either way, he is expecting to provoke a reaction that will paint Chloe in a poor light in front of the CEO. Of course Chloe is angry that Brian has lied. What is more infuriating is that she knows he has purposefully chosen the moment to do so to cause the most damage to her. However, Chloe calmly calls his bluff. Starting with “Brian, I understand you may have concerns”, she lists the benefits of her solution and asks Brian to clarify what his remaining objections are. Brian is unable to come up with any objections and agrees to sign off.
Chloe was not happy that she was attacked, but she channelled her anger into calm action rather than allowing it to derail her.
The ability to manage emotions doesn’t mean putting emotions on hold, ignoring them or never acting emotionally. What it does mean is that you integrate emotions into your decision making and behaviour in a way that is constructive and enhancing. People who are good at this are able to think clearly when experiencing strong emotions. Their emotions are inputs to decisions and behaviours, not drivers. They value emotions without over valuing them.
Managing emotions effectively is the ability to bring about effective outcomes in self and in others. One of the keys is developing a meta view of emotions – viewing them as an observer. Some principles:
- Emotions are time linked (they pass)
- Emotions are important, but transient (you don’t need to buy into them)
- Emotions are useful (what are they telling me?)
- Emotions can guide decisions (what is the best way to act as a result of my emotion?)
- Emotions are how we feel, they do not define us (you don’t have to fuse with your emotion)
Some tips on managing emotions:
Rather than saying “I am angry” (fusing with the emotion), tone down the intensity by saying instead “I am noticing that I am getting angry”.
Try some short term strategies – the most effective are exercise and social support. Social support can be practical (driving the kids to school for me) or emotional (a friendly ear).
Drinking, eating, oversleeping or procrastinating can make you feel temporarily better but are not helpful.
Journaling about emotions is highly beneficial. Use casual words like “led me to” and insight words like “understand”.
Long term emotional management takes three things:
- Be open to emotion – even when it is uncomfortable
- Develop the meta view
- Develop an active management strategy (physical or decision – not just dwelling on it) directed at the actual issue and that is workable. What do I do with this feeling? What do I want to happen?
I am interested in hearing about other emotional management strategies – how do they work for you?
We can measure your Emotional Intelligence using the MSCEIT (Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test). If you are interested in taking the test please contact Ros at firstname.lastname@example.org