An Article by Natalie Boudou
Emotions are your superpower - learn how to embrace them
We’ve all been there: fuming at the driver who cut us up, panic-stricken at the thought of making a presentation, frustrated when we are not listened to in a meeting or even upset when someone crosses
one of our boundaries at work. Our emotions come up in every situation.
We can’t always control that situation, but we can control how we respond to it. The secret to living a happy and successful life is to manage our emotions before they control us and to have the choice to respond appropriately when necessary.
Our emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant have a message for us and when listened to and understood can inform our choices and the decisions we make every day. They help us attach meaning to data, they help us understand ourselves and the help us identify opportunities and solutions. They motivate us to act and also are part of our growth. They also have an impact on the people around us. If for example, we are constantly angry, resentful, or disengaged it sets off a ripple effect that can bring down the whole team. By working with our emotions, we not only feel and perform better but we also lay the foundations for better relationships.
Learning to work with your emotions takes practice and it all starts with a willingness to welcome the full range of your emotions, pleasant and unpleasant and accepting them as they arise. This doesn’t mean tolerating, enduring, or giving in to them. It means making room for them when they show up in the moment. It’s about feeling the emotions and being open to the message that they bring. All of this allows us to move forward and choose the path we should pursue.
Becoming an Emotional Detective
In my masterclass on working with your emotions my participants explore how in a challenging, and changing work environment, their emotions can be their most valuable assets. They learn how to listen to their emotions, work directly with them and access their incredible intelligence. Working with emotions requires a sequential multistage approach which begins with self- awareness, moves onto understanding and then onto deciding whether or not to do something about the emotion. When you are skilled at this emotional work you can choose when to “dial up” or when to “dial down” the emotion according to the needs of that situation. This is the process of getting to know our emotions and how we relate to others. Some call this becoming an emotional scientist but I prefer to call this becoming an emotional detective.
The first step, self- awareness, depends on our ability to recognize our emotions and examine them objectively. Many of us are leading very busy lives, with little down time to be able to pause and pay attention to what is happening to us. The danger with this always- on culture is that emotions are in the driving seat. They are managing us rather than the other way around. This can lead us to act impulsively and not necessarily in our best interests. Think of a time when someone at work has shouted at you or criticized you and how you reacted. You may have shouted back, withdrawn, or even walked away. None of these reactions may have been appropriate.
• Paying Attention: learning how to pause and observe your emotions and becoming aware of your triggers
• Monitoring your emotions and your energy on a daily basis
• Feeling the emotions and becoming familiar with how they impact you physically
• Labelling and identifying your emotions
• Looking at how you express the emotions
• Understanding the message behind your emotions
• Regulating your emotions both in then moment and, also for long term health and wellbeing
How you show up at work
The other part of the puzzle is to consider how you show up with your emotions and impact those around you. Are you a leader who is comfortable sharing emotions and if so, are you aware of how your emotions impact your colleagues on a regular basis? Our emotions can leak out and affect those around us. Employees are likely to reciprocate or be affected by the emotional reaction given by managers. If managers are angry, their teams will likely feel anger, even if it’s not directed at them. If they are sad, their teams may feel down and unmotivated. Just as difficult emotions are contagious, so are the pleasant motions.
Being able to work with your emotions increases your well-being and reduces your stress levels. Unpleasant emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness when ignored or suppressed can lead to a range of health and mental issues including psychosomatic illness, compensatory behaviors, (smoking, drinking, over-eating) and even a sense of disconnection from life or work.
Management of emotions is one of the most crucial skills managers need to lead and manage their teams effectively. Emotional management serves as a tool for managing conflict and emotional breakdowns or outbursts at the workplace. It is an ability to develop self-control, to regulate, and gain greater self-awareness which is the foundation for great leadership.
Please reach out to Natalie Boudou if you would like to learn more about Emotional Intelligence