Managing Emotions When You’re Under Stress

One element of emotional intelligence is self-regulation, which is your ability to control disruptive impulses and moods before you act. In effect, it’s the ability to think first before acting or reacting.

Outcomes from self-regulation range from spewing whatever you’re feeling in the moment (without regard to your effect on others) to remaining poised during emotionally charged situations.

Staying calm isn’t easy to do, especially if you’re in a high-stress job where emotions flare regularly. Some of my clients suffer as they try to manage this. On the surface, they keep their emotions in check, but not too far below the surface, their emotions wreak havoc.

They are “intellectually” managing emotions. You have a good game face, but the negativity translates to physical and mental toxicity. Some people get headaches or digestive distress. Others will project these negative emotions onto innocent bystanders. And others just pack them away and “blow up” at an unknown, unrelated time in the future.

The more you can regulate your emotions, the more effective leader you will be. Consider the follow tips.

– Pause and think first before reacting. You don’t need to respond to people the nanosecond they stop speaking.

– Practice active listening so that you fully hear what the other person is saying. Get clarity by asking questions.

– Walk away from highly charged situations by recommending that everyone take a break.

When you have a moment to yourself, conjure a calm image that you have experienced in the past. Practice recalling that image so that when you’re in a tense moment you can bring it to mind to diffuse negative emotions. (For the naysayers out there, this works, so please give it a try!)

It takes time to unlearn old behavior, but making these changes will serve you well not just in the workplace, but in personal situations as well.

Have a great week!

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