The emotional self at work

Emotions are a part of everyday life, something we handle at every single moment of every day. Having control over our emotions helps us present the best version of ourselves. Without emotional self-control we are not 100% of our best self. At work, losing control over ourselves and producing adverse reactions like shouting or feeling sorry for yourself would be detrimental to our productivity and reputation. Emotional self-control is especially important for leaders and managers because people within the organization look up to them provide stability. As they say the head should rule the heart in business decisions.

To be a good leader and manager you must self-analyses yourself and your style of management and how you react to stressful situations and improve those skills if needed. You must think about how to best work through the different stressful situations we face at work and how to utilize and control our emotions to do so.

“I carry sun – moon balanced on either end of day to day living”

The first thing to do is to try to control your thoughts and how and when you express those thoughts. When in a meeting or a discussion with coworkers, restrain from expressing your deep personal opinions. Reserve those only for private conversations outside office hours or better never. Your goal in those situations should always be to help guide the company to meeting its objectives. So always think about whether what you are saying is conducive to helping the company. This idea applies in many contexts, for example when giving criticism – being too harsh or even too sympathetic does not solve organizational problems. Write down and think about your thoughts and opinions before speaking, so that you can remove bias and an emotional tone from the message and express yourself neutrally.

In addition to the things we say, our emotions also affect our ability to think. Namely, they can greatly affect our decision-making capacity. Managers are hired and add value from their ability to make decisions – the right decisions. The easiest way to make a right decision is to have a calm, cool, and composed mind. However, if we find ourselves in a worked up and agitated state, we becoming impulsive. You should try to curb any Impulsiveness at work. Impulsiveness leads to quick, frantic decision making coming at the cost of thinking things through. While impulsiveness is an asset when you are buying a gift for your girlfriend, it can be costly in business especially when it comes from being under pressure to deliver quickly. Meditation is a way to channel and map out your thoughts and emotions and come to terms with them. This is a useful practice before heading into any situation where having a cool head is imperative or starting your day with.

We can also get emotionally attached to our work and business, to our detriment. For example, we can become extremely particular to a certain project, a certain deal, a certain client that we don’t think completely rationally when that element is involved. This attachment can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture and hinder your capabilities as a member of the firm when working on related projects. While it’s okay to have strong opinions on certain things, actively practice the skill of disengaging from your world and seeing things from someone else’s point of view and seeing the bigger picture makes distinguishes a successful leader. This has other positive externalities too such as more fruitful discussions, successful negotiations, being a more amicable person to work with.

Krishan Sharma wrote this article for Comaea Consulting with research assistance of Animan Amit. Krishan is a management consultant having recruited over 100 managers, assessed over 500 executives and coached over 100 leaders in his 20 years HR career. Animan Amit is an undergraduate student of Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. 


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