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3 Simple Steps to Emotional Mastery

18th October 2017

Emotional Mastery

Since Daniel Goleman popularised Emotional Intelligence with his book of the same name, it’s been a core part of any good leadership development initiative.

And yet, I wonder how well these programmes are executed and how seriously it is taken compared to getting the job done. I am sure you can all site emotionally charged conversations and situations in the workplace. How many of them could have been avoided if the individuals concerned were more emotionally intelligent and emotionally self-aware?

Emotional Mastery, as with all things in the leadership domain, is work in progress. We are continually faced with new situations and ‘tested’ on how we respond. After all it’s out personal impact that is assessed more than our competence!

As humans our emotions drive our behaviour and help us make sense of the experiences we are having. Because of the way our brains are wired we can also recognise emotions in others and the moment we move into a management or leadership position the focus of our work moves from the technical to the social. This requires us to be much more alert to the emotions of everyone at play.

Emotions predate thoughts in the evolution of the human species. Emotions condition our actions and our experience and define the range of possible behaviours we exhibit. Consider for a moment how you respond when you are feeling fearful, excitement or calm.

In each of these your body will react in a different way. You may sit of stand slightly differently, your breathing may change, the muscles in your face will be different and your heart rate may vary. Every emotion affects us physically.

If leadership is always work in progress, and emotional intelligence is a core competency, how do we become masters of our emotions?

Toward Emotional Mastery

Here 3 simple steps of how you can become more masterful in understanding and managing your own emotions:

Self-awareness. Become more conscious how about how you are feeling at any point in time and name that emotion. You can do this at any point in the day, when you wake up, as you walk into a meeting, on the way home or after a phone call. There are endless possibilities throughout the day.

In those moments become more aware of how you are physically and the behaviours that you display. Be objective. Become an observer of yourself rather than being hi-jacked by your emotion. Name it and accept it without judgement.

Self-regulation. Be in control and regulate your impulses. Direct your emotional energy appropriately. It is not always appropriate to express how you are feeling there and then! Recognise and personally acknowledge your impulses without having them take over. Treat them as good advisors and decide when and where is the best place is to express how you are feeling.

Self-expression. Most people I know can, and will, express positive emotions however, find it more difficult to express negative emotions. This is usually because they are associated with negative experiences in the past that have caused pain. When explored these experiences often go back to when we were a child and interpreted the world differently to how we do as adults. They may well be distorted so it’s always worth exploring the stories behind how you are feeling to determine if they are true.

Healthy self-expression is a way of responding to what life throws at you both positively and negatively.

If you are still unsure about the value of negative emotions read this poem:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of it’s furniture,

Still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing out

For some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent

As a guide from above.

Rumi

(taken from Conscious Business by Fred Kofman)

Where are you on your personal journey? If you feel you would like some personal support to enable you to be the best that you can be email me to set up a free discovery call and explore what might be the best next steps for you.

‘The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.

Heracleitus

 

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