Building emotional resilience

Emotions at work just happen. Frustration, anger, disappointment and many more can be triggered almost by everything: a deadline missed, colleague getting a promotion or the organizational structure changing. Emotions are normal – also at work therefore we should not hide them, just express them well. You don’t want to be perceived as emotionless robot, do you? Emotions are important to express what you like, don’t like, what hits your values. However they cannot be aimed at hurting or putting others down, released in unprofessional way or be a way of releasing stress. Let’s look at working on the best way to pass emotional statements.

How to prepare yourself for communicating emotions?

  • Analyze facts. Make sure that you understand what your interlocutor has in mind. What are the arguments he/she is bringing to the table and why.
  • Understand the impact you are making. Ask yourself whether this is the right way of communicating emotions to this person. How will the person react, what consequences can it have to your future relationship and cooperation? Could there be any additional elements that push a person to act in specific way that triggers you?
  • Ask yourself some key questions. What is the right level of emotional reaction to this situation? Do you have influence on this situation? What might be the consequences of my emotional reaction? What would your mentor do in this case?  Etc.
  • Look for solutions. Sharing emotions should not be the aim in itself. It needs to go with some proposal of solutions, actions and next steps. Only this will allow to make it justified and a rounded statement rather than just a rant.
  • Choose the right way of communication. Email may not always be the best choice. It gives too much space for interpretation. Talking with people directly or via phone, video might be more accurate.
  • Take help from others. There are some difficult situations in which involving others ie. HR into very emotional conversations might bring better results. It allows to depersonalize the issue and put them into more formalized processes which in some cases might be required.

Building and communicating emotional statements

  • Name your emotions. Don’t just show them and assume people will understand. Often disappointment can be taken for frustration, anger for dislike etc. Make sure the other side knows what you are feeling.
  • Rely on facts. If you are planning to show your frustration, disappointment or any other negative emotion make sure that it’s supported by facts. Showing real data can easily justify a frustration of a problem not solved for months or disappointment in an under performing person. It will also show that the criticism is not personal.
  • Communicate the impact it’s having. Make sure that the interlocutor understands the consequences of his/her actions and reactions and impact it can have on work, people and relationships.
  • Suggest a solution. Don’t focus only on putting your emotions out there. Communicating emotion needs to have a constructive goal. Suggest a way of resolving a problem or moving forward with the conversation. Don’t leave the conversation hanging on emotions only.
  • Be respectful. Never do anything that can give an impression of having no respect to others. You don’t want to be perceived as not professional and bullying.

Emotional Don’ts

  • Never make decisions when angry or frustrated. Emotions blur your judgement. You may say thing or say them in a way you will later regret. Also don’t reply to any emails unless it’s absolutely necessary. Actually wait even a day or so before responding. Sometimes it may force the sender to re-think what he/she has written.
  • Don’t bring negative emotions home. Home should be your safety avenue. Even if your partner works in the same company or market, don’t use them to vent. Focus on anything that can take your mind away from work: sport, kids, walk, tv.
  • Don’t allow for emotional outburst. It’s unprofessional and can only be seen negatively. If you really¬† have to calm down, step out of the meeting, ask for break, put yourself on mute. Never show people you have no control over your emotions.

Building emotional resilience

For a leader communicating and managing your emotions is not enough. If you want to be a strong leader – high emotional resilience will definitely put you on that path, as it shows your able to manage setbacks and still create a strategy to move forward. Emotional resilience is an inner strength and motivation that allows us to go through and overcome negative experiences. Developing emotional resilience is hard as it requires constant work on emotions and its triggers. Here are few things that can help to improve on your resilience:

  • Work on your self- awareness. This topic comes back as boomerang as a key characteristic of a strong leader. I wrote about it also in: Shaping your leadership lifestyle post. In this case it’s about understanding what triggers you. What makes you frustrated and angry and what situations lead to disappointment. If you will learn to recognize those triggers coming at early stages – it will allow for a more controlled reaction.
  • Learn to accept things. Accept that there are things you have no influence on and there’s no point to agonize over them. Accept that sometimes things will go not the way you wanted. Acceptance doesn’t mean you are giving up. It means you need to look for another way of achieving it.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your physical and psychological health. Eat proper meals, get enough sleep, exercise, spend time offline – you will have more energy to overcome emotional challenges.
  • Stay positive. Surround yourself with positive people and thoughts. Negative energy can be very draining and impact your own perception of things. Stay away from that.
  • Have a way to release pressure. It might be venting to a friend over a bottle of beer, long jog or lonely hiking. Whatever works for you and helps to get rid of bad emotions.
  • Find supporters. You don’t need to deal with everything on your own. Don’t be afraid of asking for help or advise. Different perspective may shed new light on how you approach things.
  • Step out of comfort zone. Develop yourself, step into new paths that allow for different emotions and situations. It will prepare you for a broader range of emotions and challenges.
  • Learn from mistakes. Making mistakes is normal. What should not be normal is repeating them.

And remember – if you won’t manage emotions, they will manage you.

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