How to Effectively Manage Emotions in Important Situations

For the vast majority of us, being human means getting overwhelmed at times with emotions. Heck, at age 54 with four grown kids and an ex-wife, I get emotional watching life insurance ads on television. But, when we’re at work, getting emotional can have far-reaching ramifications. Learning how to effectively manage emotions at the office is a must for your career.

Emotional control is vital to your success at work and in life

Maybe it’s the pressure and anxiety that are coming from turbulent times … major changes at work … someone else’s negative attitude … or the anxiety that comes with incredible workloads? Whatever it is, you must have the skills it takes to manage emotions under pressure. Because when you do “lose it,” you’re damaging your professional (and sometimes personal) relationships and your reputation.

The right emotional preparation should make you less susceptible to inappropriate behavior, but sometimes you can feel your emotions getting the better of you. Here are some quick tips for controlling your physical response to emotions when you feel like you’re on the verge of losing it.

Manage Emotions in the Heat of the Moment

Stop Yourself from Angry Outbursts
• Count to 10
• Take a six-second pause
• Do something physically exerting
• Breathe deeply
• Visualize the emotion moving from your amygdala to your prefrontal cortex

Stop Yourself from Crying
• Take a really deep breath and let it out calmly and coolly
• Blink a few times and look into a light; this makes your pupils contract and will keep tears from falling. Cross your eyes
• Pinch yourself or bite your tongue
• Do math problems in your head
• Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth

Stop Yourself from Laughing
• Think of something very sad and depressing
• Pinch yourself or cause some other strong physical sensation, such as biting your inner cheek or your tongue
• Exhale as much air as possible from your lungs
• Try physically pulling the corners of your mouth down into a frown
• Clamp your teeth together

Managing Emotions in Decision Making

Sometimes decisions can be based on emotions alone (chicken or fish?). Sometimes decisions should be based on logic alone (all the computer models indicate plan B). But most of the time, decisions are made with a combination of emotions and logic. When should you use your head and when should you use your heart?

Decision-making Process

Head: Define the problem.
Heart: Don’t react immediately to what you think the problem is. Instead, try to understand more about why you think there’s a problem.

Head: Look at potential causes for the problem.
Heart: Use emotional feedback—does it sound right but feel wrong?

Head: Seek alternative approaches to resolving the problem; weigh pros and cons; test hypotheses.
Heart: Get into other people’s shoes to analyze problems from more than one perspective.

Head: Select an approach to resolve the problem.
Heart: Balance a fear of failure with wishful thinking; listen to your gut instinct.

Head: Carry out the chosen option.
Heart: Inspire others to support your decision by tapping into their emotions.

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