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Your Emotions Cost You in the Workplace; Live Up to Your Potentials

by | Perspiration

As human
beings we do badly at managing our emotions. This isn
’t our fault. It’s how were
built. It
s like puppies do badly at managing their
bladders. The difference is that puppies are trained to manage their bladders
whereas we bumble through life picking up a few tips here and there and, more
often than not, failing a lot as we work it out (to the extent that we do)
through trial and error. 

We think
we are in charge of our emotions but pretty much every piece of evidence out
there suggests that, most of the time, we
re not.
And that is even more true when we
re under
pressure e.g. in a HardTalk scenario where we have to have a difficult
conversation.

Behaviour
comes from emotions

We make
decisions based on emotions and we know this because, when emotions are taken
out of the equation and we are left with just rational logic
we find it hard to make decisions
according to a great piece of research and a fascinating story written by
neuroscientist Anthony Damasio. 

We allow
other people
s behaviour to dictate ours – even if the
other person doesn
t have our best
interests/results in mind and our behaviour will be to our own detriment. For
example in one
study participants were
unknowingly paired with an opponent who was, in fact, a research assistant.
When the assistant then deliberately angered the participant e.g. by making an
insulting remark, the participant was more likely to behave in way that worked
against their own self-interest.

Most
damningly, we think we
re different: that
what applies to everyone else doesn
t apply
to us. Most drivers
think theyre above average, a
quality that can be as helpful as it is damaging.

If we dont understand where our actions come from –
and, make no mistake, unless you
ve had
some tragic accident, yours, just like mine, come from your emotions – we are
doomed to be forever unable to manage them. So if we want to manage our
behaviour (and what else is there we can manage?) we need to manage our emotions.
But how do we manage our emotions and where do our emotions come from?

Emotions
come from our Potentials

Our emotions don’t come from what the people or things
around us do or say even if it feels like that. Instead our emotions come as a
result of the stories or ‘Potentials
we come
up with to explain what others say or do. What happens “outside our head” 
– the Truths – goes through any number of “filters” – our age, culture,
language, gender etc  – and, having been filtered through the sum of our
experience, comes out the other side as Potentials i.e. judgments on what we
see and hear. 


Now
these judgements are often useful because they save us time and they
re
often right. And the emotions that come from them may very well be appropriate. 

But its
not about being right in the short term. It
s
about having self-possession – it
s about
being in control so that you can act in the way that gives you the best chance
of getting the results you want. about understanding and making a conscious
decision.

So how
do we stay self-possessed enough to manage our emotions when we interpret
another
s behaviour as, for example, rude or
condescending and we feel angry or hurt? How do we focus on responding and not
simply reacting in the moment?

Remember
you can still be angry, sad, whatever – you
re
a human and, anyway, emotions will happen! It
s
about displaying this appropriately, at the right time and making sure it
s
properly understood by the other person. 

Weve
learned a lot about how to do this and there are many tools which we discuss
and put into practice in HardTalk. But it
all comes
down to building “self-possession”

Potentials
come from how we filter the Truths

Earlier
we looked at how Actions come from Emotion which, in turn, are a result of the
Potentials we create depending on how we filter the Truths.