April 23

Course Correction with Emotions

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Today's focus is on a key competency of emotional intelligence, Navigating Emotions. This competency directly impacts self-regulation and motivation.

Story

I am behind getting this article done in my usual time frame. That is frustrating for me. Why am I later than I want? Because the electricity has been out all day. Ever stop to think what life would be like without electricity? Well, I can tell you it is not much fun. It started with the alarm going off this morning to alert us that the electricity had gone out. This is the one morning of the week that I can sleep in. What an awesome start to the day. So uncertainty and annoyance, both emotions, were some of the first emotions I experienced today. This is when my navigating emotions skill kicked in. OK, it probably won't be that bad. Surely they will have it fixed soon. Now the clock is ticking in my head of how many minutes I am losing to get the things done I want to get done.

So time to pivot! I decided I needed to go to go out to get some caffeine. Of course it is raining like crazy. But that's OK, the car is nice and dry in the garage. So I get dressed and my wife and I head to the garage. Some of you are probably already ahead of me. As I reach up to push the garage door opener, I realize "no electricity". Great! Now I am feeling frustrated and a little upset. My navigating emotions goes to DEFCON 4. I can deal with this. We have another car outside. I just have to go out the front door and bring it to the front walk for my wife to get in. So I step out the front door and the heavens open up with rain like I have not seen in years. Ugh! Even with a raincoat on I am getting soaked. But we made it in the car and we are traveling to our favorite coffee place.

Photo by Valentin Müller on Unsplash

We get about half way there and my wife gets a text. I always ask her who it is. It is the electric company saying they have identified additional repairs and the expected time for the electricity to come back on has been pushed 3 hours. Seriously! Now I am well on my way up the anger escalator. I have gone from annoyed to frustrated, and now I am mad. My internal sirens are going off telling me that I need to be careful how I react. It is so easy to just lash out, but guess who gets the brunt of that? My wife, who certainly does not deserve it. So my navigating emotions are now at DEFCON 3, with lights and alarms going off to remind me that I need to be careful in what I do and say.

The trip to the coffee shop was uneventful after that. I am still feeling the emotions but their impact reduces in intensity given some time. Then we get back to the house, have about a half hour, of peace, and then the most dreaded of all sounds begins. Chirp.............Chirp...........Chirp. The smoke alarm has decided to make its presence known. And it can't be the smoke alarms that are easy to get to. It has to be the one that is mounted so high I can only reach it if I go to the top rung of the ladder. What else can go wrong!!! (Side note...that is not a question you want to voice out loud or even think in your head. It always seems to make things worse. Kind of like calling a curse down on yourself.) I have just escalated to righteous anger! I do not deserve this. What is wrong with the world?! Then I hear from the other room my wife saying in her sweet voice that I love so much, "FYI, they are now saying it will be another 4 hours for the electricity".

Very Angry Man

I am now officially at DEFCON 2. My finger is on the button ready to launch. I take a breath, and make an intentional choice to de-escalate. I am still feeling the emotions, but I am leveraging the heck out of my navigating emotions skill so that I don't say or do something that I will regret. Is it easy? No, but it is worth the energy and effort because my peace of mind and my relationships are far more important in the long run than just unloading.

Well, 2 hours into the 4 hour delay the electricity comes back on. I am euphoric! Then I realize that the electric company always seems to do this. Announce delays and then get the electricity back on well ahead of the time they said in the last notification. Now I am suspicious. Another wonderful emotion we all deal with. By this time I have amped up my navigating emotions so high that this suspicion is not even a blip on the radar.

Here are a few things I would like you to know from this true story:

  • NEVER let yourself reach DEFCON 1. For those not familiar with that term, it is a rating of the potential for war in our nation. DEFCON 1 means you are launching everything you have. Unfortunately, I see this behavior all to often in people. Sometimes it manifests in very ugly and destructive ways.
  • The "amount" of navigating emotions capability available to you is only that amount you have stockpiled to the point where the challenge, crisis, or opportunity comes into your life.
  • The way you build an internal resource like navigating emotions is every day. It is like a productive habit you put in place to improve your life.
  •  At the core of navigating emotions is making a decision to be more intentional, so that you get better outcomes.

The easy way to know where you stand in your navigating emotions competency. Consider what percentage of the time you quickly react to a situation versus the percentage of time you take a more thoughtful and considered approach to come up with a better response. React versus Response.

Navigate Emotions

Navigating Emotions is one of the core competencies in the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence. It involves the capacity to assess, harness, and transform emotions to achieve desired outcomes. This competency enables individuals to manage emotional reactions effectively and use their emotions to facilitate rather than disrupt tasks. It allows people to stay open to feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant, and to derive useful insights from these emotional experiences. Emotions are simply messages your brain generates for you around specific events or thoughts.

In everyday life, Navigating Emotions might show up as the ability to remain calm during a heated discussion, maintaining focus under stress, or even channeling excitement effectively to motivate others. A leader who can navigate emotions effectively, for example, might use their understanding of team dynamics to mediate conflicts and build a cohesive work environment.

Individuals with low scores in navigating emotions often experience difficulties in their personal and professional relationships. They may struggle to manage stress, become easily overwhelmed in challenging situations, and might not respond effectively to feedback. This can lead to poor decision-making, decreased productivity, and even health issues such as anxiety and depression. Relationships at work and at home may suffer due to inappropriate or uncontrolled emotional responses.

Identifying a deficit in navigating emotions can be achieved by reflecting on one’s behavior and decision-making processes. Signs include:

  • Frequent overreaction to minor annoyances.
  • Difficulty calming oneself down after an emotional upset.
  • Tendency to feel overwhelmed by stressful situations.
  •  Making impulsive decisions influenced by one’s mood rather than facts.

Strategies for Developing Navigating Emotions

Improving the competency of navigating emotions can lead to numerous benefits. For professionals, it enhances leadership abilities, improves conflict resolution skills, and boosts team performance. On a personal level, it contributes to better relationships, increased resilience, and overall well-being. Individuals become more adept at handling uncertainty and are better positioned to face personal and professional challenges.

Developing this competency involves consistent practice and mindfulness (defined as practicing self-awareness). Here are specific ways to enhance navigating emotions:

  • Emotional Literacy: Regular practice of identifying and labeling one’s own emotions and those of others can heighten awareness and control.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices help in observing one’s emotional patterns without judgment, fostering a deeper understanding and management of emotions.
  • Journaling: Writing about emotional experiences can clarify feelings and enhance emotional regulation.
  • Cognitive Reappraisal: Learning to reinterpret a situation to change its emotional impact can significantly aid in managing reactions.
  •  Seek Feedback: Regular feedback about emotional responses from trusted colleagues or a coach can provide insights and aid growth.

Ensuring Growth in Navigating Emotions

To ensure continued growth in navigating emotions, it is essential to establish regular check-ins with oneself or with a coach to monitor progress. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals around emotional intelligence practices can also structure development efforts effectively.

Navigating emotions is a critical competency in emotional intelligence that impacts various aspects of personal and professional life. By understanding and developing this skill, individuals can enhance their ability to cope with challenges, lead effectively, and build healthier relationships. As we continue to face complex interpersonal dynamics and stressful situations, mastering the art of navigating emotions becomes not only beneficial but essential.

Update: We are now 2 hours into having electricity restored. Just writing this article has made me effectively deal with the residual emotions from earlier today. Isn't it funny how quickly we get over some things...until the next time it happens!

Copyright © 2024 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: info@gscfit.com.


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