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Who’s Paying the Price for Your Emotions?

Have you ever considered who’s paying the price for your emotional state?  If you’re in a bad mood in one meeting, do you find that you’ve taken that mood into the next meeting?  And then, those people in the second meeting are paying the price for what’s happened previously, and often have absolutely no idea why.

The meeting then becomes unproductive, possibly even hostile.  Your bad mood sets off a bad energy and soon everyone is arguing, or quietly very worried!  No good discussions can come out of this when everyone is fighting their position, or keeping quiet so they’re out of the firing line.

This doesn’t just happen with meetings, it happens whenever your threat triggers are activated.   So, when you feel unfairly treated, when your position is being challenged, when someone is arguing with you, when someone is “telling” you what to do and how to be.

Whenever our insecurities are prodded, we feel it significantly.  Any area where we are feeling even a small lack of confidence, someone can inadvertently push the buttons, and our stress is triggered.  This includes beliefs about ourselves and the values about the way we should be treated.

It can be a conversation with one person which triggers this, and then you take it with you, sometimes for the rest of the day – and everyone in your wake pays the price for it!

That is, unless you can identify it and stop it before it gets out of hand.  We can all do it, we do it all the time, but it’s doing it in the moment that’s important.

Most of us can remember times when we’ve ended up paying the price for someone else’s problems.  One I remember distinctly was when a manager had been challenged by his bosses because of a big project issue.  He didn’t like there being a mistake on his watch, he was frustrated, angry even – he felt his capabilities were being exposed.  And then I got that same frustration directed straight down to me – and his stress was amplified!

We can also take these emotions home with us.  Often our families take the brunt of our stresses and anxieties from work.  Unfortunately, if you’re on the receiving end, it’s human nature to assume it must be our fault that someone else is unhappy.  Our initial reaction is not to think it must have been from a previous event that’s still lingering hours later.

Self-awareness is the key.  Becoming aware of the moment it happens, so that you can then do something about it, before spreading the emotion around!

If you find in a business situation that you are going through a psychologically threatening time (eg when you’re feeling angry, insecure, uncertain, anxious, demotivated etc), then here are a few ways to increase the “reward” (simultaneously reducing the “threat”) to balance your emotions.

  • Calm yourself with deep breathing.
  • Identify and label the emotions that you are feeling in the situation. This helps to stop the emotion escalating and going into overwhelm.
  • Ask yourself what motivational needs might be being threatened.
  • Reframe – what other way can you look at this? What else can be going on here? Very important step, this one.
  • Focus on the positive, what could you get out of this situation, what are the rewards?
  • Utilise other people as positive resource by thinking about how they might behave in this situation.

It would also be worth trying to work out if you can identify any patterns in your behaviour.  Look for certain types of conversations, words or attitudes that you react to quickly and negatively.

Leaders who are effective communicators have a better understanding of their own emotions, beliefs and insecurities.  Knowing what it’s like to pay the price for someone else’s bad mood, they actively work on ensuring that other people are not paying the price for their emotions.

If you’re interested to find out how understanding emotions and human behaviour can help you in the work place, then please contact us about executive coaching.

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