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Dealing effectively with emotions is a key leadership skill. And naming our emotions — what psychologists call labeling — is an important first step in dealing with them effectively. But it’s harder than it sounds; many of us struggle to identify what exactly we are feeling, and often times the most obvious label isn’t actually the most accurate.
There are a variety of reasons why this is so difficult: We’ve been trained to believe that strong emotions should be suppressed. We have certain (sometimes unspoken) societal and organizational rules against expressing them. Or we’ve never learned a language to accurately describe our emotions. Consider these two examples:
Neena is in a meeting with Jared and the whole time he has been saying things that make her want to explode. In addition to interrupting her at every turn, he’s reminded everyone again about that one project she worked on that failed. She’s so angry.
Mikhail gets home after a long day and sighs as he hangs up his coat. His wife asks if anything’s wrong. “I’m just stressed,” he says, pulling out laptop his to finish a report.
Anger and stress are two of the emotions we see most in the workplace — or at least those are the terms we use for them most frequently. Yet they are often masks for deeper feelings that we could and should describe in more nuanced and precise ways, so that we develop greater levels of emotional agility, a critical capability that enables us to interact more successfully with ourselves and the world (more on emotional agility in my new book of the same name, available here).
Yes, Neena may be mad, but what if she is also sad? Sad that her project failed, and maybe also anxious that that failure is going to haunt her and her career. With Jared interrupting her so frequently, that anxiety feels increasingly justified. Why didn’t the project work? And what’s going to become of her job now? All of these emotions feed into her anger, but they are also separate feelings that she should identify and address.
And what if what’s behind Mikhail’s stress is the fact that he’s just not sure he’s in the right career? Long days used to be fun — why aren’t they any more? He’s surely stressed, but what’s going on under that?
for more: https://hbr.org/2016/11/3-ways-to-better-understand-your-emotions