The holiday season is in full swing! In addition to preparing for holiday activities, many of us are focusing on completing year-end tasks before taking time off from work. December can be a festive, high pressure, and emotional time of the year.
For example, based on an emotional reaction, a client of mine recently responded to a colleague in a defensive and aggressive manner during a team meeting. My client was impatient and frustrated about the questions her colleague was asking her. The meeting ended with hurt feelings on both sides and the problem remained unsolved.
Emotions can drive intentional and unintentional behaviors during any time of the year. The key is to be aware of your emotions, identify what is triggering a specific emotion, and manage them.
It is not always easy to manage your own emotions in addition to someone else’s emotions. It takes an increased awareness and a quick strategy to foster a positive outcome.
Here are a few strategies to manage your emotions in case you’re feeling the strain.
- Move. If possible, instead of responding impulsively to an emotional trigger, go for a walk or do a few stretches to release the tension and consider your best response.
- Breathe. To remain calm, take a deep breath just before responding.
- Smile. Smiling builds connection and helps you empathize with the other person.
- State your emotion. Be open about how you are feeling, which will lessen the intensity of the emotion.
- State the emotion you perceive from the other person. Let the person know you sense they are angry (or upset, sad, etc.). This will help engage the person in communicating and owning what they are feeling.
Awareness of your emotions allows you to effectively express your feelings and control your behaviors. For example, I recently needed to cause myself to be patient as a colleague passionately expressed her frustrations about a process. I tried several times to interject and explain specifics about the process that was frustrating her—but she was not hearing me. She was only focused on expressing her thoughts. As a result of reading her emotions, I forced myself to be patient so she felt heard. Once she was able to tell her story, I asked her a few questions about the process. We began to engage in a conversation because she was now able to focus in and listen … finally!
It took added time and energy on my part to manage my emotions along with those of my colleague. The final outcome was a productive two-way conversation that led to a solution.
As human beings, we all have emotions—and we have the ability to manage our emotions. The key is to find the strategy that is best for you!