When does communication usually start to break down? It’s simple: When what we say or what we hear conflicts with what we’d like to hear or how we would like to be received. When we don’t like what we hear or how our communication is received, we start to shut down, form walls, and push back. We lose our objectivity and centeredness, and we stop communicating effectively.-From Many Parts, One Body, pg. 74.
Not many people, if any at all, could honestly say that they’ve never let their emotions get the better of them. In fact, I’m willing to bet that many of you, within just this past day, have found yourself in such a situation, whether or not you confronted it or chose to avoid it. The fact is, nothing good comes from having to make important decisions or interacting with others when you’ve suddenly become overly emotional. Most of the time, it’s without warning. And when we’re caught off guard, we easily miss our window of opportunity–and chance to save us from our own demise–by putting our emotions in check before the sparks catch fire and we make mountains out of molehills.
Take heed: we are only human after all. Nobody is perfect. Most of the time, all it takes is the simple reminder that being imperfect means mistakes will happen. Emotions are a natural part of being human. Emotionally charged situations are inevitable. And some of them don’t always disappear quickly. But you must move beyond them if you are to act rationally and sensibly. Your inner health, as well as the health of those around you, depends on it.
There are numerous ways to work on becoming more centered and getting control back onto your side:
- Focus on the root of the problem and not your emotion: The root of the problem is the source of the emotion. Emotions don’t just come out of thin air. They have a source. To be clear, the source is not a person but a thing. In most cases, the person is just the messenger. Focusing on the root of the problem essentially means get to the heart of the issue. Resolve the issue and the emotion will go away 100% of the time. Focus on the emotion and you run the risk of never resolving anything.
- Eliminate non-truths and your own assumptions: Let’s face it, emotion-centered situations cloud discernment and truth. It’s easy to stretch the truth to our favor when we are emotionally charged. Frankly, all rationality can go out the door. Simply start by separating TRUTH from ASSUMPTION (meaning those things you cannot fully prove). And if you don’t know, how are you going to find out? The bottom line is this: don’t act on assumptions built from your emotions.
- Sleep on it: Have you heard the saying, “A good night’s sleep can do wonders”? Give yourself a “go” pass to not have to resolve the problem right away. Allow the emotion to reside a little, regain perspective and with a clearer mind, look at your situation again. Do you still see and feel the same way?
- Seek counsel from others who are not biased to that person or issue: Often times, we want to be the king of the world and conquer it all by ourselves. Emotional problem solving does no good. If you’ve tried all of the above and still can’t problem-solve without bias, it’s time to consider getting help and seeking counsel from someone you both trust and respect.
When emotions take over, they literally take over. The truth of the matter is, there is always a chance we can judge, treat others, and make decisions incorrectly when emotions are involved. And if we allow ourselves to over-react, we can turn spur-of-the-moment reactions and decisions into a lot of no goods. And sometimes those no goods take days–if not months–to recover from, if at all.
Your leadership challenge: Keep your emotions in check. Don’t be emotionless. Just don’t let them get the best of you.