The ability to realize, readily accept, as well as successfully control feelings in oneself (and sometimes others) is known as the emotion management skill. Very simply, emotion management skills refer to the ability to master your own emotions.
For developing emotion management skills, being open to one’s thoughts and feelings is not enough. You must have complete authority over changing your thoughts and feelings that are generated whenever your values are touched by the actions of a person or an event. This is important because the change in your thoughts and feelings is what helps change your emotions, preventing from reactive outbursts.
Why is emotion management important
Imagine yourself in one of those situations where you have been working hard for weeks to find out that project has been cancelled, or when you are given plenty of new assignments while you’re already swamped with work, or the most common one where a customer unduly shouts at you and insults you publicly. Stressful situations such as these as well as some others that may include department changes and staff layoffs etc. are way too common in the workplace.
The real question is, how do you react to such stressful situations? Could reactions like shouting back at the customer, hiding in a corner feeling sorry for oneself, or distracting oneself by playing games or chatting around help in climbing up the career ladder? The answer is, of course, a big NO!
Such behaviors tend to undermine your professional reputation as well as your work efficiency and productivity. Hence, emotion management is an important skill for a successful career. It helps you manage your reactions, by underplaying one emotion when not appropriate and overemphasizing another one when you feel the job cannot be done without it.
How to improve emotion management skills
The following stop, drop and process approach is a great help in improving emotion management skills:
- Stop. This may be the most difficult of all three steps because you need a very strong will power. The next time your emotions are so strong that you feel hijacked by them and feel a strong urge to take an action that you may regret later on, stop right there and think! Start looking for cues and the thoughts and feelings that have aggravated that behavior.
- Drop. Now that you are through with the most difficult part, engage yourself in an activity that will help you calm down. Without dropping the intensity of your emotions you may never be able to think clearly and rationally.
- Process. Now you’ll be in a better position to think about it all and come up with an appropriate reaction. First of all, identify the emotions you are feeling. It is better to update you ‘emotions-vocabulary’ for this purpose. Once you have identified what precisely it is that you’re feeling, think about its source and find out why you are feeling that way. Once you have the answers to both these questions right in front of you, you are the better judge of which is the best way to proceed, bearing in mind your ultimate goals as well as personal values.