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How Emotional Stupidity at Work Can Derail a Career

Within the most charismatic teacher, the boss who rules with an iron fist, or the poker-faced bank manager, emotions guide every action and decision.

We are constantly challenged to address an emotional need — when resolving conflict, being late to catch a flight, or after yet one more task is added to our to-do list – and these can push us to the edge. What should you NOT do?

Don’t resign, don’t scream at the poor guy at the front desk, and don’t blame yourself obsessively. Everyone has the ability to increase their emotional intelligence; in other words, to achieve emotional balance.

What are emotions? Think of them like a selection of shoes you can choose to wear on your life path. Every pair conveys an emotion, whether you choose brown sandals, black boots, red pumps or white sneakers. Each creates a different look, and makes you feel or walk better.

Our feet carry a load with each step we take, day in and day out, but when we realize we can change shoes to accommodate our walk, our life can change.

In the same way, one does not have to remain stuck in one emotional state if you can identify and learn how to shift your emotional state by shifting your thoughts. If we don’t know how to observe our emotional state and learn to choose consciously the mental attitudes that shape how we feel, we are stuck with our instinctual mind — and the pain that uncontrolled emotional states can inflict.

The emotionally intelligent person can benefit fully from the ability to harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended objectives.

“No one is stronger or more dangerous than a man who can harness his emotions.” 

  • from the movie Act of Valor


Emotional intelligence starts with awareness. Here are 6 things you can start doing TODAY that will make you emotionally smarter:

  1. Identify and feel the emotion. Appreciate the message. Listen if your emotions are saying you should change something.
  2. What is this emotion trying to tell me? Do I need to change my perception (the meaning) or my procedures (my communication or my behavior)?
  3. Be curious / ask questions. How would I like to feel? (As soon as you identify what you want to feel, you’re moving in the right direction). What would I have to believe in order to feel that way now? What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it? What is positive about this, or what can I learn from this?
  4. Be confident. Recall a specific time when you felt a lack of confidence and what you did to move past it.
  5. Be certain. Imagine ways of dealing with this emotion; if one doesn’t work, try another. Rehearse until you feel confident.
  6. Be enthusiastic and take action. Don’t let yourself be distracted; savour the pleasure of being in the moment.

By learning how to perceive, use, understand and manage your emotional intelligence and that of those around you, you can be more successful in your work and personal life.