Some people are masterful in suppressing their emotions, up to the point that you cannot gauge their emotional state at all. More importantly, neither could they, if you had the chutzpah to ask them. Well, I am not one of them. My emotions are often dialed up: I am as easily enthusiastic and happy as I get angry. I leave it to you to guess which emotion I would rather get rid of for good. Alas, it is not so simple.
Coming to terms with anger is what has always had me keenly interested in all things Emotional Mastery. Not only since I have personally experienced how a bigger range of emotions can inhibit a career, because emotions make some people feel very uneasy. Still, I am no fan of suppressing emotions.
And at Choose Leadership we don’t promote it when we engage with teams where emotions run high. Why not?
Emotions are a goldmine.
They flag up quickly that something needs to be addressed. Our emotions inform us much more quickly than our thinking brain. That is their true value to both individuals and teams.
So I was delighted to read the chapter on Emotional Mastery in Fred Kofman’s book Conscious Business. How to build value through values.
And I want to share a few of the many insights from this amazing book which might come in handy as you lead a team or yourself.
To master emotions, you need to understand their root stories, because emotions are preceded by an interpretation and only then turn into impulses. Let’s look at the root stories underneath happiness, enthusiasm, fear and anger, to then explore what they invite us to address.
Why do you feel happy?
You think that something good has just happened. You have gained something you value. We tend not to celebrate. Instead we quickly move on to the next thing we need to achieve. A question that happiness points you to is therefore:
Which significant achievements do I/we need to celebrate?
Why are you enthusiastic?
Enthusiasm springs from the belief that something good is about to happen. You believe that you can gain something. The question that enthusiasm points you to is:
Are there significant opportunities that I/we need to focus on?
Why are you angry?
Anger arises when you believe that someone has done you wrong, that they did something they shouldn’t have done, and hence harmed you. Anger calls you to make a complaint, in an effort to rectify a wrong and to reestablish overstepped boundaries. It also is a call for repairing the damage and protecting it for the future. A productive expression of anger, which always starts with the hurt you are experiencing, is the start of a process of forgiveness.
The question anger points to is:
Is there a significant anger that you need to express and forgive?
Why are you afraid?
Fear stems from the belief that something bad could happen. We are afraid to lose something that is important to us. Fear calls us to mitigate the risk of loss and damage, so as to prepare and protect. Fear channelled into productive action leads to the question:
Are there significant risks that we need to mitigate?
At Choose Leadership we love to play with what is there, and emotions play a big part in the office – both when expressed or suppressed.
Productive emotional self-expression is likely the least practiced leadership skill for fear of giving offense.