April 3, 2023

What is emotional agility? Learn how to apply it at work!

In the workplace, stress and problems are inevitable. Sooner or later, we all go through situations that put to the test the control we have over our emotions. The modern work world tells us that we must face such situations with stoicism and fortitude. However, repressing our emotions doesn’t offer good results most of the time. Fortunately, there is a method that helps us face work problems in a healthier way. 

Have you heard about emotional agility? This is a technique that can help you a lot while working in a team and going through stressful situations. At T2W we have extensive experience in human resources management, so we are familiar with this concept. In this article, we’ll delve deep into emotional agility and the best way to apply it in your professional and personal life. 

What is emotional agility? 

This is a concept developed by South African psychologist Susan David. According to her, emotional agility is the ability to experience thoughts and emotions without letting these have a negative influence on us. Through this approach, you can use emotions as signs that show you the actions and changes you must adopt in your life. 

While having a conflict or a negative situation at work, many people give in to emotions. Other people try to suppress those emotions, but they just end up building them up. Eventually, they will reach a point where pressure will make those emotions blow up. Both approaches are not positive at work or in your personal life. 

How to develop emotional agility?

1. Identify the emotions

Are you aware of your thoughts and emotions? Yes, we all have a felt certain way in specific situations at work. If your boss makes a comment about your work and you perceive a negative tone, it will create an emotion in you. However, most people get carried away by emotions and it isn’t after they have said something that they notice they felt angry or sad. 

That is why it’s so important to identify the emotion you feel during that moment of conflict. If a comment or action creates an emotion in you, the first step is to be aware of that emotion without judging if it’s justifiable or not. Here you can use the help of mindfulness. 

By using the mindfulness approach, you can practice at home paying attention to each thought and emotion you have. Then, once you go through a situation of conflict, ask yourself, “What is it that I am feeling?” This way, you leave a state in which you only feel or react and move to a neutral one where you can visualize each thought and emotion you experience.

2. Distance yourself

Ok, you have identified the emotion without judging if it’s justifiable or not. The next step is to distance yourself from that emotion or thought. This is a difficult step, especially for people who tend to experience intense emotions. You should start by not repressing the emotions you experience at that moment. 

Emotions are valid. They speak about what we like or dislike and influence our decisions. However, emotions do not decide our actions for us. A useful trick that will help you distance yourself from what you feel is to name or tag each emotion. When you are in a situation of conflict, and after you have identified the emotion as seen in step 1, tell yourself what you are feeling at that moment. 

Start by telling yourself in your mind, “This conversation is creating feelings of anger”. By tagging the emotions you experience, you gain awareness, and you can use it to avoid giving in to them. This way, you can distance yourself from that moment of intense emotions and let go. 

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3. Find your motivation

Now you have distanced yourself from that intense emotion in the moment of conflict. That is a great achievement! The next step is to avoid acting in a way you might regret afterwards. To do that, you need motivation. Motivation will prevent you from acting in a way you really don’t want. Start by defining your personal objectives, your values and what’s really important for you. 

Ask yourself if the emotions you are experiencing in that moment really align with your values and objectives. Giving in to anger during an uncomfortable conversation in a job meeting may not align with what’s important for you. Having a clear and defined motivation will help you remain calm and focused.

4. Move on

Ok, you have identified the emotion; you have distanced yourself from it and defined a motivation to remain calm. The next step is taking action to avoid that happening again. To achieve that, you have to make small changes in your daily habits. That will help you modify the way you perceive each situation. 

The main objective here is to create habits that are aligned with your motivation: your personal objectives and values you defined in step 3. Keep always in mind that emotions only stay with us for short periods of time. All emotions that appear in a moment of conflict eventually will lose steam and fade. 

Now you know what emotional agility is and how to use it. Try to use this technique in your daily life. With a little patience, you will become an emotionally agile person at work and in your personal life. 

At Talent2Win, we strive to align your company’s business objectives with the best Talent Acquisition strategies available. If you want to learn more about the services we offer, do not hesitate to contact us.       

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