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Coach’s Corner: Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve in Business? 5 Ways to Manage Your Emotions for Professional Success
It happened to Hillary Clinton during a New Hampshire campaign stop in 2008, and recently to Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gilliards as she spoke about the hardships faced by Queensland flood victims. High profile males are not exempt: Vice President Joe Biden experienced it while bidding thanks and Speaker of the House John Boehner has made it his trademark. I’m referring to expressing your inner emotions and actually shedding tears during a business meeting, public discourse, or one-on-one discussion. While some may speculate on the intention or genuineness behind such “rehearsed” tactics, others may temporarily develop a connection or attraction to individuals who wear their heart on their sleeve. For those who believe that showing emotion makes you human and approachable in business, I highly suspect this conduct is being confused with being empathetic, understanding, and compassionate. In business, wearing your heart on your sleeve is an indiscretion; one which is bound to compromise your competence, skill, capacity, authority and surely taints your professional image.
Discovering Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to making your emotions work for you by utilizing them in ways that produce results you want. Research conducted by EQ gurus indicates that individuals who exercise this ability experience a higher level of success within their social and professional lives. Hendrie Weisinger, a psychologist, organizational consultant and author of Emotional Intelligence at Work: The Untapped Edge for Success writes about five key factors that emotional intelligence is comprised of:
Applying Your Emotional Intelligence
Applying your emotional intelligence is simple once you practice certain techniques that help eliminate wearing your heart on your sleeve. Tune in to your actions and listen to how you address yourself within your inner-thoughts. Allow those inner-thoughts to guide your actions. Learn to relax by thinking of people who provide security in your life; revert to happy times in your life; and train yourself to inhale long cleansing breaths which are exhaled gradually. Slow down your actions in order to synchronize them with your thoughts and emotions. Break down large projects into smaller tasks and delegate responsibilities so they seem less overwhelming. Understand the motivation behind your actions and anticipate the end result whenever possible to avoid anxiety. Whenever possible and appropriate, incorporate humor to diffuse your emotions or any awkward situations.
Managing Your Emotions
1. Anxiety- You may develop feelings of uncertainty due to new management, reorganizations and downsizing within your company. Realize that your anxiety will neither alter the situation nor help you face the changes that are making you feel anxious. Try to get as much clarification on the situation that is making you uneasy. Public meltdowns and anxiety attacks are counter productive. Devise a self-motivating plan that will put you in control and make you feel less vulnerable.
2. Frustration - Disappointment usually sets in when your hard work is overlooked at your current employment or when you constantly end up the bridesmaid/groomsman during your job search. Well, if you see a trend of being overlooked or one of not landing a job, then you must self-examine the situation to uncover where you keep coming up short. Is it your presentation? Is it your attitude? Poor references you don’t know about? Are you being unrealistic about your skill set or shooting for a salary that is outside of the market value for a candidate of your level? Examine all of the possibilities with a fine tooth comb before you become a victim of your frustration.
3. Unhappiness-- Personal and professional disappointments can lead to a state of misery. Few people can conceal feelings of sadness for extended periods of time. A state of depression can be so transparent that colleagues and clients will quickly become aware of it. You may become so miserable that it becomes difficult for you to get out of bed to even make an appearance at work. Seek guidance from a person who is outside of your unhappy state, ideally a trained counselor. Feelings of unhappiness tend to grow like wildfire, so you want to shake them off before they overwhelm you.
4. Panic - Panic sets in when you feel threatened that you’re being replaced by a more junior, less experienced, and less expensive employee. Or perhaps, your unemployment is about to run out and you’re terrified of being out on the street. This is when you switch into “EMERGENCY” mode while utilizing a calm approach. Anticipate your options and map out the “worse case scenario” in your mind. It’s difficult to think rationally when you’re in a panic-stricken state. Confidentially and judiciously seek an emotional mentor such as friend, family member, counselor, or clergy who can help calm your alarmed state of being.
5. Eagerness-- Revel in the excitement of moving your belongings to the corner office on the penthouse floor. Maybe, you’ve accepted a new job offer outside of your company altogether. This is the moment you’ve worked for and yes, you do deserve to savor the moment (hold back the tears of joy). Instead, be sensitive to the feelings of those around you. Also, be sure to continue to relate well to friends and foes you are leaving behind. Do not stir up controversy during your two-week notice period. Keep in mind that you always want to leave an open door for yourself (even if you’re positive you never want to go back) and remember that you may need a reference down the road.
It is important to regulate the highs and lows of your emotions. Shifting to neutral is by far your best bet in business. Don’t follow public figures whose publicists craft emotional outbursts. Heir on the side of caution and never let them see you sweat with your heart on your sleeve.