Being conscious of, and naming our emotions can move us from being at the mercy of our emotions to being in control of ourselves and our impact on others. – Learning in Action, Alison Whitmire
It is often challenging to find underlying themes in consulting work with senior leaders. Their business challenges are so diverse, as are their team demographics. I spend a great deal of time customizing solutions to meet niche obstacles but one thing remains a constant. Leader growth in the area of Emotional Intelligence is not new but it is gaining importance with each passing day. Why? Because our emotions are shaped by our past experiences and our DNA. This matters because the same situation, experienced by a group of people, will provoke different reactions in every individual. Leaders need to have insight first into what motivates and triggers them personally before they can observe and facilitate the learning in those they lead. Understanding our interpretation of a situation and how it differs from what actually is happening, is part of a strong emotionally intelligent foundation.
Learning IN Action has narrowed the field of emotions down to 7. When all other emotions are rolled up into these 7, they constitute 100% of the emotions we generally experience. Of course, there are hundreds of iterations of each emotion but this is a way of simplifying the practice to deepen our Self-Awareness.
The 7 Emotions are (5 negative and 2 positive) and feeling words associated with them are:
Anger – angry, annoyed, frustrated, irritated, infuriated, outraged, bitter, indignant, mad, perturbed, ticked, seething, cross, enraged, provoked, rankled, riled, livid, vexed, impatient, dismay, appalled, spiteful.
Anxiety – anxious, worried, stressed, nervous, uneasy, queasy, apprehensive, concerned, timid, jittery, angst, tense, misgiving, troubled, doubt, consternation, dubious, perplexed, overwhelmed.
Fear – fear, afraid, petrified, panic, alarm, horror, frightened, panicky, scared, threatened, desperate, foreboding.
Joy – joy, confidence, vitality, resilience, buoyancy, stability, self-assured, certain, energetic, lively, brave, curious, eager, elated, comfortable, relaxed, hopeful, dynamic, excited, optimistic, bold.
Love – love, caring, warmth, connection, attentive, tender, compassionate, fond, attached, adore, devoted, cherish, treasure.
Sadness – sad, sorry, disappointed, depressed, mournful, sorrowful, unhappy, morose, despondent, gloomy, cheerless, dismal, grim, tragic, somber, crushed, distraught
Shame – shame, guilt, contrite, disgraceful, embarrassed, mortified, chagrined, condemned, culpable.
In the exercise below you will see percentages after each emotion. These represent the feelings distribution percentages which are based on 100% according to the EQ Profile Instrument I use with many of my clients.
Using the research, Learning IN Action suggests an ideal range for a healthy balance is 50% when Joy and Love are combined. The other five categories of distressing emotions are similar, and the ideal range shows up at accessing Anger, Anxiety, Fear, Sadness, and Shame at 10% for each emotion making up the other 50%. These building blocks provide us tools to effectively manage ourselves amid complexity and chaos, build our tolerance, resilience, and adaptability, and give us the capacity to relate effectively to others.
Want to give it a try? Below is an exercise that may help you deepen your understanding of your emotions and then be able to recognize and lead others in understanding themselves more effectively.
Developing Choices and Options for Heightened Emotional Intelligence
Feelings are the ultimate driver of everything we do. Feelings are the part of our experience that defines the meaning of any given event and how important it is to us. Our interpretation of any event is first orchestrated by feelings, which is followed by our analysis and understanding of an event and movement toward action. Each emotion offers INFORMATION and a GIFT. The INFORMATION is what you are experiencing under stress. The GIFT is the action or direction that could interrupt the experience and be helpful.
Keep this worksheet somewhere where you are reminded of the seven emotions and their GIFTS and INFORMATION
Throughout your week, jot down some notes in the worksheet above when you are experiencing the emotions listed.
As soon as possible, after your experience of one of the charted emotions, write a few sentences about what happened in your journal or in the chart below if you choose to do this electronically. You can also use this exercise to prepare for a possibly stressful conversation.
Here are the emotions and the information and gift of each:
It Takes Practice…
The more time I spend in pursuit of my own growth around Emotional Intelligence, as well as facilitating leader growth around Emotional Intelligence, the more I hear the words of Aristotle ringing in my ears, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
This is a practice. It will never be done but we will be better humans for having the courage to practice.
Contact me if you would like to receive the exercise above in a worksheet format. I will also send you a more in-depth guide for how to use the INFORMATION and the GIFT of each emotion to further your growth.