7 Ways to Deal with Emotional Issues
Emotional turmoil makes simple tasks complicated, easy tasks hard, and quick tasks slow. High emotion, boiling frustration, and hurt feelings inspire blame. Blame invites defensiveness. Defensiveness causes us to pile on other, perhaps unrelated, problems to prove our point.
Never introduce emotional issues unless you’re prepared to deal with emotion. Once emotions rise, deal with them. Address performance issues after.
Boiling emotions motivate but
make finding solutions complex.
The useful side of anger, for example, is it motivates me to address pressing issues and concerns I’ve buried. But, addressing issues in angry ways complicates the process. Diffuse anger then address issues.
Address emotions separate from issues.
Searching to solve issues while emotions are raw often becomes an excuse to fix people. Emotionally frustrated leaders point fingers. They start telling people why they acted the way they did or what’s wrong with them. Accusation invites defensiveness. Issues, otherwise solved simply, grow dark, personal, and complex.
7 Ways to deal with emotional issues:
- Always address emotions that boil over.
- Affirm emotion; solve issues.
- Self-validation never validates; accusation never motivates.
- Move quickly then slow down. Today’s appointment focuses on feelings, tomorrow’s on issues, for example.
- Stay focused on immediate issues. Past issues never clarify emotional situations. One issue is simpler than two. Stop shooting the process in the foot by making it a global rather than an individual event.
- Never determine solutions before conversations. Leaders who enter conversations with predetermined solutions don’t listen, they explain. Have you noticed how people love your explanations?
- Avoid, “That’s because,” and “You should.”
Bonus: Go with not against. When it feels like you’re pushing against someone during emotional conversations back down, listen and affirm. Ask, “How can we get where you want to go?”
How do you deal with emotional issues?
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A very good post indeed. Emotional issues generally affect all of us. Decisions based on emotion may not be right. But we tend to overlook such behavior and most take decision based on our emotion. There are two things here about the emotion. Emotion is based on intuition that does not follow logic. IT means any decision which is based on emotion is based on intuition and does not have logical inference. But logical decision does not follow emotion or intuition. But we are more prone to our emotional decision because we like it. And what we like does not necessarily be right or true. We need to understand this difference to deal with emotional issues.
We need to include external evidence and trend to deal with emotional issues. And we also need to question why do we need to stick to any decision, issues or preference. Over and above, we have to develop capacity to analyze and accept the reality. I agree with you that people with high emotion may not take right decision. Such decision might interest or satisfy decision maker but may not be right one.
Really valuable – thanks! People often become emotional when they have a very high level of personal capital in a product or project.. Somehow they come to a place where their identity becomes entwined with the progress/success/failure – so we walk a fine edge, moving people toward a high level of engagement, but not wanting their emotional attachments to create the potential of boil over. Often slowing the situation down by looking from a different perspective helps,,,
Thanks, Dan. Very timely. I’ve got 7 presentations to make over the next 90 days and they all relate to dealing with emotions in the context of family business. This is very helpful to my thinking. I’ll give “Leadership Freak” a shout out to all of them.
That sounds GREAT Anonymous, what are you gonna tell them?
Sorry Scott, I thought I was logged in, I’m Robert Caldwell. One presentation is entitled “The Tao of Family Business Relationships” where I use the yin/yang symbol to represent the two aspects present in all family business, the emotional and rational. If they are out of balance, there’s trouble brewing. The other one is being called “Family Relationship Dynamics.” The message is, How do you address relationship dysfunction in the heat of the moment?, described very well here by Dan.
Hi Robert, THAT sounds great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will look you up and learn what I can!
Scott oh yeah…..The Dude Abides…hehe so much to learn so little time!!!!!!!!!! ugh but a delightful ugh!!!!!!!
Great Post Dan,
Sometimes I wonder if besides the blessing of the disease of addiction I have if I got something wrong with me with my emotions.
Don’t worry I am not a psychopath, just way more logical than emotional.
I do feel, deeply and care overwhemingly but for some reason I can just see past the feelings so the emotions don’t stop me from forging ahead.
When I was a kid skiing the steepest slope in the south was always there! I was terrified and mother of one of my friends who was ski instructor just took me up there! She took me up there one day and PUSHED me off the top!!!!!!!! What I found was the exhiliration of going on despite the emotion! It was GREAT! I highly recommend not letting emotions stop you!
When I deal with others I treat them like I would like be treated. In AA and other 12 Step Fellowships we occasionally get asked to listen to another persons 5th Step. That is great way to learn how to listen.
Summary, listen empathetically, even though it may sound ridiculous to you it is important to them, ask questions, give them a warm loving, accepting place to dump their stuff, CARE, move on!
Having said that do not get all carried away where you forget to hold them accountable for what you expect them to do.
Have a good one Dan!
Thanks for the post. There are some good ideas here. I and a few other managers may soon be asked to manage a group that have not been managed before. Intellectually we believe they know they need the help but we are concerned about the emotions that will accompany the announcement. I think this post has helped to prepare me for that day.
Good tips. For me, the first step is to stop, pause, and be accountable for your own reaction, rather than project it on anyone else. Experience tells us that even tho a short term release of anger can spell short term relief , there is of residue that gets left behind which affects trust and relationships long term. Mindfulness and taking a curious and accepting approach to both my and the others reactions, as well as trying not to lock into them at the same level they’re being received, well, takes alot of practice, but is worth the effort.
That was a GREAT response…wow! If I could only be that on point.
Really great stuff.
The crossover of work and marriage skills! Here is where they meet. It’s not about just how you handle those of your employees, but those of your spouse as well. I wouldn’t ask my wife how to get here where she wants to go…but you get the idea.
Emotional conversations are always easier if you listen more and talk less. Venting can do wonders for those who need it. For those who aren’t used to having the “boss’ ear” they tend to do this off the top. Listen. Once they get used to it, they will run out of gripes and you’ll start finding the productive conversations.
Research shows that emotions are involved in all aspects of thought and behaviour. Emotions were present well before higher level reasoning and we cannot get away from them. Granted, most of the time our emotions affect behaviour in subtle ways but at other times they dominate. As you say, rather than trying to ignore emotions or somehow overpower their impact it is far better to develop one’s emotional intelligence. Thanks for the post.
I love “never determine solutions before conversations”- people do not love your explanations. Bravo Dan- you really really get it. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of listening- once again. This is the stuff of leadership.
Such a great blog and comments, I will add that as a conflict management coach, emotions are often evident in my work with leaders and others. What is important to clients – and why – is tucked underneath what comes out of their mouths at these times, Getting to it, releases it. For instance, it is common that when we are provoked we perceive a value or unmet need and/or aspect of our identity is(are) being undermined, challenged, or threatened.
So, I find that it is important for people to vent and actually name what they are experiencing (i.e. ‘what two words best describe the impact on you of this incident?’) before they are ready to move on. Otherwise, they will act on their situations same thoughts and feelings they had when they started to express their emotions.
Another question I find helpful after giving some time to listen and acknowledge is ‘what will it take for you to move past this now?’ or ‘what else is important for to express before moving on?’
I do think its very important to get to the “it” also. If there is a good degree of self-reflection the impact can be very beneficial. I would say though coming from a clinical behavioral background and based on my own personal experience on both sides of the issue that in the workplace it is important to not sound therapeutic.
I have done this and the response was. “so you’re my personal therapist now?” It almost permanently damaged the working relationship. I have used the same format, but I always make sure it is couched in language and phraseology that fits the situation.
True….since intelligence doesn’t work under emotions, its better to abstain any actions under emotions. “Intellectual clarity and Emotional Maturity” basic esdentials for a Decision Maker….
So true. A few extra thoughts:
– validate the emotion with, ‘Sounds like you are feeling ….’ Keep it simple and non-judgmental.
– ask, ‘Despite the emotion, what progress has been made on the issue?’
– ask, ‘On a scale of 1-10 within the project, where are you now?’ then, “What would you see yourself doing to move up the scale by a half or a quarter point?’
This helps the person begin to resolve the issue for themselves. I stress, begin!
Emotions always cloud the issues. I try to remember that emotional outbursts are related to personal perceptions of a situation or event and the person is entitled to their own perceptions, not to say that their perceptions are necessarily reality or the facts of the matter. You can’t tell someone that the way they are feeling is not true, they are feeling it. When discussing feeling I try not to bring facts into the conversation. I try to preface every statement with “I feel…” or “When you do that it makes me feel….”
When discussing facts I try to keep away from feelings and stick to facts, short direct sentences that stay on point, and lots of focus on the other individual, what would you have done in that situation? What would you like to see as a resolution to this issue? Avoidance of long explanations & lecturing are critical people tune out and return to formulating a new topic or how they are going to respond. Also key is to be genuine in your attempt to solve the problem and never promise to do something as a solution if you can’t deliver.