It all started with a dill pickle and an underwear drawer.
Okay, the situation actually started before said pickle and said drawer. And I was the instigator.
Turning back the clock to when I was about ten years old, I keenly recall having a heated brouhaha with my oldest sister Mary Ann. I don’t remember the reason for the quarrel but it most likely had something to do with her wielding a dose of big-sister power over me that didn’t sit well on my end.
What happened next was not my finest moment.
Rather than cool down from the conflicted situation or seek the advice of my parents, I snuck into the kitchen, cracked open the refrigerator and snatched up a big gherkin out of the pickle jar. I then slithered onward to our bedroom, opened Mary Ann’s underwear drawer and planted the pickle front and center. Oh, I felt vindicated. That is, until she discovered the green giant of a pickle first thing the next morning – with a loud scream. I guess there could have been a better way to deal with my frustration from our argument.
So what’s my point? We humans are equipped with basic feelings that include fear, sadness, anger, happiness and surprise. Keeping them in check is a must do. The emotional intelligence company TalentSmart conducted research with more than a million people as subjects, and found that 90 percent of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.
As a business owner and a leadership coach, I know all too well that positively channeling one’s emotions is an essential skill for both career and life success. How can we lead others if we cannot lead ourselves in times of stress, conflict and difficulty?
Here are four practical strategies for managing our emotions:
When an upsetting event occurs, stop and take deep breaths for at least a minute or two instead of blurting out or acting out. Becoming unglued or saying the wrong thing is the result of reacting rather than responding.
We have absolute power to manage our actions, words and behaviors. Losing control of our emotions means giving up our power to another person or situation.
Conflict and disappointment are a part of life. How we respond to them reflects our true character. Decide to take the high road when challenges occur (and they will occur!).
We all have needs. When one of your emotional buttons is pushed, do your best to remain calm. Articulate your needs rather than point fingers at others.
I am a huge advocate of teaching children how to positively channel and work through their emotions. Imagine how our homes and businesses would improve with a focus on skills training in this area. One thing is for sure, had I honed my emotional acumen early on, I would have responded to that argument with my sister on a higher level – sans pickle.
Here’s wishing you peace and productive emotions!
Kathleen DuBois is president of Progressity, Inc., a strategic marketing firm based in Washington, DC and Charleston, WV specializing in small businesses and large nonprofits. Visit them on the web at Progressity.com.