How much do you think your emotions are involved in driving your performance?
Some people are very emotional – always shouting or getting angry at the slightest provocation. Others get upset and cry. Other people try to keep their emotions in check and focus on doing a good job in a reliable yet dispassionate manner.
Emotions, however, are a fundamental part of everything that we do. As you read this article you will be experiencing an emotional response. How (and what) you are feeling and the emotions that you are experiencing will be due to a whole host of factors and will drive how you behave. These emotions will be influenced by what is happening in your life, what is happening around you, the influences that other people are having on you, your interest in the article and the subject matter, your experiences, etc., etc.
Hopefully, the subject matter will be of interest to you or you may be intrigued by it. How it is presented and the way it is written will influence whether you read the full piece or skim to the end looking for any relevant points. If not, you probably won’t have got this far!
If it makes sufficient impact you may tag it and reread it later or save it for future reference. If the article resonates with you in a particular way, it may be life changing prompting you to think and your emotions more deeply and reading more about the subject from other sources.
The emotional response may include elements of boredom, frustration, guilt, interest, fascination, excitement, curiosity, happiness, satisfaction, etc.
Whatever emotions you are experiencing, they are going to change over the next few seconds in tiny, unrecognisable ways or they may lurch into a completely recognisable emotion.
These changes in emotions are ongoing influenced by
- your personality
- your psychological state
- your physiology and many other factors that affect the internal mechanisms of your body.
If you are feeling unwell, if you are thirsty or you need the toilet there will be an emotional component in how you choose to respond.
Your emotions can be influenced by how you are responding through your senses to your immediate environment, to other people – what they say and do, and to many other external factors that affect you. For example, you will experience an emotional response if it is too cold or too hot or if people are interrupting you or are making too much noise.
So your internal state of mind is being influenced all the time. Your brain does an extremely good job of working to make sense of everything, filtering out most of the information, so that you only become consciously aware of anything that is relevant.
Your emotions are able to help you to make better, more informed choices. They signal to you that you need to take action and can provide the motivation and impulse for you, and others around you, to take this action. Emotions are also involved in controlling your learning.
There is no general taxonomy of emotions. Due to the subjective nature of each emotion, they are difficult to describe and define as your emotional response to a situation will be different to mine. Sometimes these emotions cannot be rationalised – you may feel an emotion just because you do!
Your emotions blend together and are in constant flux. So if you concentrate for too long on one particular emotion and how it makes you feel it will change into something different.
Your behaviour is a direct response to your emotional state although if the emotion can be felt without the corresponding behaviour then that behaviour is not essential to the emotion.
To try to work better with your emotions reflect on them, monitor them and blend them in with your thinking. Stay open to feelings identifying how you feel and how others are feeling.
Detecting real emotions as opposed to fake emotion is a good start. Actors and actresses are very good at portraying emotions masking their true emotional state. They are also very good at projecting their emotions in a way that can have an emotional impact on the observer. Look how your emotions are affected by good drama, by music and by art and what these changes mean for you.
Recognise what events are likely to trigger emotional responses and how they combine into complex blends progressing over time and changing from one to another. Your understanding of emotions can be improved by providing a rich emotional vocabulary for greater precision in describing feelings and blends of feelings.
Working with emotions is not easy. Understanding yourself and how you work with your emotions is the key to better self-management and how they affect your performance. You will then be in a better position to begin to understand how other people are affected by and how to work with their emotions.
Click here for more information about emotional intelligence and working with emotions.
[The author has the rights to the images – purchased from iStockphoto and modified.]