Are your emotions tripping you up?

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In the workplace you need to be able to manage your emotions in order to achieve the best outcomes. Studies have shown that people who handle their emotions and the emotions of others, those who have a high emotional intelligence, produce better results. 

Emotions affect you in many different way. Frustration, anger or fear may take the focus away from what you are doing. Feeling threatened can hold you back and you may not get the results you want. A project managers emotions can influence those around them through, motivating or demotivating a team, impacting negotiations with suppliers or changing the relationship with a client.

Emotions can kick off a number of reactions such as thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We often see anger as a reactive behaviour. The reaction can also be physical. Some people will go red, cry or have a twitch and in its extreme form where the emotion produces extreme stress, physical and mental illness is possible.

Emotional responses, however, are not all bad if we can channel them in a positive way. Tensions can lead to more focus and increased performance. Being calm when provoked can display strength. The energy from emotions can be powerful and when managed be used to increase your success. 

In order to manage them, we must first understand them.

So how can you identify how your emotions affect you?

Try the following:

1 - Make a note of those things that affect your emotions. Whether it is anger when reading an email, a senior manager’s comment, or making your own mistake.  As a project manager what annoys you? Someone not delivering on time, someone not trying or someone talking a lot and disturbing others?

2 - Identify the triggers that caused your emotion. If you don’t recognise what triggered the emotion review what has happened in the day up to that point. It may not be a person that causes the emotion. It may just be something that seems not to be linked, such as no tuna sandwiches available for lunch. It may also be someone who has annoyed you earlier and you end up taking it out on someone else, having unknowingly transferred your perceptions to another person.

If you find it impossible to identify the trigger, make a note in case it happens again and you can then reflect back and compare.

3 - Check for patterns in your reactions and identify your emotional strengths and weaknesses. If you react the same way to the same triggers getting unfavourable results then the perceptions and reactions of others won’t change. If you respond defensively each time someone questions you on whether you are going to deliver to budget, the perception is that you will not. This may be an emotional response to the question. This may be a pattern based on who is asking, past experience or lack of information and not a reflection of the status.

If you find it difficult to identify your emotions you may wish to keep a journal of your emotions for a while. Ask yourself at regular intervals, what am I thinking? Follow this with what am I feeling?

The journal can be as simple as recording emoticons.

If you are being effected emotionally to a point where you feel your stress is at a dangerous level it is important that you seek help.

You may also wish to read about: 

“Does your ‘ideal project manager’ look something like this?”


Posted by Eleri Evans on 8th Sep 2015

About the Author
Eleri is the director of Trans4rm Ltd, delivering people development solutions. These include open programmes for "Developing Personal Identity as a Project Manager", "The Emotionally Intelligent Project Manager" and "Mental Toughness for Project Managers". Eleri is secretary for the People SIG (2015-2016) and is lead for the research around Emotional Intelligence and Behaviours that has approved funding from the APM. Eleri has a track record of over 20 years delivery in project management delivering change (people, business and technology) as a platform of knowledge to support the programmes she delivers.

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