Simply put, regulating your emotions is handling the ups, downs, and pressures of your role, to get back into an unbothered state where you can do your best work. Remaining calm, cool and collected when challenges arise demonstrates that we are emotionally stable.

Why does this matter?

Emotional regulation is not about putting on a poker face and looking happy, whilst suppressing any negative feelings. It is all about acknowledging what is happening to you emotionally and working with those feelings, so that you are free to choose your response to a situation, without these emotions controlling you. As a result, it:

  • Cuts down on workplace hostility, since stressed employees are significantly more likely to exhibit workplace aggression.
  • Helps people get along better since the way you ‘show up’ determines the way people feel, shaping the extent to which they can engage.
  • Emotions can be opportunities because how you ‘show up’ impacts pretty much everything about the outcome of a situation.

Is this one of your strengths?

  • “I find it easy to regulate my emotions—there is a time and place for everything.”
  • “I pick and choose when to sweat and when worrying might hinder my progress. I don’t let everything get to me.”
  • “I move forward from minor incidents and can let things go.”

Or is this an opportunity for growth?

  • “That person just makes my blood boil.”
  • “I just can’t take it anymore — I don’t see straight when I’m snowed under.”
  • “I can’t rest until this project is thoroughly finished.”
  • “I am cursed. Problems keep cropping up.”

Tips to develop emotional regulation

Emotional regulation improves resilience because it allows us to continue to function while working through challenging experiences. It is also a skill that can be learned and practised. Here are some tips to develop emotional regulation:

  • Be aware of your triggers.

Find out what bothers you and triggers your unwanted emotions and try to minimise exposure to these things. However, keep in mind that a little discomfort is good for growth! It’s how you deal with the situation that counts.

  • Don’t suppress your emotions.

Research shows that suppressing negative emotions doesn’t work in the long run, try acknowledging and expressing these emotions, in doing so you will be seen as more authentic.

  • Stop your thoughts.

You can control your thoughts by saying “Stop!” to that negative self-talk. Next time you notice your thoughts going down an unwelcoming or destructive path, try to challenge those negative inner thoughts and build confidence.

  • Shift your focus.

All the little things we think about add up into our moods so when you find yourself concentrating on the small stuff that gets you down, shift your focus to a positive memory, or anything that gives you a neutral or positive feeling.

Recognise that present emotions do not dictate future actions; it’s up to you to choose how you want to respond. Try out the different tips one by one. As you do, you will be gradually building up your emotional regulation skill set and becoming more resilient as a result.

Karl Grech is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Helping his clients enhance how they connect, influence, and inspire others. Karl can be reached at coaching@karlgrech.com or visit www.karlgrech.com  to learn more.

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