Three Steps For Preventing Emotions From Impacting Decision Making
Emotions are powerful. They dictate your mood and, if left unchecked, compel you to react instead of responding to situations, events, and people.
Gaining control over your emotions will enable you to become mentally stronger and empower you to respond to situations, events, and people instead of automatically and emotionally reacting to them. This is particularly true for leaders, as emotional hijacking leads to bad decisions, poor thinking, and less-than-optimal outcomes.
While it is important to recognize and acknowledge your feelings and emotions, it is more important to recognize, acknowledge, and deeply understand that your feelings and emotions do not have to control you.
When your emotions get you down, especially when you need a clear head for making decisions or complex thinking, the three best things you can do are:
- Label your emotions. Labeling how you are feeling can take a lot of the heat and hurt out of the emotion. Most important, labeling your emotions helps you to pause and consider how these feelings may be affecting your decisions and thinking at that moment.
- Reframe your thoughts. Pause and consider the emotional filter through which you are viewing a situation, event, or person. If you are in a good mood, is this causing you to misinterpret information too positively? If you are in a negative emotional state, is this causing you to misinterpret information too negatively? An email with positive feedback from your boss does not necessarily translate into a job promotion or a raise. Likewise, an email of criticism from your boss does not necessarily mean you are on the road to being fired. Reframing your thoughts means taking the judgment out of them and developing a more realistic point of view.
- Engage in a mood booster when in a negative emotional state. Take a walk outside. Occupy yourself with a few moments of mindfulness. Call a friend, family member, or even a colleague to talk about something pleasant (but no complaining!).
One of the best ways to prevent stress, especially emotional stress, from impacting decision making and thinking is to regularly stop and ask yourself this one simple question:
In what situations and interpersonal interactions do I regularly find my emotions and reactions working against me and my best interests?
Truly understanding the answer to this question — and then taking the three proactive steps above to prevent emotional hijacking in such situations and interactions — is a sure-fire route to better decisions, better thinking, and better outcomes.
This article is partially excerpted from my award-winning book Better Decisions Better Thinking Better Outcomes: How to go from Mind Full to Mindful Leadership, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. The book is the recipient of a Silver Award from the Nonfiction Authors Association for bringing “a comprehensive plan of action for improving life through recognizing decision-making patterns that don’t serve us well, don’t enrich our lives, and don’t bring us to our goals and dreams.”