Don’t let your emotions control you

We all get stressed out from time to time no matter where we are in life.  The big challenge is how to deal with those situations to achieve the best outcome for all involved.  As we grow older, we generally get better at handling the tough situations but there are seldom silver bullets that lead to perfect outcomes.  Let’s look at a few situations that most of us experience from time to time.

A new email shows up on your screen that is the exact opposite of the new plans the team agreed on when we were all together a few weeks ago. You have worked on this project non-stop for the last few weeks and are now incensed at this change in direction. Your blood pressure is rising. You start typing a response to show that this new direction is crazy and that the original plan is best. You may not be using obscenities but your tone is pretty nasty. All finished and ready to send the email. STOP!  “Sleep on it.” By the next morning you will have had time to think about it. You may not send the email but if you do I guarantee you will tone it down. At this point whatever you do will be less emotional and more professional which will most likely be better for your career.

A friend of mine was recently involved in a prolonged business negotiation about the future of the company. There were many points of view and reaching consensus seemed to be nearly impossible. The discussions had been going on for nearly a year and emotions were running high. Finally, the partners hit on what seemed to be a solution and then a few hours later one of the partners got emotional and wanted to back out.  But he stopped, thought about it and slept on it.  The next morning, he had calmed down and they went forward with the agreement. When you get emotional in business discussions it is time to back away, calm down, postpone action if you can, and just “sleep on it.”

From time to time, you will also run into difficult situations in your life away from work. Whether those conflicts are with friends, neighbors, children, parents or even your spouse try to apply the same “slow down and let’s think about it” technique. When a tough issue hits, you might try “That’s interesting – let me think about it for a while” which automatically gives you time to think and maybe get advice from someone else.  In the long run anything you can do to defuse stressful situations can lead to calmer discussions which generally produce better outcomes. Try to remember the magic words “Sleep on it.”

There will always be stressful situations in your business life and in your personal life.  The challenge is always to ask yourself how I will deal with it. When you stay emotional you likely will say and do things that you may soon regret. Plus, the decisions you make in a state of high stress can often be the wrong ones.

None of us are perfect.  When I was younger on more than one occasion I said and did things in high stress situations that I regret. Over time I have disciplined myself to stay calm and think things out and it works. You will be most successful when you control your emotions.


published Nashville Business Journal

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  1. Thanks for the reminder, Joe! I can recall a mentor of mine sharing similar advice after reading an email I cc’d him on while at TSC. I took his advice to leave the email in my “Draft” folder and wait to send it on the next shift if I was “hot” when I wrote it. There ended up being several unsent emails a year in that folder. Still use your approach to this day and it works.

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