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developing emotional intelligence - there's Information in the feeling

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Each day we will experience a whole range of emotions and feelings. Some we have a tendency to like and some a tendency to make us feel uncomfortable. There’s also a tendency for many people to want to push down or away from the latter feelings. In fact, it’s the only approach some people have. Broadening our emotional management toolkit can help on many levels. The power of the questions we ask ourselves is one area worth experimenting with. Here’s an example to get you going.

When you get that thought, which drives some uncomfortable feelings instead of pushing it away ask yourself the question “what’s the information in this feeling?”. This can help bring more objectivity to your outlook and increases the chance that you’ll put yourself in a position where you can do something constructive. To illustrate here are a few common examples of situations and the information the feeling could be providing.

  1. A feeling of dread about a meeting you are going to attend. What could the information be? I don’t understand what my role is here – possible action – clarify role for myself and communicate with others. Or, I’m underprepared – possible action – how can I adjust my calendar to prioritise more preparation time.

  2. A feeling of frustration that the ‘obvious’ point you are making is not being understood. What could the information be? I don’t understand the other person's position well enough to describe my point in their terms – action – ask more open clarifying questions before forming your view.

  3. A feeling of overwhelm that you have too much on. What’s the information? I could get sharper priorities – possible action – step back and clarify the objective criteria you’ll use to help you prioritise (and then use it).

Hopefully, you can see through these examples that the idea of this is not to push things down or away but to consider them with objectivity and use them as signals to do something constructive. The pushing down or away method works for some people short-term. In my experience, the downside is that it’s like holding a ball underwater. When you let go it comes out with force in an uncontrolled way.

Have an experiment with this and see what happens as a result. As always, I Iove to hear your feedback about how you get on.


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