4 Insights to Manage Emotions for Life Success

4 Insights to Manage Emotions for Life Success 150 150 Wally Hauck, PhD, CSP

As an employee engagement consultant, I am often called into help an organization resolve very complex conflicts.  The relationships have been damaged and emotions are high.  In my experience, the level of emotional intelligence of the involved parties plays a significant role in 100% of these situations.  I can safely claim that higher levels of emotional intelligence can prevent these complex conflicts from escalating and damaging the relationships.

Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence once said, “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand…no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”  My experience confirms this and, it begs the question, what can we do to improve our emotional intelligence and how can we therefore be more successful?

Emotional intelligence involves four very important skills. The first two involve our skills i.e. the awareness of our own emotions and the ability to express them appropriately. The second two involve the emotions of others i.e. the ability to recognize emotions with others and the ability to influence them to express them appropriately.

These are challenging skills that require effort to develop and we all can benefit from making an effort to continuously learn to enhance each.  That is why I want to share 4 key insights to help each of us continuously improve.

Moods are temporary so, avoid communication when emotions are negative

George S. Pransky, PhD., in his book The Relationship Handbook, helps us appreciate that moods are temporary perceptions of the world. Because they are temporary, Pransky advises us to wait when we are having negative feelings toward someone before we communicate. (George S. Prannsky, 1992)

Pransky is a marriage counselor. After advising couples over many years he advises we treat negative emotions as a signal to slow down, restore our positive energy, and think about changing our perspective. Temporary negative moods are an outcome of a certain perspective.  If we shift perspective, we can shift our mood.  Those couples who avoided communication and waited out the negative emotions had the most success in achieving long-lasting and happy relationships.

Blame is a victim’s response, not a leader’s

Imagine holding a bell. You shake the bell and it rings pleasantly.  What caused the ring?  Was it the bell or the clapper?  It’s a silly question misguided.  The sound came from the interaction between the two.  Both contributed.  Attempting to blame another person for a negative mood makes as much sense as asking “what caused the ring”.

The negative mood is asking us to stop and shift perspective.  Avoiding blame is a useful rule to follow during this evaluation period.  Better questions are, “what did I do to contribute to this negative perspective?  What can I do differently to change it?”

Notice the other and express empathy

Empathy is such a powerful tool and is often overlooked.  This is a tragedy.  Empathy helps us to influence the mood of others.  Empathy costs us nothing.  It is merely an expression that helps both parties remember they are human and are capable of negative feelings.  When we express empathy, we are not agreeing with another’s perspective of the world. We are simply relating as another human being who can experience a mood.

Empathy is the expression of understanding.  It acknowledges the existence of a mood and helps release any negative emotion thereby enabling logical discussion.  Calm logic can then lead to creating innovative solutions to complex problems.

In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman explains how negative emotions overwhelm the brain.  This is useful because it helped humans to survive.  Fear helps us to focus and decide to either fight or flee.  The ability and willingness to effectively express empathy releases the brain to focus on solutions and away from fear. (Daniel Goleman, 2002)

A leader’s mood influences others’ moods

A leader’s mood will influence the moods of others and therefore the leader’s mood can either improve performance of a team or damage it.  A leader’s ability to be upbeat in the face of challenges will help teams to overcome those challenges.

The emotional part of our brain (the limbic) is open loop meaning it can connect with others.  This enables humans to support each other in the face of challenging emotional situations.  Recent disasters such as the floods in Houston demonstrate the power of this open loop insight. People can console each other. People can sense the emotions of others and even influence them to change just by being there and managing a mood in the face of disasters.

Why do we congregate during funerals?  To console each other.  We facilitate healing just be being there and sharing emotional support for each other.  We savor the open loop.  We savor the connection with others. Why not use it to influence positive moods.


How do we enhance our emotional intelligence skills?  We must practice if we want to be more successful in life.  These four insights can help. For example, if we realize our moods are temporary and give ourselves a time to reflect; if we avoid communication during low moods; if we avoid blame and realize we are a contributor to our own perspectives; if we learn to provide empathy and realize it is a powerful tool for influencing others’ moods; and, if we realize how our moods can influence the performance of others we can continuously improve.  It requires effort and it is worth every bit of it if we want success.

Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

Daniel Goleman, R. B. (2002). Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School.

George S. Prannsky, P. (1992). The Relaitonship Handbook. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.