Do you really know what you’re feeling? We often use general emotions like stress or anger to label our feelings, but we should be digging a bit deeper. Having a more nuanced understanding of our emotions can help us to better address them. Gaining “emotional agility” can be the key to successful interactions with yourself and others. Susan David, faculty member at Harvard and author of Emotional Agility, shares three things you can do to identify and understand your emotions in a recent Harvard Business Review article.
- Branch out. When you experience a strong emotion, label it. Then, come up with two other words to describe your feelings. This may reveal deeper, more specific emotions underneath the obvious one you’re feeling.
- Measure your intensity. After you label your emotions, consider how strong they are and rate them on a scale of 1-10. Maybe you initially labeled yourself as angry, but after examining the intensity of your feelings you realize you’re merely annoyed.
- Write about it. Writing is a great way to process emotions. Studies show that writing about emotional experiences can increase both physical and mental well-being. Try this exercise: for 20 minutes, write about your emotional experiences over the past week, month, or year. It doesn’t matter if you use a computer or pen and paper, and you don’t even need to save the document – all that matters is that you get your feelings out.
Mastering emotional agility is a good way for leaders to stay mindful of your emotional states and practice RespectfulDo #5, “Get Your Shift Together.”