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Published on 14th February 2018

Emotional resilience or Emotional brilliance?!

By Angie Needle

Just thought I’d share my experiences in relation to emotional resilience. It’s a tricky and quite controversial subject, because there is a general expectation that everyone must and should hide their emotions when they are in the workplace.  Now, I do admit that I think men are better at this than women, probably because as children boys just have to toughen up quicker, but I also think it’s just the way some of us are.  (This did prompt a bit of a discussion with my husband, who suggested that men’s negative emotions in the workplace such as aggression were just deemed more acceptable).

Some of us are able to keep our emotions internal and some of us can’t. I am sure there is science behind it, but I thought I would share my own experiences because I would say that I am one of those where my emotions are out there for all to see. Happy or sad. I actually don’t like the phrase emotional resilience because it reinforces the message that having ‘an emotion’ in the workplace is a bad thing. If you are like me, then you’ll be great at enthusing teams, at getting people on board and excited about what lies ahead – you are also more likely to be aware of how others might be feeling and change your style to suit. Driving change and leading in organisations is often about hearts rather than minds, and this will be your sweet spot.  However, if you get this great bit of the emotional spectrum, then unfortunately you may also not be able to help showing signs of the negative ends of the spectrum which can include frustration, anger and the dreaded crying.

I have spent all of my career trying to fix my emotions so that all the negative bits are safely tucked away and you just get the fab bits of Angie. I’ve tried analysing what makes me trigger those emotions (for me it’s usually me taking criticism personally) and I’ve tried to stop having them (hugely exhausting!). But what I have learnt, is that the more competent and capable you feel, the more you decide not to care about what others think about you (because let’s be honest, they are not thinking anything about you, they are thinking about themselves), the easier it is to just shrug off those negative emotions. Or even better, not even have them in the first place.

What we emotional types do need to understand is that we have a huge impact on the ones who internalise their emotions. They just don’t know what to do with us, or how to deal with it. They can find it confusing, and teams who work for us can be wary because they just don’t know which version of us they are going to get on any given day. This is really important because being a consistent leader is crucial.

What I have also learnt is that it is ok to be me, the way I am, and if I don’t fit in the organisation or team I am in because they are all emotional dullards, then it is probably not the right fit for me. I always remember very fondly our new HR Director at a huge conference introducing herself said she was ‘a bit of a crier’, I thought ‘Wow! How honest is that, I’m staying!’

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Your stories whether you are like me or not… agree or disagree.  We could even set up an Emotionals Anonymous group (Emo Anon), where we can share stories about how we managed not to swear at people in meetings!

This is my first blog, so if it was in anyway useful let me know. Useful motivation to get me to write some more!  So please get in touch either respond below or you can email me at [email protected].

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