All too often in life (and I include myself in this) our emotions can over ride our sense of reason, we as humans have a tendency to act in the moment, a wonderful characteristic attributed to us in the positive, however in the heat of the moment we can say and do things that create permanence. Take a few minutes to look back on your life and try to recall a time when you have been too hasty with an email, talked harshly to a loved one or slammed a door. In some cases it just requires a timely, sympathetic apology but more often than not that temporary emotion creates a lasting and permanent decision.
What purpose do our emotions serve? A question that one could write a thesis on, but simply put they serve to help us survive and thrive. Emotions motivate us to take action, they effect the decisions we make, allow us to understand others and some may say most importantly to understand ourselves. With such an established evolved process deep within our genetic make up it is easy to make decisions based on what we want, think and feel―or what our emotions tell us is the right thing, right now. But we have to be very careful not to be led by emotions. By understanding that emotional responses to situations are fleeting and recognising that making a decision based on them in the heat of the moment can be damaging we can control our actions and words.
One such method to help you back in the workplace is to take a tip from Abraham Lincoln. By the time he died, Lincoln had amassed stacks of flaming letters that verbally shredded his rivals and subordinates for their bone-headed mistakes. However, Lincoln never sent them. He vented his frustration on paper, and then stuffed that sheet away in a drawer. The following day, the full intensity of his emotions having subsided, Lincoln wrote and sent a much more congenial and conciliatory letter.
Your emotions are a valid representation of how you feel, no matter how intense—but that doesn’t mean that acting on them in the moment serves you well. Go ahead and vent, tap out your anger and frustration on the keyboard or write those thoughts down. Save the draft, place the letter in a drawer and come back to it later when you’ve cooled down. By then you’ll be rational enough to edit the message and pare down the parts that burn, or—even better—rewrite the kind of message that you want to be remembered by.
Information and influences cited from Dr. Travis Bradberry and Scott Watson.