Mastering emotions are a tough nut to crack, especially for the emotionally volatile people like me. The key to manage emotions is to not allow your reactions to overshadow your responses. Reactions, just like reflex actions, are instinctive, without giving a conscious thought whereas, responding is a calculated reaction. It takes into consideration the desired outcome of the interaction.

Reacting is emotional, responding is emotional intelligence.

A reaction is driven by the beliefs, and biases. A reaction is survival-oriented and a defense mechanism. Often a reaction activates the flight or fight mode, and makes us take drastic actions. These actions feel justified in the heat of the moment but causes regret later.

A response on the other hand usually comes more slowly. It weighs the long term effects and stays in line with your core values. A response is based on information from conscious and unconscious mind. Having emotional intelligence elevates a reaction to a response.

Mastering Emotions | five dimensions of emotional intelligence

Self-awareness: Understanding our true emotions is a prerequisite to develop emotional intelligence. Most of the times we lie ourselves about how we feel. We blame for our failings on others. Being self-aware enables us to recognize what role we play in all situations. Acknowledging the situation is where the solving begins.

Self-regulation: The ability to regulate our emotions as per situations are equally important. We might not be able to control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to our circumstance. At the end of the day, we are accountable for our actions. This doesn’t mean that we can not feel sad or mad but rather requires us to determine for how long.

Motivation: What outcome do you want from that particular situation determines the motivation. If giving them a piece of your mind is what you want, then reaction is perfect. However, if your goal is to influence them and bring them on the same page then you might want to consider “think before you speak” thought process.

Empathy: Empathizing goes a long way. We do not know what the other person is going through. Instead of reacting, if we take a pause and try to put ourselves in their shoes, we will connect better and make the other person feel cared for. The more we consider others, the better we are at understanding others, leveraging diversity and developing others.

Social skills: This is the major hurdle that independent introverts come across. A response requires communication, leadership, conflict management, and collaboration. If an individual has a fly solo attitude, it can take significant amount of time to develop the above mentioned qualities.

The bottom line is, you must become more aware of how your emotions drive your decisions. Understanding that will improve your relationships, your productivity, and your possibilities. There is no sharp line between “react” and “respond.” The distinction is quite fuzzy but the secret sauce of good communication lies right in the middle.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.” — Robert K. Cooper


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