Three Tips for Mastering Emotional Agility at Work

Three Tips for Mastering Emotional Agility at Work

At its core, emotional agility is about being aware of and managing your emotions healthily.

It may feel like you’re constantly being pulled in a million different directions in today’s fast-paced environment. Whether you’re expected to complete several tasks simultaneously or manage a continuous stream of demands and requests from coworkers, bosses and clients, staying focused and productive might be difficult. Rest assured, emotional agility can help you to be more resilient in the face of stress and more adaptable to change.

What is emotional agility?

The term “emotional agility” was first introduced by psychologist-coaches Susan David and Christina Congleton in a Harvard Business Review article in 2013. It has been dubbed the “management idea of the year” and the “next emotional intelligence”. Emotional agility is the ability to accept and respond to the seven basic emotions—joy, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, contempt and disgust—as they arise. Being emotionally agile means being mindful when changing or maintaining your behavior according to your emotions so that you can live by your goals and values. 

With emotional agility becoming an increasingly important skill in the workplace, it is crucial to focus on the four key aspects of emotional agility: self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy and effective communication. Emotionally agile employees can maintain positive relationships with co-workers, bosses and clients in the workplace. They’re better able to cope with stress and setbacks. They’re also more likely to be proactive and innovative.

So, how can you become more emotionally agile at work? Here are a few tips:

Recognize your emotional triggers and patterns

We all have emotional triggers and patterns that can affect our behavior in the workplace. There are a few different ways to go about this. Take some time to think about past circumstances that have caused you to become emotional. What were the circumstances and your response? Who was involved, and what was said or done? 

According to research by Totaljobs, one in three emotional triggers are caused by a coworker, while only two in ten are triggered by work. Hence, it’s people, but not tasks, that are causing the most problems. If certain people or situations consistently trigger negative emotions, try to avoid them. If there are certain times of the day when you tend to be more emotional, see if there are any tweaks you can make to your schedule or routine to help manage your emotions better during those times. 

Recognizing these triggers and patterns is the first step towards emotional agility—being able to acknowledge and act effectively on any emotional response, regardless of the situation. 

Communicate effectively with others

In order to communicate effectively with others, it is important to be emotionally agile. This means being aware of your own emotions and those of others as well as being able to regulate them effectively. It also involves understanding and responding to the needs of others. 

According to David, when leaders are comfortable with uncomfortable feelings, they can create a psychologically safe workplace in which employees feel secure enough to reveal their emotional truth. When everyone is on the same page emotionally, communication and collaboration are much easier. As a result, workplaces that encourage emotional agility tend to be more successful overall. 

Be open to change  

Change can be a difficult thing to navigate, especially in the workplace. Be it new policies or shifting priorities, changes can bring up a complex set of emotions that may sometimes feel overwhelming. However, one key to successfully navigating change is emotional agility. This involves being flexible, open-minded and willing to approach challenges with creativity and resilience. In addition, emotional agility also requires having a growth mindset and seeing failures as opportunities for learning and growth. With these skills in mind, it becomes easier to embrace change than resist it, leading to more positive professional and personal outcomes. 

Hopefully, with these tips, you can learn to navigate your emotional experiences and stay focused on your goals in the workplace. Emotional agility is a key skill for success, so start developing yours today!  

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Header image courtesy of Pexels  


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Nidhi Singh
A self-confessed Bollywood lover, travel junkie, and food evangelist. I like traveling and I believe it is essential to take your mind off the daily monotony. I’ll be reporting on stories from Asia's entrepreneurial ecosystem and can’t wait to get going!


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