Applying Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Rewrite your emotional Script

If you peel into your emotional onion deeply enough, you will find that many of your emotions are caused by the interpretations you make of the world. These interpretations lay down a script for your emotions to follow. You do not need to be a helpless extra in a screenplay written and directed by your emotions. You largely write your own script. Make the right changes in your thinking, and you can re-script your emotions.

To do this:

  • Learn the ABCs of emotion
  • Curb your demands
  • Judge people fairly
  • Argue with your bad moods

Learn the ABCs of Emotion

“It really made me feel so depressed.” When we use such type of phrase, we place the responsibility for our feelings on circumstances and other people, over whom we have only very limited control. By giving them this responsibility, we give up the power to mold our own emotional destiny. To regain this power, we need to take account of the ABCs of emotion:

  • Adversity
  • Belief
  • Consequence

Two people may experience the exact same problem or Adversity (A) and yet feel very differently about it. This is because the problem doesn’t automatically trigger an emotional Consequence (C). Between the A and C there is a B—an interpretation or Belief about the problem. An extreme negative interpretation of a problem or person—for example, “What a catastrophe!” or “What a rude!”—will usually lead to an extreme negative feeling.

Two types of negative thinking people often upset themselves after are

  1. Making demands and
  2. Making biased judgments

Curb Your Demands

You might be thinking that you never make demands, but the truth is that if you are like most people then you do make demands, at least in your mind, of yourself, others, and the world. You may demand that you succeed, that others treat you as you wish to be treated, or that life be simpler, easier, or fairer than it is.

We all sensibly want to do well, be treated well, and have good lives, and we rightly feel sad and frustrated when these desires aren’t fulfilled. But we often go further, demanding these things and sinking into depression, anger, or apathy if we don’t get them.

We make these demands by thinking in shoulds, oughts, can’ts, musts, and have tos, e.g., “I have to make this sale, I’ll just die if don’t,” “She ought to be grateful to me—how dare she not appreciate all I’ve done for her,.”

Making Demands of Ourselves

When we merely want, desire, or strongly prefer to succeed at a project, we feel motivated to succeed, and if we fail, we feel frustrated and disappointed. But if we also demand success of ourselves, then we are anxious about doing well and afraid of failure, and when our nervousness prevents us from living up to our own unyielding standards, we feel depressed, guilty, and self-hating

Making Demands of Others

Similarly, when we merely want others to treat us as we wish to be treated, we feel frustrated and irritated when they do not. But if we demand perfect sweetness from them, then we feel angry—or even enraged—when they fail to provide it.

We are all familiar with the fact that angry people are demanding, but few of us realize that it is demandingness that creates anger, not the reverse. Demanding what we want from others makes us angry, and it can also make us depressed or anxious. Give up your demands and you give up your extreme negative feelings.

Making Demands of Life

And when we just want—even want strongly—for life to become easier or fairer, we feel frustrated when it doesn’t. But if we also demand these things, then we feel completely discouraged and demotivated if life doesn’t accommodate us.

Unmanageable Anger

Unmanageable anger can be dangerous. If you experience severe anger, feel that you can’t control your rage, or feel like doing someone harm, you should seek professional mental health assistance in addition to using the strategies outlined in this course.

Judge People Fairly

Human beings naturally tend to unfairly judge and attach labels to others, especially those who have been unkind to them. Don’t fall into this trap! Distinguish between the person and his or her behavior. For instance, the fact that someone is in your face behaving rudely now does not mean that he or she always has and forever must behave that way—it does not make him or her a rude.

After all, no one is rude to everyone at all times, but everyone is rude to someone sometimes. So, if rude behavior made people rude, then we would all be rude—and there would be no special stigma to this person being one!

The truth is that while rude behavior undoubtedly exists, rude people do not. Mentally labeling people rude (or worse!) will provoke you to anger and sabotage your efforts to deal with them calmly, cheerfully, and effectively. But adopting a charitable and realistic view of others can only make your job and your life easier—and more pleasant.

Argue with Your Bad Moods

How do you argue with a bad mood? By challenging the unrealistic negative thoughts that produce it. If demand thinking makes you anxious, then you can argue yourself out of your anxiety by disputing your demands.

One way to do this is by asking questions. After you have successfully used challenging questions to show yourself that your demands—your musts, shoulds, oughts, and have tos—are unreasonable, restate them as realistic preferences-“I want . . . ,” “I wish . . . ,” “I would prefer . . . .” In this manner, you may write the thoughts again that script your emotions.

Giving Up Your Demands

The ABC model of emotions was developed by the renowned psychotherapist Albert Ellis. Ellis saw that people usually enrage or depress themselves by thinking in demands. According to Ellis, demand thoughts are almost always unreasonable and unrealistic, and this is their Achilles’ heel—the flaw you can exploit to eliminate them. By discovering why your demands are unrealistic and transforming them into preferences, you can make your emotions appropriate to the challenges you face.

For example, imagine you are dealing with a customer who has treated you rudely. If you start to anger yourself by thinking something like, “He can’t say that to me—he has to give me more respect,” you might take a short break and counter your demand by thinking something like: “What sense does it make to say that this customer can’t say what he just said? If he really couldn’t say it, he wouldn’t have! And what Law of Nature says he has to show me whatever amount of respect I choose?

I would like him to treat me more respectfully; but he’s not doing it, so there is obviously no eternal law that says he must. Too bad! Maybe when I land a customer service job in Heaven, my customers will be perfect angels. But not till then! Now, how can I best resolve this unpleasant situation with this very fallible, human customer, and move on to something I’ll find more pleasant?”

If you think in this sensible, calming way, then even when a person, or life itself, treats you unfairly, you can at least be fair to yourself by not riling yourself up in self-defeating anger.

Asking Disputing Questions

Combat your disturbing thoughts with challenging questions. For example, if you made yourself anxious by thinking, “I absolutely must do well in this presentation,” then you may respond somewhat like this, “Why should I do well in the presentation? What is the evidence that I must? I want to do well, of course. But how does it follow that because I want something I have to have it? Who made my wish the Universe’s command?”