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Monday, June 20, 2011

Do emotions use you or you use emotions?

Here is a case of Pratham:

Pratham, with a four year experience, works in a company. When i met him in Jan 2011, he wanted to work with this company for a long time. However, when he called me in April, he wanted me to help him find a new job. When i asked him why, he said he is leaving because he had got a "B' rating in the year end appraisal. I was surprised because B rating is second best rating in his company. When i probed further about his decision of leaving, he said " Amit, my colleague, is not as good as he is, but he however has got A rating. So how can i stay in a company which does not value talent'.

Emotions are using Pratham. Emotions are important 'signals' to tell us that something is wrong. Like temperature indicates the status of physical state, our emotions indicate the status of our mental state. But high temperature does not decide the treatment to be taken, because high temperature may also result due to 'high infection'. So too is emotion. Emotion, like temperature, cannot decide the course of action to be taken.

But when emotions use us, emotions are used as a 'criteria' to decide the course of action. When emotions are used as 'input' to take decisions, we use emotions. When emotions use us, we react like Pratham. When we use emotions, we respond after weighing other inputs. When we use emotions, emotions are the source of understanding, but when emotions use us, they compel us to act!

From the viewpoint of career, when emotions use us, we stop learning about our 'Self'- who we are, what we like and value. When we use emotions instead, we name the emotion and find the underlying belief that is causing the emotion. For instance, if Pratham uses his emotion, he may find that his emotion is 'anger towards his company' for not recognising his talent. ( or it could be anger towards his boss).

With some probing, Pratham may be able to articulate his underlying belief of what 'talent' means to him. By articulating his belief in accurate words, he may be able to understand that his belief of talent is different than what what his company (or boss) believes?. For instance the company/boss may believe that Amit is 'talented' because he is a better 'team worker' than Pratham, although Pratham may be intelligent than Amit. These differing views of talent will help Pratham understand the priorities of his company/boss, and therefore will help him correct his career course.

With this crucial learning, Pratham is likely to make fewer blunders later in his career. On the other hand, because emotions are using him, Pratham has missed all this learning and can make the same mistake again and again. I have narrated one event in Pratham's life. Multiply this with hundred/thousand such events, and you will realise the importance of Pratham using emotions (instead of being used by emotions) on his career progress!

Emotions are the biggest source of both blunders and opportunities in a student/professional's life. However, even a coach cannot help you separate between the two if you cannot process emotions. Like Pratham, you will be blind to your own actions ! Unless Pratham learns to use emotions, he is victim of circumstance. Instead of using coach to understand himself better, he uses coach to justify his actions or to control the damage that is resulting from his actions. This is another reason why professionals cannot use career advice of a coach.

Using emotions means taking three steps. It means learning to name the emotion i.e understanding the difference between two emotions, say 'anger' and 'frustration' ( as in Pratham's case!) . Second step is to unravel the underling belief of emotion by peeling layers one above another. Third step is to undertake reality check of belief that will help you decide whether to continue or modify the belief.

One of the biggest unintended consequence of Using emotion is your ability to understand your self bit by bit from daily events of your life ( in contrast to attending retreats or going to Himalayas). Only after you understand your Self more accurately, you can take charge of your career course, instead of reacting and following other's course.

Where do you stand in your life? Do you use emotions or do emotions use you?

Post script: If emotions use you, this is the second FAT - failure attracting trait - that hinders your career progress.


abhi13041980 said...

Amazing article. I do recall my past experiences where I have made the same mistakes. Channelizing your emotional energy in the right direction can help fix the blunders done in past.

Thanks for sharing this.


Anonymous said...

I have heard about this head versus heart talk. It is said that one should always listen to heart. Is that wrong?

Sanjiv Bhamre said...

You have asked a fantastic question. I wish you were not an anonymous questioner...

If your 'emotional thermometer' is well calibrated, then your heart will not give you 'confused signals' and you could rely on it to a very substantial level. Until then, it is safer to use 'heart inputs' as one of the input, instead of 'listening to heart alone".