How to Develop Emotional Control

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What is Emotional Control?

Emotional Control refers to the ability to maintain personal composure during times of stress or pressure, when things are uncertain, or when faced with conflict or disagreement.

The Importance of Emotional Control

Emotional control is valuable for leaders and lay-workers alike. Whether it’s in the boardroom or on the assembly line, every organization can benefit from employees who are able to effectively channel their emotional control. In fact, research shows that leaders who heavily suppress their emotions are less satisfied in their work, more likely to want to leave their organization, and can have a negative impact on the work of their direct reports.

How to Practice Emotional Control On-the-Job

Would you like to begin developing your emotional control? Below are five on-the-job activities you can use to help you get started. We strongly recommend that you do not try all of these at once; start by picking one activity and pace yourself from there. Depending on your schedule it might only be feasible to do one activity per week. Note that some activities will also need to be repeated in order to help emotional control become a habit.

1. Name your emotions

If a leader can identify the emotions that they are experiencing (anger, joy, disappointment, overwhelm, etc.), they will maintain a greater level of personal awareness. Next, it is important to allow the emotion to be fully experienced in the body and then pass. While leaders may be tempted to suppress emotions, feeling the emotion and letting it subside is critical to emotional control.

2. When responding to a stressful event, pause and give yourself a moment to notice your reaction.

This momentary pause allows you to consider all relevant information before responding. This is especially important when handling conflict between employees. A leader who takes time before responding can consider all sides of an argument and respond with a problem-solving mindset, rather than an emotional one.

3. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness practice, such as conscious breathing or meditation, involves being aware and attentive to oneself and environment, and letting thoughts pass without judgment. Habituate mindfulness by allocating five minutes each day to deep breathing, allowing thoughts to pass as they come, or taking a walk in nature.

4. Pursue projects that push you outside of your comfort zone and demand performance under pressure

These projects will allow you to practice staying calm, making clear decisions, and communicating effectively under pressure.

5. Encourage feedback from direct reports

Leaders can develop emotional control by being open to feedback and criticism. Encourage your team to solicit feedback regularly, and practice responding in a thoughtful, composed manner.

Download the Emotional Control Competency Guide

These tips are a part of SIGMA’s Emotional Control Competency Development Guide. Download the free PDF below for a complete list of tips and tricks for developing this critical leadership skill.

How SIGMA Can Help

Since 1967, SIGMA consultants have helped thousands of organizations across North America develop their people potential and increase organizational effectiveness. Explore our assessments, coaching, and consulting services below, and contact us if you would like to speak about creating a custom plan for your organization. Develop your emotional control with SIGMA today.

Leadership Skills Profile – Revised™ (LSP-R) – SIGMA

Leadership Skills Profile –
Revised™ (LSP-R)

Take our flagship leadership assessment and see how you score on emotional control.

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Talent Development

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Coaching with a Consultant – SIGMA

Coaching with a
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Looking for More?

If you would like to speak with a consultant about what emotional control training looks like at your organization, contact us today. We are happy to share what we’ve learned from client experience and talk about the specific needs of your organization and your team.

Glen Harrison is an organizational transformation consultant and succession planning expert. Over the course of his career, Glen has worked with one-third of the Fortune 500 list and with every level of government in Canada and the United States. Having worked with numerous clients to build robust succession plans from the ground up, Glen has extensive experience in the application of SIGMA’s products and services to help organizations realize their people potential.

About the Author

Callum Hughson

Managing Editor

Callum is a member of the marketing team and utilizes his communications, marketing, and leadership development experience to create engaging and informative web content for a professional audience. A detailed editor and collaborator, Callum works with SIGMA’s coaches and consultants to deliver evidence-based thought leadership in the area of talent development.