Emotions and labels

This week seems to be the week to discuss all things emotional intelligence in the blogosphere. Two of particular note are this piece by Julia Drybrough and this one by Phil Willcox. As a side note, what Phil doesn’t know about emotions isn’t worth knowing. Check the guy out here.

So I want you today to think about the labels we put on our emotions. As we start to understand more about how emotions drive behaviour, we also start to get all dramatic about their power. We start to call emotions positive and negative. We start to call them useful and harmful. We start to lay claim of being in control.

Let’s move for a moment to talking about labels. Labels help us categorise the world. If I want to articulate myself I choose my words carefully enough to make myself understood. If you take for a moment the political rhetoric about poor people on benefits, listen to the language and articulation of those arguments. They are purposeful and serve only to drive certain emotions.

Because emotions drive behaviour.

Imagine then how intriguing it is when someone seems unaware of how they are affecting others through their actions, language and their behaviours. They shrug it off and exclaim “that’s your problem”. It happens a lot. And many of us may examine this and argue “they don’t know how to control their emotions”.

Emotions aren’t good or bad. They’re a survival instinct. They help prepare the body for action. They signal the presence of something that the body isn’t expecting. Emotions just are.

From the moment we are aware of an emotion affecting us, this is the moment we can take control of our being and our condition. But that level of awareness isn’t a natural default for everyone. Indeed it can be downright alien.

Yes you can give feedback to others, and have coaching sessions, and prepare performance reviews, but for some people, it’s just hard to understand that they’re not in full control of themselves.

Kind of gives change management a different perspective.


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

One thought on “Emotions and labels”

  1. Very interesting post – coincidently the #chat2lrn group just hosted a twitter chat this week on emotions and L&D. How learning can and should take emotions into account when designing learning/courses/workshops etc. It was a lively discussion about the positive and negative impacts of emotions. As is practice, the #chat2lrn group will post a blog prior to chat session to give us context and background. I suggest you take a look, good stuff! chat2lrn.wordpress.com Keep up the good work!

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