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Emotional Intelligence & Decision Making

We often hear people say that emotions do not have a place in decision making. We use words like ‘practical’ , 'rational', and 'realistic’ to describe what effective decision making should be like.

Now, take a moment to think about making decisions while being completely out of touch with your emotions or being too consumed by them.

Let us take two workplace examples to understand this better!

Zoey is a team leader and is constantly overloaded with work. One day, a colleague asks them to take on an additional project. Despite feeling overwhelmed, Zoey doesn't acknowledge their emotions and instantly agrees to take on the extra work without considering the impact on their well-being or the quality of work. As a result, they become increasingly stressed and start making mistakes, which in turn affects both, their performance and mental health.

Now, consider this scenario, Ro receives feedback from their manager that his performance needs improvement. Feeling hurt and defensive, Ro impulsively decides to confront their manager in a heated manner. They raise their voice and make personal attacks, damaging their professional reputation and straining their working relationship with their manager. Ro's emotional response prevents them from approaching the feedback constructively.

While Zoey’s example highlights decision making that is rooted in not acknowledging emotions at all, Ro’s example shows us what it is like to be led and over-consumed by our feelings while making decisions!

Then what does a more balanced approach towards our emotions look like while making decisions?

Let us take a look at Gleeba’s example to understand the same

Gleeba works with Jake, who interrupts them in meetings and takes credit for their ideas. Gleeba feels angry and upset about it. Instead of reacting impulsively, they take a moment to calm down and think. Gleeba decides to talk to their supervisor and show evidence of their contributions. By acknowledging their emotions but not letting their emotions control them, Gleeba makes a smart decision that effectively addresses the issue, while maintaining professionalism.

Apart from considering and acknowledging our emotions, some ways in which emotional intelligence plays a role in decision making include:

  • It enables us to empathise with others and consider their perspectives, fostering positive relationships

  • Helps us make decisions that align with our values and goals

  • Allows us to regulate our emotions and think more clearly when making choices

The next time you feel stuck and struggle with making the right decision - abstain from seeing your emotions as a barrier in the process. See them as your guide or messengers that nudge you in a direction while you still have the control over making the decision for yourself!

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