How to grow emotional agility
Physically, you’re flexible – but how about emotionally? Use these tips to develop those muscles.
Agility can help you master box jumps and yoga positions. And according to Dr Susan David, that same kind of flexible approach can help you respond to conflicts and disappointments at work and beyond. “Most of us allow our thoughts to inform our actions,” she says. “Emotional agility is about pausing between our thoughts and actions, thus allowing us to make smarter choices.” So, instead of thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a dream job listing. No point in applying – it’s out of my league’ rather think, ‘Challenging myself is important, so I’ll give it a shot!’
Here’s how to hone your mental game.
1Feel your feelings Studies show that fighting emotions only makes them stronger. The key is to acknowledge negative thoughts without allowing them to define you. “Make room for them and then move on.” A tough day at work doesn’t mean you can’t have a blast in that good-for-you spin class later on. “Give yourself the flexibility to act on your values, rather than what your mood is telling you to do,” she says. “It’s surprisingly freeing.”
2Think of the big picture Imagine that you’re in a meeting and a colleague takes credit for your idea. Your reaction may be to shut down and stop contributing. “But ask yourself why you’re in the meeting in the first place,” says Dr David. “Focus on bigger-picture goals and values, so you’re able to take measured decisions.” Let the annoyance pass and then jump back in.
3Be your own friend Facing a dilemma? Ask yourself what advice you’d offer a friend in the same situation. “It’s incredible what solutions you can generate when you unhook yourself from your perspective,” Dr David says. Alternatively, ask friends for their suggestions. Their advice may be kinder than your own internal monologue.