Negative Emotions Provide Important Data

Life is filled with situations that evoke strong emotions, yet we’ve been conditioned to pretend everything is okay. In most workplaces, the expectation is that we behave professionally and avoid reacting based on emotion. But Susan David, author of “Emotional Agility,” reminds us that ignoring negative emotions shuts us off from important data.

When we disconnect from our feelings and values, or our personality is mismatched with what we’re asked to do, we burnout, experience lower levels of wellbeing and, ultimately, don’t serve ourselves or our organization well.

To boost emotional agility, David suggests:

  • Listening for repetitive internal messages that trigger bad feelings. This can signal that you’re hooked in a negative thought pattern that saps physical and emotional energy.
  • Label these thoughts and emotions to establish distance and objectivity.
  • Accept your emotions and listen to the messages that lie beneath.
  • Act on your values – which tend to be stable and constant.