Use These 3 Skills to Improve Your Emotional Agility

If you’ve noticed an overreaction to something relatively minor in the past year or so, you’re not alone. We all juggle so much – mentally and emotionally that it can be difficult to constantly process whatever comes our way. This can be anything from serious threats – such as a global pandemic, racial injustice and violence, and lack of economic / financial security – to routine daily troubles.

Faced with so many questions at once, it’s easy to get a strong emotional response to everything, even the little things. One way to help deal with this is to increase emotional mobility. Here are three tips for doing this.

What is emotional mobility?

If you haven’t heard of “emotional agility” before, that might be because it’s only been around since 2013 when leadership coaches Dr. Susan David and Christina Congleton first coined the term in the form of a Harvard Business Review article . Fundamentally, emotional mobility is exactly what it sounds like: having the ability and skills necessary to process the problems and emotions that arise during times of difficulty and change.

As David explained in a recent installment of the Armchair Expert podcast , there are three key skills you can practice to improve your emotional agility during uncertain times: acceptance, compassion, and curiosity. Here are some ways to improve each of these critical skills, according to Vanessa Loder, a former Wall Street and Silicon Valley executive who now works as a mindfulness consultant.


According to Loder in an article for MindBodyGreen , emotional agility begins with the realization that you are not your feelings. She writes :

Labeling your thoughts and feelings is a powerful way to start accepting but not succumbing to what you are feeling. When you say, “I’m sad,” you melt into sadness. It is now your identity. You are a gray cloud of sadness. When you speak; “I notice that I am sad,” you are now more of an observer. You are the sky. The gray cloud of sadness just passes.


Now that you have identified how you are feeling, treat your emotions with compassion. For Loder :

By identifying your emotions more accurately, you can better understand the cause of that emotion and what you can do about that emotion. If loneliness lurks under your stress, you may crave more intimacy and communication, which is why it is important to connect with a friend and call him. On the other hand, if frustration is behind the stress, it might be time to have a difficult conversation with your boss or to express your frustration to someone.


Ask why your emotions trigger a particular response. Loder says that the next time you handle a difficult emotion, ask yourself, “What is this emotion trying to tell me what’s important to me right now?” She goes on to explain :

Just because your emotions tell you that you are upset about a boss or a coworker doesn’t mean you need to scold your boss or suppress your anger and put on a happy face. As David says, “Emotions are data, not directives.” Instead, ask what can bring you closer to building the career and life you love? Ask what value this emotion indicates. This is the power of our emotions; they are pointers to our deeper truth.

Yes, these strategies do take some time and practice because let’s face it: it might seem like it’s much easier to have a general Big Feelings response to everything and allow us to cheer up, but in reality we are only adding additional stress to our plate. when we do it.


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