How to build resilience and master your emotional responses

Being in control of your emotions and your reactions to situations is crucial as a team member and as a leader.

As software developers we don’t take a lot of interest in our own “emotions” and we often neglect how much they have the ability to improve or detriment our careers.

Emotions come into play nearly every day of our lives and our careers, especially when it comes to:

  • Giving feedback
  • High pressure situations
  • Discussing someones ideas and thoughts.
  • etc

With mastery over your emotions you can accelerate your own progression and become a person of stability, confidence and resilience.

What children taught me about the power of self-control …

When I was working for years with children they taught me a powerful lesson …

A loss of emotional control has a lasting effect in the eyes of your observers

As a very new teacher of children I had one horrific child that I was to look after who would bully other children for seemingly no reason – despite everything I did within my power I couldn’t help him to see how damaging his behaviour was.

For weeks I tried to be as patient as possible yet he would continue to randomly attack and bully other children … one day as he punched another child – I cracked and shouted across the room. Despite feeling somewhat cathartic, it did nothing for the situation and actually it permanently damaged my ability to influence him and all of the other children in the group!

He had “won” – the child now knew he could break me.

In future I would warn my peers of the lasting damage of making this mistake – however sometimes it seems you have to make this mistake yourself to learn from it.

I wanted to share some techniques that I put in place for myself to flex my own emotional control and prevent myself from hemorrhaging influence and respect from peers and colleagues …

My tips for dealing with overly emotional situations

  • Observe the situation – Observe and be mindful of the situations as they happen – spend time not reacting but simply observing others. You can even utilise “the helicopter approach” – … the reason it’s called the helicopter approach is because you try to change your perspective on how “big” these problems are by looking down over them from afar.
  • Utilise your support network – Talk out your emotions with a third person before responding to emotional situations where possible … it’s better to “tap out” for a moment or ask for more time than to lose control.
  • Remove yourself – Try and notice when you feel loss of control and frustration and remove yourself from the situation if you must.
  • Reflect on your own hooks – It’s important to reflect on our own behaviour to learn from it – spend the time after emotional situations to acknowledge how you can improve your future responses.
  • Give yourself praise – Allow yourself praise when you do control your emotions, observe all the positive effects and give yourself credit for your control.

Question: Have you ever got into difficulty reacting with emotions where you shouldn’t?

— Let me know in the comments below!

Lou Bichard