Emotional Control and Preventing Burnout

Tips for staying positive in difficult situations

When performance goes down for us, our colleagues, or loved ones, it usually isn’t the result of forgetting how to do the job. Rather, it is usually stress-related, interfering with our problem analysis, decision making, communication, and more.

In a course developed by the Dale Carnegie Curriculum Design Team upon request from Northrop Grumman called “Managing Stress and Accelerating Success,” we laser focus on Emotional Intelligence, and the Emotional Intelligence Quotient, which measures EI.

[To read more of Brian Barry’s thought leadership click here]

Stress Burnout Characterizations

  • Over-engagement
  • Disengagement
  • Emotionally over-reactive
  • Emotionally blunted
  • Feelings of urgency and hyperactivity
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope

Stress burnout can lead to anxiety disorders as well as detachment and depression. The primary damage is physical and/or emotional. You may fill as though life is not worth living, and it may in fact kill you prematurely.

Tips for Controlling Emotions

  • Identify the emotion and what caused you to feel that way.
  • Communicate what you are feeling in a calm manner.
  • Do not allow your emotions to fester.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Face trouble by asking yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?”
  • Accept the worst and try to improve the situation.
  • When the emotional situation arises, ask yourself, “What is the emotion? What are the causes of the emotion? What is the wisest reaction?”
  • Don’t hold grudges or waste time trying to get even.
  • Refrain from mood swings. Act consistently under a variety of circumstances to build trust.
  • Eliminate stress by getting your house in order – do not let things pile up.
  • Keep busy.
  • Pick your battles – keep things in proper perspective and don’t fuss about trifles.
  • Cooperate with the inevitable—don’t worry about the past (don’t saw sawdust) and, instead, focus on the future.
  • Count your blessings.
  • Find moments of comic relief and laugh often.
  • Give to others.

    Socialize with positive people. New perspectives are a powerful way to gain fresh strategy. It has often been said that an organization’s competitive strength is based upon its bench strength.

Maintaining Your Cool

Here are six steps that can help you keep your cool:

  1. Get cerebral. Get a grasp on your thoughts and emotions and draft a note or e-mail saying what is on your mind.
  2. Ask for input. Run the situation by someone impartial and ask for their honest point of view.
  3. Get physical. Get out of the location. Take a walk or engage in some physical activity.
  4. Reflect. Look at the situation from the other person’s point of view and think about how you might have contributed.
  5. Sleep on it. Review your notes in the morning and decide if the situation is worth the energy or to let it go.
  6. Pick your battles. Either let it go or confront the situation.

Personally, these tips have helped me tremendously and, based upon the feedback of several hundred graduates, they continue to help them.

In life and business, we find ourselves in extremely stressful situations. When our performance, the performance of our colleagues, and the performance of our loved ones go down, it is usually not the result of forgetting how to perform. It is often related to stress.

Stress and worry interfere with our problem analysis, decision making, communication, relationships, and action. The negative impact on our health is well documented and includes stroke, heart disease, substance abuse, mental illness, and worse.

[For more on Dale Carnegie’s approach to Consulting click here]

When stressed and worried, it can feel like we are on a chessboard in the most intense scene. Pieces that won’t move can be extremely frustrating. Pieces attacking us can scare us, as can not knowing what will happen on that new square with our next move.

New perspectives are a powerful way to gain fresh strategy. It has often been said that an organization’s competitive strength is based upon its bench strength. The stronger our bench, the stronger we are. Since we are the CEOs of our own lives and professional careers, it makes sense to always strengthen our bench. It does not require many on that bench, just that they be strong, trusted, and diverse members.

When we are stressed and worried, a suggestion is to fly above the chessboard and gain new perspective and a clearer view of the game at hand. It will look and feel a lot different than when we are on the board. Even with just our own new view, our focus will improve. Gaining the insight from our trusted bench will absolutely provide fresh possible solutions and strategy. Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living provides superb principles to manage stress and worry. How To Win Friends and Influence People provides principles on how to strengthen relationships.

However you strengthen your bench, be the chess player rather than the chess piece. You will gain a new strategy for conquering stress and worry. If all fails, do what I do – refer to quotes such as the ones below for introspection.

“When dealing with people, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie
“Just when I found out the meaning of life, they changed it.” – George Carlin
“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” – James Branch Cabell
“If you could choose one characteristic that would get you through life, choose a sense of humor.” – Jennifer Jones
“Read the signs presented to us; it is all part of the wonderful journey. Be present.” – Jennifer Dioguardi