Managing Emotion

Understanding the emotions that are at hand as well as those that may arise from a particular situation can lead to decision making and problem solving based on emotional as well as rational fact. For example, disagreeable work schedules, cumbersome processes, or shaky team interactions must first be understood in terms of their emotional underpinning. Stayer (1990) described how weekend work was disliked by a group of delivery personnel. Careful study of the issue revealed the root of the problem: worker inefficiency and lateness, slow start-ups, and absences were causing equipment downtime. Once the workers discovered and acknowledged that they could affect the problem by changes in behavior, they improved their punctuality and efficiency, downtime decreased, and so did the necessity of weekend work.

Although we will probably never succeed in eliminating weekend work schedules from the health care environment, we can use this example as a starting point for other situations more relevant to nursing. Emotion management and problem solving have similarities: they both require assessment of a situation and thoughtful efforts to correct it. A shortfall occurs when we as leaders fail to recognize the emotion that a problem is generating or we fail to consider the emotional element in solving it. The success of emotion management is demonstrated in the ability to process negative energies into positive outcomes (Staring, 1999).

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