You are talking to someone and notice their emotions are becoming all consuming.  You want to help and yet you are not sure what to do.

Regulating our own emotions is challenging and supporting others so they can do the same is even more so.

To be successful in this, we need to be able to separate their emotions from them so nothing is taken personally by us.  This can be difficult for all concerned.   Someone says something to us that messages disrespect, is mean spirited and perhaps conflicts with our personal values. Instinctively we want to retreat to protect ourselves or lash out, reacting to what has been said.  Either way, our reaction can create a disconnect and diminish our ability to stay in relationship.

If we want to approach this using emotional intelligence, we must become aware of what is happening for us and how we can manage what we are feeling.

Acknowledging and managing our emotions, we can shift our focus to the other person and notice what is going on for them.  Based on how they are showing up, what is going on for them?  What emotional buttons are getting pushed?   We can listen to them as we notice their body language, their tone of voice, the words spoken.  Our next step is to acknowledge in a way that helps to maintain connection and support our relationship.  The goal is for us to see, hear and understand the other person.  As we focus on understanding them, we can connect in a way that holds meaning for them and thus for us as well.

Here are 5 steps to help you stay in relationship with another when emotions come into play.

  1. Be present in the moment focused on the conversation.   If we are not present in a conversation, what is the point of having it?
  2. Choose to listen in a way that is open and non -judging.  As you focus on the other person, you will notice that something is going on for them that is causing their emotions to be touched.   Watch for the cues that message the emotions that could be surfacing for them.  If we can intentionally focus on the other person, there is less opportunity for their emotional contagions to pull us in.
  3. Ask open questions.  These help us to understand what is going on for the other person.  We can see, hear and understand them so we can stay connected and continue to build relationship.
  4. Be there for them.  If we can let them keep their emotional energy to themselves, we can remove ourselves from becoming involved in their drama.  We can choose to focus on their needs instead of our own.  This is when we can access empathy and compassion and be there for the other person.
  5. Stay calm and carry on.  This becomes easier the more we set an intention around it.  When we stay calm, we are able to set an intention around responding instead of reacting.  This ensures we are there to support the person so they feel seen, heard and understood.

It is sometimes challenging to stay in a place of calm and be intentional when someone is messaging disrespect.  And it is doable.  Once we can move to this place, we will notice the drama in our lives will diminish significantly and we will be closer to living the life we want to live.

Kathy Taberner

Kathy Taberner

Co-Founder of The Institute Of Curiosity

Kathy Taberner is a retired occupational therapist, Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with a MA in leadership and training.  With her daughter, she is a co-founder of the Institute of Curiosity and co-author of the ‘Power of Curiosity’. She is committed to supporting women to strive to become the dynamic and successful leaders they want to be.  Her research project for her Masters explored the leadership styles and emotional intelligence of senior female leaders in BC.

She and her husband of many years, share their time between the Okanagan and Vancouver.

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