Emotional Reaction

Last week I exploded a perfectly decent working relationship with a tradesman who has done regular, high-quality work on our units at Gate Farm. I stupidly let my emotions get the better of me and reacted to his continual lateness for appointments. Speaking in the heat of the moment I caused a chain of events that culminated in him downing tools and walking out. I don’t imagine he will work for us again.

Stupid of me? Yes! Inconvenient and annoying? Yes! An opportunity for me to learn a lesson. I hope so!

This isn’t the first time that I have let my emotions get the better of me. I have run into similar problems with my staff, with event organisers and with suppliers. I can react in a very emotional way in certain circumstances. It almost always ends badly for me.

Often, I’m reacting to something unrelated that’s going on, and it’s not even necessarily the fault of the person on the receiving end of my anger. Speaking in the heat of the moment, raising my voice, venting my anger and frustration almost always leads to me saying things I regret afterwards.

It never achieves the outcome I desire and yet I persist with it! Why don’t I learn to control my emotions better?

Have you experienced this feeling too? Are you raising your voice, speaking your mind in the heat of the moment, reacting in an emotionally charged way? Is it getting you into trouble like me? Are you damaging relationships at home and work as a result?

I have been thinking about how to control my emotions better in these situations. If I stop myself reacting immediately then, I have time to cool down a notch, I then think more clearly and make better decisions. I’m more able to see the situation from the other person’s point of view, and consequently, I’m more able to react with sympathy and compassion rather than anger and frustration.

One method I’m employing is not replying with an instant text message. When I communicate by text, it seems very easy for words to be either taken out of context or to appear much harsher than I had intended them to be.

Another method I’m employing is to delay my reply. This action is much harder for me to do. But I know it’s the way forward. The higher my emotions, the stronger my reaction, the more I feel provoked and justified the more likely I am to say something I regret.

During these highly charged moments, I must NOT react. It is at these times that I must pause for thought, wait a few hours, maybe even until tomorrow. Once I have had time to calm down, my reaction will be more thoughtful and less personal, and much more likely to get the outcome I want. I cannot say it is easy. Knowing what I should do, is quite different from doing it in the heat of the moment.

I keep trying to remind myself that people are people, they have there own things going on, their own problems and difficulties. They don’t set out to annoy and frustrate me in the same way that I don’t set out to be rude and unpleasant to them. So, if I can react with compassion, sympathy and understanding, then I am much more likely to get the response and outcome that I desire.

Life is a tough journey that involves daily learning and growth. I look in the mirror and remind myself that I reap what I sow.

Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

14 thoughts on “Emotional Reaction”

  1. It is so easy to react isn’t it. I have recently taken to writing on paper how I feel and then reading it back before tearing into little pieces….somehow it seems a lot less of a problem then.

  2. This is a great post, I think you have a point. Is there really any need to react immediately? Things will always be seen differently when you approach them from a place of reflection and calm.

  3. Yes I agree with you in that we should not let the moment control our emotions and that our emotions do control how we react. We are able to chose the way we respond and that choice may have consequences we then have to accept.
    However though you may of reacted inappropriately, do you not believe that lateness is a lack of respect? A few times over a course months will always have a plausable excuse, possible whimsical but, acceptable. When an employee in and form is continually late and not just by a few minutes but by tens of, do you not question why? Yes there are people in this world who have no concept of time (lucky them) or sense of urgency( even more lucky). I had a friend who was ALWAYS late and then made everyone else late ‘Just because’. So I stopped being on time because I knew I would be waiting or as a group we would meet at the designated time and enjoy ‘our’ time before her arrival. The realisation of her ‘missing out’ because of her cavalier approach to time hit home and it became manageable with her.
    My point is lateness does have a nock on effect however little, however personal or professional and that his lateness had grated on you over time. So it was a level lateness that had become unacceptable and it took an emotional shake for you to voice your honest opinion on his choice to be late in your time.
    He now knows it was wrong and inappropriate of him and you now have to deal with the consequence in a way that betters the situation.

    • Hi Gayle
      I agree with the issue of lateness. I have zero tolerance for it in other areas of our business like our show stands. The stands are so expensive and we are reprimanded by show organisers of we open late. I found it more of a grey area regarding this tradesperson as he has always been late. I accepted this behaviour from him as I was extremely happy with the quality of his work, however, it really pushed Justina’s buttons and she had a go at me, as it was her who was kept waiting. I then reacted at him after Justina had a go at me…. You can see how the situation played out!
      Maybe one day I will learn to control myself!
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  4. Yes, I do agree that it is very easy to reply quickly and hurtfully in the heat of the moment! However with age comes great wisdom and I for one have had to learn to control my temper and comments! I, like you, am a great stickler for timeliness and have had to dial back my reactions to people who appear to have no concept of time. It is not easy! However the strategies you have outlined in your blog are similar to ones I use today and they do work. Especially the one about learning to delay your responses. I have used meditation and deep breathing techniques which help me to remain calm in a charged situation. I’m not saying I’ve cracked it as I will still fly off the handle at times. Thankfully, these times are becoming less and less and I view the experience as a work in progress. We have to try and not let our emotions get the better of us. Good Luck with your journey!

    • Hi Joy
      You write with wisdom and clarity about how to tackle this situation. I have been thinking about learning more about meditation. I have never tried it, but think it would be something I would like. If I can ever quieten my mind down enough!
      Best Wishes

      Luke x

  5. I admire your honesty in your posts. I’m a bit hot-headed too and am trying to not react when I get annoyed. It is hard and often things can be said that I instantly regret if I lose my temper, so, I try to walk away, even just to the loo, to take myself away from the situation. I try to remind myself that my temper tantrum can cause a chain of events to happen in someone else’s life, and might be the final straw in a chain of events for them.
    If ever you need to rant, feel free to contact me to get it off your chest. Sometimes just getting it out is all you need.

    • Thanks Adele, You have exactly articulated what happens in my head. I’m like a kid with a stick and I just keep poking, even though I know that I need to walk away!
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  6. Yes sometimes it is better to count to ten or ‘hold fire’ when replying to a text or replying to someone
    But there are times when you’ve withheld how you feel for so long you feel ready to explode ..
    This weekend is a great example for me personally. My partner took 5 days off for Easter break .
    I thought ‘ yay ! Barbecues , walks in the country , pub lunches ‘
    So when he started building and painting a shed , I was slightly upset … but didn’t say a word .
    Not once over the 5 days did we do anything together .
    I have held my emotions in , thinking myself to be selfish when he obviously wanted to get his chores done in his time off.
    A few days later , I have gone from being upset to pretty mad .
    But am still holding my emotions in .
    It’s not doing me much good since I’m the one not sleeping, and walking about all day with this horrible tenseness inside of me . Still .
    Perhaps in retrospect I should have said something to start with .
    But then I guess the end result would have been no different and I’d still be feeling let down .
    Does it really change a situation?
    So you can decide not to react .
    But you can’t help how you feel .

    • Hi Rihanna
      I feel your pain! I can see myself in the behaviour of your partner and it is like holding a mirror up on my own actions and you have helped me to understand how I impact those around me.

      I know it’s not easy, but I think you have to say something in those situations. If my own mindset is anything to go by, he may well not even realise he is doing something that is upsetting you or that you consider being unreasonable.

      By talking about it together you may be able to reach a solution. One possibility in the future is to suggest you help him with that task, that way it might be finished quickly so that you can then do something that you want to do together. You also get the opportunity to at least do something together even if it is not your first choice.

      Either way, don’t suffer in silence. Men are generally not the most intuitive animals, if you don’t say something in plain English then he will probably not grasp that you want to do something different.

      If you get angry, and resentful with him after the moment has passed, this doesn’t have the desired effect and will likely cause him to react negatively too. Tackling the issue straight away and suggesting a compromise will normally elicit understanding, sympathy and compromise from him too.

      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  7. Hi, I loved that last paragraph Luke. I know this is a past post but that’s really taken some of the steam out. So deal with the situation straight away, offer a solution or compromise and then see. Perhaps hold to the compromise, but if understanding comes then it may be the compromise will have to be postponed but kept.

    • Hi Janice
      Thank you for your very insightful comment. We keep learning every day. But sometimes I wish the path was a bit easier !! Hope you have a good weekend.
      Best Wishes
      Luke x


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