Emotional response control is a powerful approach to master.
Have you noticed how some people seem to glide through life effortlessly. Never getting ruffled. They never seem to let anyone else, “Push their buttons.”
They very likely have high emotional intelligence, and they will be applying effective emotional response control strategies.
Anyone can learn such techniques if they choose to and if they put the work in.
BTW – if you prefer an audio version of this, I have included one at the end of this article.
Emotional response control is a choice
External events happen to people all the time. They happen to you, me, and everybody. That’s life.
Events happen to you which range from extremely positive to extremely negative. In addition, they happen with varying magnitudes.
We can’t always control the events themselves, but we can often control our reactions and responses to those events.
This is a key concept to embrace in terms of your emotional intelligence journey.
So, you have the capacity for emotional response control, but only if you choose to apply it.
Choose to switch off your automatic pilot when appropriate
Like every other human on the planet, you will have taken onboard or developed various strategies to cope with whatever life throws at you.
Some of these response strategies may well be an innate part of your personal make-up as a human being.
Note that some automatic responses are deep-rooted and designed to keep you alive. Breathing, heartbeat, taking your hand off something hot, etc… I don’t recommend trying to override any of these even if you could.
Many other coping strategies may well have been taught to you by significant influencers at various stages of your life.
Other strategies will have been created by your good self over the years as your life progressed.
These various coping and response strategies will range from highly effective to highly ineffective. They can even be detrimental on occasion.
Many, if not all, of these responses will be automatic. Automatic in the sense that we do them without conscious thought. This can be very useful at times. Not so useful at other times.
Emotionally intelligent people choose to develop more of the highly effective strategies. They look to reduce the number of ineffective strategies and they aim to eradicate the detrimental ones entirely. In effect, they enhance their emotional response control by using better response strategies.
Emotionally intelligent people also enhance their emotional response control by selectively limiting the automatic nature of many of their response strategies.
You can do these things too. If you choose to do them.
Use the STOP technique for emotional response control
One excellent approach is to use a “master” strategy to help analyse and appropriately control your automatic response strategies. You could also call it a meta-strategy if you’re so inclined.
I personally use an approach called the STOP technique.
Emotional response control Step 1 – Stop
Although the whole approach is called STOP, the first step is also to stop.
Barring life-saving automatic actions, stop whatever it is you are doing or are about to do.
For example, if you feel that someone has disrespected you and you are getting ready to yell at them or insult them, stop.
Stopping removes the chance of an out-of-control escalation of events. You can always come back to this response if it proves to be the best one for you.
For right now, parking it for further analysis might prove hugely valuable in the long-term.
Emotional response control Step 2 – Take a breath
Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is the type of breathing in which you use your diaphragm to draw air fully into every part of your lungs. If you do any yoga, you will likely know about deep breathing.
If you are interested to find out more here is an interesting article: https://www.yogaroomhawaii.com/blog/7-amazing-yoga-breath-exercises-for-breathwork-beginners
Emotional response control Step 3 – Observe
This is the part of the process where you can analyse what is going on more deeply. As a result, you can come up with some options. You can then select the most useful (or least bad) of these options.
Let’s carry on with the disrespect scenario.
Firstly, ask yourself some questions.
- Are they normally a disrespectful person?
- Does any potential or actual disrespect matter?
- Might you have misheard or misinterpreted their intention?
- Why are you feeling disrespected at all?
Then you can consider some options.
- Carry on normally as if you didn’t hear anything.
- Insult or yell at them in return (the original automatic option).
- Assertively question the statement to fully check your understanding.
Each option may have pros and cons.
However, it’s always your choice at the end of the day.
Emotional response control Step 4 – Proceed
Having selected whichever of your options represents best value to you, you can now proceed and run with it.
The key point of all this is that you took control and made a choice. That is to say, you weren’t driven wholly by your automatic pilot mechanism.
You applied full emotional response control.
Note that all this takes just a few of seconds at most. You can observe whilst breathing for instance which means more speed of analysis. Those couple of seconds could save a career, a relationship or even a life. They can certainly save you a lot of problems and embarrassment.
How I use this approach
I use the STOP technique for emotional response control because of the following reasons and many more besides:
- It saves pointless escalation.
- I preserve my calmness and maintain my energy.
- It saves me time.
- It preserves relationships.
- Others see me as a more relaxed and confident person.
- As a trainer and presenter, whenever I’m asked a question. In that case the technique gives me much needed time to answer more effectively.
What could you do with it?
Why not create your own emotional response control process
The STOP technique is now an integral part of my emotional intelligence toolkit with the result that I don’t even have to think about it. I just use it.
Humans generally prefer to run on automatic. Therefore, it makes (somewhat ironically perhaps) a lot of sense to have an overall automatic strategy to properly control several other automatic strategies.
I have outlined the STOP technique for you. Additionally, there are many others out there so consider checking out a few more.
I would also highly recommend developing your own strategy because you are a unique individual. It makes a lot of sense to create your own unique emotional response control strategy.
That’s all for this one
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PPS Here is the audio version of this article if you would prefer to listen.