A to Z of coaching: E – Emotions

There’s no crying in baseball.

And some suggest there should be no crying in any workplace.

The reality though is that every professional is also a human being. And human beings are messy. If you want access to the genius, to the dedication, to the collaboration and every valuable aspect of a professional’s contribution, then you also need to embrace the full complexity of their humanity.

Human beings experience emotions. Sometimes they are useful for us, other times less so. But in the longer run we do better when we learn how to embrace them, learn how to handle them in different contexts and above all develop the agility to respond to whatever arises.

Emotional Intelligence is a useful construct, and the work pioneered by Dan Goleman and developed by many others has provided opportunities in the workplace to engage with concepts such as self-awareness, empathy and adaptability in a supported way.

Coaching makes room for emotions. It’s not necessary to be emotional in order to make progress but being open and curious as emotions arise allows for a deeper understanding of where we are and what is most important for us.

In the coaching context, it’s also important to hold that space of inquiry rather than looking to move on or avoid the more profound insights that our emotions may be helping us to see.

1. What are you noticing?

It can be helpful to cultivate a habit of noticing as emotions arise. As an example, if you become angry it can be useful to say to yourself, “I’m noticing I’m getting angry”, rather than immediately acting upon that anger or engaging in self-criticism for being angry. This act of noticing also provides some breathing space to allow you to respond to what is arising in a way that’s more aligned with what you value.

2. You *are* that kind of person

“You’re an engineer, you wouldn’t understand”. “You’re a coder, you’re not paid to have feelings”. Sometimes, we utilise stereotypes to exert control over others, or avoid engaging with stuff that feels strange or inconvenient. This can result in some deciding that the business of emotions doesn’t apply to them. But it does. All of us can develop our ‘EQ’, work on our emotional agility and build our confidence to handle the unexpected.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *