Should You Trust Your Feelings?

If you hear yourself saying things like, “they don’t care,” “he isn’t engaged” or “she thinks she’s above it all,” then you’re operating off of emotions and not observation. In other words, you’re relying on your emotional brain rather than your executive brain.

As a leader, it’s self-regulation that helps you initiate conversations that get results. Unbridled emotion is a sign you’re living in the survival zone, which leads to mismanaged conflict.

Here’s how to know whether you’re operating from your prefrontal cortex or your limbic system:

  • Harboring resentment about an employee
  • Avoiding conversations because you know what they will say
  • Moving employees around on the chessboard
  • Initiating global conversations instead of addressing the issue head on and individually
  • Retaliation

What to do instead

Increase your self-awareness by observing your inner dialogue. Is it full of blame, anger and resentment? Realize that any unwanted emotion probably means there’s a conversation that needs to happen.

Don’t believe every thought you think. Instead, take a breath, then question your perceptions by addressing observable behaviors. It goes like this, “Parul, I noticed you haven’t spoken up at the last two meetings. My perception is that you’re checked out. Walk me through what’s going on.”

Parul now has an opportunity to share concerns.

What if Parul says, “Not at all, it’s just your perception.” That’s your opportunity to say, “Perhaps it is. What I need from you is to offer your input and engage in the next meeting. Can I get that from you?”

Whether the employee was checked out or not, chances are their behavior will change because you maintained composure, addressed the observed behavior, and shared your perception without preaching or judging.


In my book, From Conflict to Courage there’s a whole chapter on Self-Regulation. The chapter is called Emotional Integrity: Anger is not the truth.

It won’t be published until May but you can preorder on Amazon if you want.