How to Manage Emotions Intelligently During a Crisis

Restaurants are beginning to reopen, parks and beaches now have families playing and picnicking, and haircuts are legal again. It’s wonderful...and terrifying. The only thing scarier than the rapidly spreading COVID disease is how little we actually know about it. With such wildly differing views on who this pandemic should be handled, we find ourselves drawing lines in the sand instead of coming together.

As companies slowly reopen, we are faced with a mass reemergence and all of the emotions and anxieties that come with it. No matter what industry you’re in, your business will need to make some tough calls on how they will handle the new norms. How can you best lead your team and work together with others even when some would rather be social distancing?

Emotional Intelligence Experts and leaders at the Institute for Health and Human Potential (IHHP) Dr. JP Pawliw-Fry and Bill Benjamin have tips for using your managing and leveraging your emotions in the face of COVID-19. At IHHP, Pawliw-Fry and Benjamin have studied over 12,000 executives of Fortune 500 businesses, professional and Olympic athletes,and US Marines to understand what traits make up the best leaders in high pressure situations. It turns out anyone can be effective in a pressure situation if they intentionally take on these traits in a stressful environment.

Be the calm person in the boat

Take a deep breath. Yeah, you’ve heard this before, but that’s because it actually works wonders. When you feel anxious and your nerves start taking over begin to breathe deeply and slowly. Flooding your body with oxygen will tell your brain to stop releasing stress hormones. Physically altering your state of being will help you control your mind as well. Without adrenaline coursing through your veins and hijacking your amygdala, you are able to think rationally and logically instead of springing into fight or flight.

This doesn’t just apply to you. When you can control your emotions and think clearly you are in a position to help others however they need it.

Performing under pressure

One trait found in most of the high performers was resilience. The best are separated from the average by their ability to put past failure behind them and keep moving forward. As a leader during a massive pandemic you need to embody resilience. Oftentimes it looks a lot like positivity, but the difference is resilience comes a great learning from past mistakes. This helps us grow.

When you’re leading your team into the uncertain waters of a post-COVID workforce, you must take into account what your team has learned from these three months of social distancing, apply these lessons to your future goals and push forward into better times.

Lead the in the last 8% situation

Throughout their studies of human performance, Benjamin and Pawliw-Fry found most people tend to leave the hardest part of every conversation for the last 8% and then avoid finishing the conversation and addressing the difficult part of the discussion. They delay and talk around an issue until they feel they’ve said enough. Now is a time where difficult discussions will be necessary. Do not shy away from the last 8% of any conversation, especially ones in which you’re discussing your coworkers comfort levels with new post-COVID arrangements. If you feel others are holding back their 8%, encourage them to speak freely in the safe space you’ve created. 

The new era of work will have its challenges. As a leader, it is your role to guide your team through struggles and into a better place. Do this by addressing other’s emotions and maintaining yours in a healthy way.

Related: How to Manage Emotions Intelligently During a Crisis