Listen to Your Body and Choose What You Call Your Feelings

We’ve been taught that we’re at the mercy of our emotions. And that, as leaders, we need to take control of these and not be swayed by them. Otherwise, we’re just weak.

Not so.

It helps to understand how emotions occur in our bodies and minds. To know that we can name and reframe them — and benefit from the result.

Here’s an example from a research study. Two groups of students were about to take a graduate school entrance exam. The first group was given nothing to read. The second received this message:

“People think that feeling anxious while taking a standardized test will make them do poorly on the test. However, recent research suggests that arousal doesn’t hurt performance on these tests and can even help performance. People who feel anxious during a test might actually do better. This means that you shouldn’t feel concerned if you do feel anxious while taking today’s GRE test. If you find yourself feeling anxious, simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.”

The students who got the message were able to reassess their ideas on stress. As a result, they scored an average of 65 points higher on the test than the other group.

Let’s apply this to you.


Reframing emotions obviously can help you become a more calm and confident leader. But don’t stop there. Know that your people could benefit from caring messages when they’re anxious or upset.

This can do more than help to soothe them in the moment. It can lead to better performance and a lasting life skill of forming a different impression of an emotion that initially strikes them as negative. That’s one of the best gifts that you can give your people.