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Self-Management – Living in the Gap

Posted December 7th, 2007

We are consistently making decisions based on values. When they are challenged or we perceive them to be in danger, our emotions will step to their defence and this can sometimes make us become seemingly irrational, particularly in the eyes of others, who may not appreciate or even understand our value system.

Self-management is all about being able to think clearly and remain focused even when you are experiencing strong emotions. Human beings are great story makers and will fill gaps in knowledge by interpreting things according to our own emotions and beliefs.

When something happens we have the true event, the actual facts of the situation. We then take this information and interpret it via our values, beliefs and attitudes. Often this will alter the true event and amounts to, ‘What we made it mean.’

Think back. How many times have you misinterpreted a situation and allowed your emotions to provide conflicting information to the real event? This often occurs because we don’t take time to ‘keep our emotions in check’ and will respond or react immediately.

There is an alternative, which we call, ‘Living in the Gap’. This means taking the time to re-assess the situation and not jump to conclusions based on how we interpret things. This is a demonstration of self-management.

Hold your hand up in front of you now, imagine your left has written on it, ‘What happened’ and your right has ‘What I made it mean’, that bit between, is the gap. That’s the moment when you have the chance to pause…and not act. The moment you usually miss because you’re too hot under the collar to notice. The time when you should have stopped to think.

This method can make a huge difference to your life when used effectively. It can be as basic as not hitting ‘enter’ on that email that you are sending in response to a seemingly rude one from your boss, or stopping for a breath and a think before you hurl abuse at a colleague who’s said the wrong thing. There’s no difficult process to it and no rules, just a simple method of managing those emotions!

So, next time you feel your temperature rising…stop…and live in the gap.

This article is adapted from an excerpt in the Trainer Bubble training materials on ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’. Visit our site today to view it.

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