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What is Emotional Agility in the Workplace?


employee practicing emotional agility at work

If you're trying to encourage your workers and help them be their best, one of the ways you can do that is to show them how to work with their emotions as well as with their thoughts. Since people attach so much emotion to what they're thinking a lot of the time, one of the biggest goals is to help them experience emotional agility. But what that means, how it can be used properly in the workplace, and why it's important may all be foreign concepts. Here's what you need to know.

What is Emotional Agility?

Defining emotional agility isn't difficult, although putting it into practice may be more complicated. In short, emotional agility is the ability to be flexible with thoughts and feelings in order to have an optimal response to the many different situations you find yourself in every day. If you can't be flexible, you may find that you're practicing what's called emotional rigidity. That's essentially the opposite of emotional agility, and can hamper your performance in the workplace and in life.

Emotional Agility Examples

There are several ways to practice emotional agility at work.

Emotional Agility Examples You Can Practice Every Day

One is through facing thoughts and behaviors in your workplace with a mindset that's open, instead of instantly reacting with emotion.

Another is to figure out — and focus on — the core goals and values you have, so you can use them as a compass to guide you in your career.

You can also consider making small but deliberate changes that incorporate the values you have, which could include things like leaving on time, avoiding gossip, dressing for success, and other behaviors that are important to you. 

The Importance of Emotional Agility

It's very important for employees to have emotional agility because they aren't able to be fully present and open to their workplace experiences if they're emotionally rigid. That can make it more difficult for them to interact with other employees, see things from the perspective of others, and move ahead in their careers. It may also make it harder for them to work on teams, since they won't easily understand how others feel or be open to trying to examine their own behaviors and the behaviors of others.

Importance of Emotional Agility in Leaders

If you're focused on emotional agility in your workplace, you also need to consider this same goal for leadership positions at your company. When a leader has emotional agility, they can lead by example. They'll also be more likely to have a better understanding of their employees, and work with those employees so that everyone has the most success and feels valued in the workplace.

[Read More: Mindful Leadership Exercises]

How to Build Emotional Agility

There are several ways to build, develop, and train your employees to have emotional agility. First, you need to demonstrate the trait in yourself. That lets employees see and model it more easily. You'll also want to provide information on being emotionally agile as part of workplace culture and training information. Employees can't work on something if they don't know they're supposed to. Additionally, consider specific training courses, as many workplaces have continuing education and other requirements for employment. Training in emotional agility can be a part of that.

Ways to Practice Emotional Agility

Fortunately, practicing emotional agility doesn't have to be difficult. There are a number of different ways employees can do this, including working with their leaders and teams to hear and be heard. Understanding other people, and how they don't all see the world the same way, goes a long way toward helping people who want more emotional agility to develop it in their workplaces.

Much like trust exercises, learning to be more emotionally agile can mean different things for different people. A lot of this depends on how much a person already reacts to others and how emotionally in-tune they may be with their colleagues and workplace. That means that practicing emotional agility will be more important for some people than others, because they have more to learn.

What's the Bottom Line With Emotional Agility?

The bottom line is that having emotional agility in the workplace is an important part of making sure employees can be open to their colleagues and experiences. People who are emotionally agile are good at stopping to think about situations, instead of reacting out of anger or frustration. They may not have as much need to be right, and they may be more focused on working together instead of only advancing their own interests.

Because people who are emotionally agile often make good employees, it can be beneficial for companies to teach their employees how to have more of this type of agility instead of focusing only on the work being completed. Over time, that has the potential to create a stronger and more cohesive workplace that enjoys a stronger, psychologically safe culture that benefits everyone.

[Read More: Culture Connection]



Caring For Remote Employees

Many organizations continue to work in remote and hybrid models as the pandemic winds down, but many employees, when given the option to return to work, would actually prefer to continue working remotely. Our new guide, Taking Care of Remote Employees: The Key To Business Success Beyond the Pandemic, gives you actionable steps to ensure that your employees feel supported no matter where they are working. 

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