When we think about emotions, we tend to categorize them between positive and negative emotions. However, all emotions are part of the human experience. In decision-making, even “negative” emotions can be perceived as relevant for their ability to lead us to think more decisively, intentionally, and cautiously. It’s important to recognize which emotions are relevant to good decision-making so that you can prevent the wrong ones from manipulating you. Here are relevant and irrelevant feelings and the roles they play in decision-making:
Relevant emotions, however negative, can prove to be useful in decision-making, such as:
When pursuing a goal, we need to anticipate the outcome. Therefore, predicting future events can impact decision-making, envisioning realistic results rather than making hopeful predictions.
We feel anxious when put in a situation where we have to decide between two options, such as when two proposals are put up for a vote. When you accept that anxiety is a relevant emotion, you can choose not to allow it to control you and let it drive you to weigh each option rationally.
There’s always a bigger fish. In the corporate world, there’s always someone more skilled, more experienced, more charismatic, or more creative than you. And it’s likely that the person you are envious of feels envy for someone else. The positive side of feeling envy is that it allows you to recognize which areas you’d like to improve.
When it comes to making critical decisions, regret is what we fear most. We don’t want to look back on how our actions led to unfavorable outcomes. We can use this fear to consider all ideas, concerns, and conflicting views when making a final decision.
Not all irrelevant emotions in decision-making are negative emotions; however, they do not contribute to rational thinking and may even lead to making bad choices.
Feelings of anger can escalate, leading one to place blame on a perceived preparator. As a negative emotion, it impairs judgment and choices because the focus is taken away from positive outcomes and concentrated on other feelings like revenge and redemption.
Optimism can prove to be beneficial in certain situations, such as unpreventable and drastic disruption. However, too much excitement and positivity can also lead to irrational and unrealistic decision-making. It makes you think only of good outcomes rather than reflect on potential risks.
When we’re sad, we tend to overthink and spiral downwards. Sadness is also usually a very personal emotion and often doesn’t involve work-related situations. If you’re feeling despair due to your personal life, learn to control it so it doesn’t impact professional decisions and actions.
We all respond to stress differently. While some are proactive about avoiding stress-inducing situations, others allow stress to consume them and change behaviors. Stress can also induce physical, cognitive, and social reactions. These physiological changes divert you from making sound decisions as your body and brain work to overcome the physical and emotional disruption.
As a former CEO and COO, I have built leaders and their teams for over 30 years. I now count top organizations among my grateful clients.
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