Controlling Your Mood

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Per a Harvard Business Review article published in 2001, here’s the number one thing that influences a company’s bottom line: the leader’s own mood. The leader’s mood is contagious, automatically spreading through the organization. When it’s positive, it raises the cognitive and creative abilities of employees. Given the challenges that we all face in business each day, we need an accurate method to quickly read our own mood and then adjust it if necessary.

The Conventional Route

The same HBR article outlined a process for re-programming yourself for greater emotional intelligence, including re-framing your emotional temperament. It describes a 5-step method that is pretty much a standard gap analysis process: 1) imagine the emotional temperament you want to consistently hold and display, 2) honestly assess where you are now, using 360 degree feedback, 3) devise a plan for closing the gap, 4) make the changes stick through new physical and mental behaviors, and 5) get support from others.

This sort of process is familiar and logical to business people, and it can be useful. However, we can make it easier, but it requires getting out of your mind. First of all, you don’t need a 360 appraisal because you can feel your mood and know what you’re projecting by paying attention to how your body feels. In the same way you can learn to read someone else’s energy, you can learn to be more attuned to your own. Discover how it feels in your body to be joyful versus to be full of anxiety. Once you know yourself in this way, you need only pay attention to how your body is feeling and you’ll instantly know what you’re injecting into your organization’s environment.

The HeartMath Method

I’ve found the best way to change my mood is by changing how my energy feels in my body. This is different than our conventional beliefs, which would say change your thoughts first, which changes your mood and energy. For example, I remember one time I worked for a company that hired HeartMath to teach us a technique for changing our mood by changing our thoughts. It had some value but ended up being hard to sustain.

The consultant from HeartMath taught us a technique called Freeze Frame. The premise is that when you’re in a negative frame of mind, such as in a meeting discussing stressful issues, stop your mental processes and focus on the area of your heart for at least ten seconds. Then re-frame your mood by thinking of a positive experience and feeling it fully.

My colleagues and I experienced some success with this method, but it was short-lived. Eventually, the thought of the positive experience, which we were using to reframe our mood, became worn out and lost its appeal. In the same way that your favorite song loses its appeal when you play it too often, the thought of your positive experience loses its power.

Using Your Body

I find that a better method is to feel the sensation of positivity in my body. I refer to it as entering a state of presence. When you’re in a state of presence, your mind is not consumed with concerns over the past or the future, but rather is in a state of fully accepting life completely as it currently is. This is easy to say but not always easy to achieve.

It’s especially difficult if you’re facing challenges, which can be pretty much all the time in business. If you’re like me, when you’re working through problems and issues, your rational mind will sometimes refuse to let go because it’s convinced it needs to remain on the job. Being present requires letting go of this excess mental activity.

I find the easiest way to enter a state of presence is to create the sensation in my body. I’ve learned what it feels like to be present, so by activating the sensations in my body, similar to flexing a muscle, I can return to it at any time. A good practice is to intentionally shift back and forth between a state of presence and a state of agitation, so you can solidify the feeling of presence and learn to quickly enter it.

As soon as I connect with the sensation of presence in my body, my mood shifts. Because it’s like flexing a muscle, its power doesn’t diminish but rather grows stronger each time I use it. To have the best impact on your company’s bottom line, learn to flex this muscle often.


About the Author:

Jackie Barretta is a writer, speaker and consultant helping organizations strengthen agility and performance by shaping emotional energy. She is a thought leader bringing to light the new science of group emotional energy and connecting it to business performance. She has had a 28-year award winning career as a C-level Fortune 500 executive and Big Four consulting firm professional.
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  1. jean  December 12, 2011

    This is excellent Jackie. I’m also looking in the same direction and believe we’ll need that to make organisations and humanity move forward.
    Very interesting! Please continue!!!

  2. Chris Borne  December 20, 2011

    Excellent posts Jackie, they certainly support the insightful adage that true leadership is never assigned; rather, it is recognized.

  3. Tom Paton  December 20, 2011

    Great article…..a leader’s EQ is as important as his/her IQ and the sooner more leaders figure this out, the better

  4. Peter Galik  December 21, 2011

    EGO costs companies more money than any other single factor. IQ and EXPERIENCE is no longer enough. Leading companies are proving that business results increase dramatically with the number of emotionally intelligent authentic leaders in their organizations. It’s time to GLOW in the workplace.. ‘people can make the MAGIC happen’ in their organizations.. Don’t hesitate to join us in transforming today’s black and white’, ‘left-brained’ corporate world into COLOUR.

    Warm regards, Peter

  5. Ali Mirza  December 29, 2011

    The only factor that a human has control over is his “intention” and all the actions depends upon the purity and intensity of your intention, rest is the phenomenon of manifestation.


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