INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION – 9

We are generally very adept at hiding our emotions except when we are in stressful situations. These, of course, are a major component in the life of telecommunicators. There is physical stress (e.g., sitting for periods of time at a console) and mental stress (dealing with difficult, traumatic, and sometimes horrific events on a routine basis). These stresses will trigger our emotions in a variety of ways. Physiological changes, nonverbal reactions, and cognitive interpretations do not only determine what we feel but also how we respond to others.

Emotions come in many dimensions: they can be primary emotions, or they can be a combination or one or more emotions (we have all had mixed emotions about something). Some emotions may be mild, while others (like anger) can be very intense. Through social rules and conventions, we generally have been taught not to express all our emotions, especially when they are negative. Often we fear the consequences of showing emotions and suppress them.

This chapter explains the several guidelines that help us decide when and how to share emotions effectively. It is important that when sharing emotions, we have self-awareness, use clear language, and express mixed feelings. Another important aspect is to accept responsibility for our feelings and to acknowledge the underlying causes for them rather than blaming them on others.

Feelings and expressing many emotions add to the quality of interpersonal relationships. However, not all feelings are beneficial. Your text gives you a number of tools to minimize unproductive emotions. This chapter differentiates between facilitative emotions; i.e.; emotions that ultimately help us and debilitative emotions. The latter are generally very intense and last over long periods of time. Irrational thinking can often lead to these emotions. The roots of these debilitative emotions often lie in what is called emotional memory. Seemingly harmless events can trigger these emotions when they bear even a slight resemblance to troublesome experiences from the past.

Irrational thinking is accepting a number of illogical conclusions and turning those into debilitative emotions. Irrational thoughts are called fallacies in your text and can be divided into seven separate illogical thoughts: the fallacy of perfection; the fallacy of approval; the fallacy of shoulds; the fallacy of overgeneralization; the fallacy of causation; the fallacy of helplessness; and the fallacy of catastrophic expectations.

Your chapter points out that rational thinking can change the negative impact of debilitative emotions, whether biological or psychological. It is often possible to communicate more effective by identifying the debilitative emotions, identifying the activating events (triggers) and replacing any irrational thoughts with a more logical analysis of the situation.

Even though you are trained as telecommunicators to present a certain demeanor to the public, you are not a robot that can just shut off whatever emotions you bring to the workplace or whatever emotions are evoked by the workplace. To be able to respond effectively and confidently, it is important that you not only analyze what makes the caller “tick”, but also what your frame of mind is when you respond.

Please know all the key terms in this chapter and read the text thoroughly. I have listed a number of web links for further study or just enjoyment.

Web Links

EQ International Site

http://eqi.org/index.htm

Advice for Couples: How to Control Anger

http://www.sensiblepsychology.com/improving_anger.htm

How Do You Feel Today?

http://www.theoaktree.com/feelings.htm

Who Is the Only Person in the World Who Can Make You Angry?

http://members.aol.com/AngriesOut/grown1.htm

Understanding Yourself

http://www.region.peel.on.ca/health/commhlth/selfest/vocab.htm

Emotional Intelligence Quotient Self Test

http://www.utne.com/interact/tes_iq.html

Methods for Coping with Depression

http://www.mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap7/chap7n.htm