Addressing a difficult situation
Have you ever tried to work while you are particularly angry about a personal situation? Last week, I was reminded just how difficult such an endeavor is. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The background: I bought a home warranty a few months ago from a sorry excuse of a company that goes by OneGuard as of today. I have hopes that they will update their name to better reflect their values. I suggest ‘we are the worst. ever.’ I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Anyway, the A/C on my tenant’s property was not working well, so I called OneGuard to fix it. Long story short, they wouldn’t. The point of this article is not to re-live the gory details. If you care, check out my explanations on Angie’s List, Yelp, or the Better Business Bureau website. No joke.
The point is that the situation made me angry. Anger is a negative ‘arousal’ emotion. When you experience it, your attention stays narrowly focused on the object of the emotion. The anger spurred me to seek justice at any cost.
Unfortunately, what I failed to consider was exactly what it was costing me. In this case, placing my attention on what actually matters. My work. My family. My faith. My friends. My Texas Rangers. And they all suffered because I was angry about a home warranty company that deserves to die a horrible death, but doesn’t deserve the amount of attention I would have to give to make it happen.
There is an alternative.
We can take control of our emotions. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Emotional intelligence research offers a two-pronged approach to push mental control from the emotional center of your brain to the rational center.
Step 1: Label it. Literally, acknowledge the emotion you are experiencing. By simply becoming aware of it you are actually reducing it’s power. In this case, I should have said ‘I’m currently experiencing the emotion of anger.’
Step 2: Re-appraise. Put the emotion in it’s proper context. Emotions bring focus. And typically whatever you are focusing on at the moment is less important than you feel it is. By simply re-contextualizing the experience, the arousing emotion no longer controls you. ie. ‘I’m angry right now because of a situation that is costing me 400 dollars. These people don’t really know me. It’s not personal. It’s a bad business practice. And it’s not worth my time.’
All this to say, I don’t recommend OneGuard for your home warranty. Also, don’t let your emotions waste your most precious resources and your attention, on things that really don’t matter.