There are four stages to emotional awareness that, if understood, will help you to better communicate with your business relationships.

Impulsive Reaction

Initially we experience the emotion and react blindly and impulsively – the tendency to strike out with anger, to flee from anxiety, or to give up when disappointed or sad.

Creating Context

The second stage consists of putting that emotion in the social context that gave rise to it. Anger becomes aimed at someone or something explicit, perhaps tinged with envy. Fear becomes a reaction to some threat. Sadness becomes a reaction to some disappointment, possibly mixed with jealousy. Here we build a “cognitive model” of what is happening to us, often a dramatic story line with ourselves as the main character. It’s what Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain, calls taking the “high road” – through the thinking cortex – instead of the “low road” – from perception directly to the emotional portion of the brain.

Mindful Awareness

The next stage involves being mindful of the emotion so that the best and most productive decision can be made. In this stage we can begin to take personal responsibility for the events leading up to the negative emotion and try to put the most objective perspective into play. In addition, we begin to assess how others might react to any display of emotion (or lack thereof) on our part. Mindfulness plays a significant role in this stage as we appraise the best strategy for productive outcome, given the emotions in question.

Awareness Resolution

The fourth stage is the decision to move ahead with the best and most appropriate action, one that integrates our authentic self with the sensibilities of what would work best for all involved parties.

Understanding this mental progression can help you make the most out of new situations and new relationships.

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