Management of Emotions – for Managerial Effectiveness

Human beings are basically emotional beings. Everyday, we involve ourselves in physical and mental activities, yet our primary driving force is emotional. It has been experienced that little managerial attention has been given to this crucial aspect of human experience. For most managers, particularly the more senior ones, almost every day, there are situations that cause negative stress and adverse physical reactions either consciously or subconsciously. Such negative feelings are like mental poisons, possibly resulting in all sorts of disorders. The negative feelings can be classified in two ways. Feelings which are related to past events and others which relate to present or future events. Those events which we hold others or external factors responsible are “outwardly” directed; and other events for which we consider ourselves responsible are “inwardly” directed. With a professional approach one can “manage” such negative feelings at various levels. This paper attempts to discuss four elements that are needed for management of emotions: beliefs, expectations, comparisons, and worries. Resultantly, the managerial effectiveness increases, if these elements are managed appropriately.


Human beings are basically emotional beings and radiate their emotions. A happy person in a company makes his whole environment happy; likewise a depressed person makes his surrounding depressed. Individuals who run the system also matter for organization effectiveness Therefore, management of emotions is of paramount importance for both personal and managerial effectiveness.

Techniques for Management of Emotions
Several techniques for measurement of Emotions are given in philosophical books. Jagdish Parikh (1991) in his book Managing your Self has described some of the models of Management of emotions. Some of them are produced below.
The usual response to the question “What do you want in your life?” is happiness, satisfaction, harmony, love and joy. All these are feelings. In other  words, generally all our activities are ultimately geared towards achieving “happiness.” Yet all too often we end up with negative feelings such as frustration, anger, fear and anxiety. It is therefore of vital importance that we examine why a significant amount of human experience consist of negative emotions. First we need to identify what these feelings are, and where they come from. Do we have any control over them? Are there any ways in which we experience more positive emotions rather than negative ones? The most frequently experienced feelings, both positive and negative, are those shown below:

•    Positive –Love (Natural), joy, pleasure, satisfaction, etc.
•    Negative – fear (Man Made), regret, anger, sadness, guilt, embarrassment, frustration, etc.
Managing Negative Emotions:

We may classify this nebulous arena of negative feelings in two ways:
Feelings which are related to past events and others which relate to present or future events. Those events for which we hold others or external factors responsible, and therefore the resultant negative feelings are “outwardly” directed; and other events for which we consider ourselves responsible and therefore the feelings are “inwardly” directed. With a professional approach we can “manage” such negative feelings at three levels – preventive, curative, and symphonic.

The Preventive Level:

Alter Events
When we are faced with events that we expect will cause us to negative feelings, the usual tendency is to alter those events, or try to prevent them from occurring. However, we all too rarely have much control or influence over “external” events, or over other people.

Therefore the next strategy that managers usually adopt is described as avoidance or caving. For example, by avoiding attendance at a meeting where we know that we are likely to experience frustration or embarrassment we can prevent the experience of such negative feelings. But this is an escapist tendency of avoiding events.

Alter Logic
There are several other positive and constructive ways of preventing such negative emotions. These are based on “altering” our mode of thinking – “altered logic” – rather than “avoiding” unwelcome situations. This approach will not only help us to cope up with negative feelings, or stress, but will also enable us to convert stress into energizers – potential stressors are also sources of potential satisfaction. By altering our perceptions, we can convert problems into opportunities, reaction into proactive responses and enhance our response abilities or responsiveness.
At this preventive level, there are four elements that need to be managed: beliefs, expectations, comparisons, and worries.

Managing Beliefs:
There are two steps in this approach:
1.    Converting unrealistic or irrational beliefs (IB) into more realistic or rational beliefs (RB); and
2.    Converting rational beliefs (RB) into more practical or pragmatic beliefs (PB).

1. Converting IB to RB: How would we feel if we were to find out that someone was speaking badly about us next time, even though that person was a stranger? Most of us would generally feel sad, anxious, or angry (This is a negative feeling) Why is this so? What causes such negative feeling in us?
In fact ,there is no direct link between events and our reactions to them. There is an intervening variable, namely our beliefs, both RB and IB. These beliefs are held at both conscious and subconscious levels. In other words, if our perceptions, judgments, or beliefs change, even though the event may be the same, our reaction will be different. It is therefore, due to unrealistic or irrigational beliefs that we often react negatively. If, after becoming aware of such irrationally, we choose to alter that IB (irrational belief) and replace it with an RB (rational belief)., we may find  that our reactions become much less negative and in some case indifferent or even positive.
In the example cited, earlier, when someone speaks badly of us, we experience a negative feeling. Why? What is our perception? Judgment or belief “behind” this negative reaction? We are perhaps assuming, at a sub conscious level, that “everyone in this world must like me, or even love me”, or that “everyone should speak nicely about me”, or that “no one should dislike me, or speak nastily about me”, and also so on. How ever, when we return to reality, and ask ourselves that do we like or love everyone in this world? Do we dislike anyone? Do we always speak well about everyone? Do we never speak ill about anyone?

Realistically, factually, or rationally speaking, is it not  true that we do not like or love everyone in this world? We do dislike some people and possibly we do not speak well about everyone all the time. We may even occasionally speak badly about some people (sometimes, may be, with pleasure). If this is so for all of us, then is it realistic or rational to believe or expect that “everyone must like me”. Or that “no one should speak nastily about me?” In fact the assumption that there are always going to be people who dislike us and speak ill about us is the more realistic or rational belief. If we choose to substitute this RB for the more commonly held IB, there is every likelihood that our reaction to the event of someone speaking badly about us will be less negative or even natural. The internal dialogue.. There’s nothing unexpected or unusual about it”.

In the first instance, if we hold an irrational belief at the subconscious level that “No body should speak badly about me” then the syndrome would be experiencing a negative reaction and behaviour. However, if we consciously alter our belief into a more rational one then “There will always be someone who will speak badly about me” then our reaction and behaviour would most probably the less negative or more positive. The significant point to be noted is that the event is the same, but our reaction is different in situation. This in turn enables us to behave more proactively, instead of more reactive behaviour resulting from a negative reaction from the IB as in captioned situation. The most important thing to realize is that the event is the same and yet, in this way, we can mange, our negative feelings effectively.

2. Converting RB into PB: There is another useful approach to the management of beliefs, that of converting rational beliefs (RB) into more practical or pragmatic beliefs (PB). It is not only because of our irrational beliefs that we experience negative feelings. There are situations in which our thinking or beliefs are quite rational and justified. For e.g.: When a friend is ill, we feel anxious, or when we want something and subsequently do not get it, we feel disappointed. There is nothing irrational in this. The problem is that the intensity of our negative reactions is frequently far beyond what may be considered to be “Reasonable”. In such a case we tend to exaggerate our reactions, which have an undesirable impact on our feelings, health, and performance.

There are two dimensions to the management of our rational beliefs. First, there are situations or things that are vital to our existence. These can be described as our survival “needs”, such as food, fresh air, water, and shelter, at the physiological survival level, non fulfillment of which is a disaster. Similarly, at the sociological or emotional, level we “need” only a few relationships for emotional survival and a few recognitions or achievements at the physiological level. Secondly, there are things that we want, but which are not essential for our existence. These may be good to have, but are not “necessities”. In other words, they are niceties. If these needs are not fulfilled; it will not be a “disaster”, but more realistically, an “inconvenience”. On careful reflection, we should be able to identify at the various levels – physiological, sociological, and psychological –which are our survival needs which are the “niceties”, or even “greeds”. Unfortunately, we tend to get upset far more frequently and instantly than is necessary, even when one of the “niceties” is not fulfilled, and behave as if this represented the non fulfillment of a “need” or “necessity”. To the extent that we are able to clearly distinguish our needs from our niceties, and subsequently adopt a balanced approach, we can drive two concrete benefits, first with such clarity and awareness, the non fulfillment of “niceties” will not upset or disappoint us so much. Secondly, our sense of satisfaction with, and enjoyment of, the large number of “niceties” that we possess or enjoy will grow significantly. The enjoyment will be further enhanced by the fact that, with such a “pragmatic” approach, our “fear of losing” our “possessions” or “positions” will also be reduced significantly.
We frequently suffer from unnecessary anxiety, resulting from mental dialogues such as “What   if, this …or that….happens….? In such cases we can gain a better balance or perspective by prefixing such anxieties with the word “so” what if ….?”
It is important to realize that by identifying a thing as our “need” we are losing power or control because we create an intense dependence on the thing. In fact, our needs come to control our behavior – they manage our self!

Another important concept involved in the conversion of rational beliefs into more pragmatic or practical ones, is that of “gravity”. There is gravity in our planet Earth; it limits and regulates our lives significantly, and yet no one complains about it. Why not? The reason is that every one has accepted gravity as a totally unchangeable fact of life.

Similarly there are many things and situations in life with the same character as that of gravity, at least for a specified period of time. There are several unchangeable “gravities” at different levels of our life – individual, organizational and societal. For example, at the individual or personal level, there are several physical aspects, or features of our body, that cannot be changed during our entire life, and some, for example weight, which are not changeable for a specified period – of say, one year, three months, one week, or even one day. Moreover, there are similar changeable or non changeable “gravities” in other dimensions of our mental and emotional self, either for our entire lifetime or over a   specified period of time.  The same applies at the organizational and societal level. We frequently become agitated over things or situations that are unchangeable within a particular time frame. We fritter away our energies and resources trying to change such “gravities”. There are several other things and situations which we can influence and change, but if our attention and energies are engaged in such a dysfunctional way, the effectiveness of our efforts in other areas will be seriously and adversely affected. We need to identify explicitly at various levels – personal, organizational and societal – what are “gravities” within a particular time frame and what are not. This will enable us to make more judicious use of our resources. Then, by setting proper priorities, we can, over a period of time maximize the desired change and minimize the “gravities” strategies.

Managing Expectations:
The second frame of reference for preventing or minimizing negative emotions is that of managing expectations. There are two factors responsible for our negative feelings, our level of expectation and the level of their fulfillment. On the basis of this realization, we can develop the following “happiness formula”:

H (Happiness) = A (Achievement) / E (Expectations)

If our expectations (of results) are zero, even the slightest achievement or fulfillment will result in infinite happiness! It is of utmost importance, however, to be clear about the meaning of the word “expectation”. To have achievement motivation” and to have “result orientation” are different things and it is vital that we grasp the significance of this difference. We can have an intention to achieve and make the necessary efforts, without having worries about the fact (while making the efforts) that the result may not ultimately be achieved. 
Result depends on several factors, both internal and external, over which we cannot expect to have full control. There is an inherent uncertainty involved in the actual achievement of results, despite our best intention and efforts. Therefore our fixation with, or psychic investment in, the results causes an unnecessary degree of anxiety and tension while making the efforts to achieve them. This would affect our performance adversely. Rather once we have clearly established our goals or targets, we should pay full attention to our efforts or to the process which can lead to the result. In this way, we concentrate better and give full attention to the process of achieving, without “worrying” about the end result-action and performance flow. Expectation of result, while making the efforts, in inevitably generates a fear of non achieving the results – a “fear” of “loosing” – which is dysfunctional for results. With such an attitude or approach, we would, in fact, enjoy the “process” much more. This would also then contribute to our performance and finally to the end result. But here lies a subtle paradox. By remaining detached from the expectation of actual result, while keeping in touch with our intensions and commitment to them, we give greater attention and energy to our efforts. As a result, we are not only more successful but we don’t incur negative emotions, tensions, frustrations or stress. In fact, we experience full joy and satisfaction all the time. This success and satisfaction emerge from perusing our objectives with “detached involvement”.

Managing Comparisons:
Just as the gap between our expectations and their fulfillment causes negative emotions, so the gap between what we have and what (we perceive) others have, or between what we have and what we want to have, also causes negative emotions within us. The existence and the extent of the gap are dependent upon our perception of what we have and what others have, as well as on our criteria for comparison. There is a common tendency to overestimate what others possess and underestimate what we have. If and when we experience negative feelings of envy and frustrations, it is a result of comparisons, and this is trigger of a continuing comparative pressure, we need to watch out and manage such comparisons at two levels:

At a philosophical level, where we have to sort out within ourselves how much and how far we want to manage our lives on the basis of comparison with others; and at a common sense level, where we have to ensure that the comparisons are made with a proper and realistic perspective and perceptions.

Managing Worries:
Practically everyone has worries, big or small, at any given moment.  But do we worry “efficiently”? we can develop a systematic approach to the managing of or dealing of with worries, to minimize the experience of negative emotions. There are four steps involved in this “professional” management of worries they are:

1. Devise worry breaks: The wide range of worries that we experience interrupt our thinking process, crest emotional disturbances, and distort our concentration in whatever way we may be involved with at that time. Unfortunately, even if we try to prevent or block such “worries” we will not succeed. It interferes with our concentration and therefore with our performance.

To break the spiral, we should create “worry breaks”. We have already integrated coffee breaks and lunch breaks into our daily routine. Similarly, we need to give our self sufficient time to think about our worries.  For a week or two, even on an experimental basis, we should plan a regular daily break, during our work routine, at a specified time for thirty minutes or so. This may be reduced as and when sufficient systematic “worrying” has already been done.

2. Create a Master List:  On the first day, at the beginning of the worry break, we should start by making a master list of all the worries. The list should be made in whatever sequence they appear in our mind. Let all the worries, big and small; be poured out on the top to on a sheet of paper, without any kind of mental screening.

3. Prioritization: After an exhaustive master list of all the worries that has been made, each should be classified according to two parameters:

    a) Likelihood: Worries are usually about some events occurring and not occurring. Different events may be more or less likely to occur. There is a spectrum of probabilities, ranging from most “likely” to most “unlikely”.

    b) Seriousness: For each worry, estimate the degree of seriousness of the consequences of the event, from “serious” to “not serious”.

4. Action Plan: On the basis of this prioritization of worries, we should develop an appropriate action plan for each worry. Prioritization should also be reviewed during every worry break, because situation keeps changing.

 The Curative Level: Dealing with Anger:

Despite our best efforts to prevent negative emotions, we may still experience some, as our “management” of emotions may not yet be full proof. How should we manage these negative emotions, once they have occurred? One of the most frequently experienced emotions is anger or irritation. The usual approach is either to express or suppress anger. If we express anger, we feel a sense of relief, or satisfaction at that moment. But, after some time, we frequently feel a sense of guilt about our behavior;. We occasionally apologize or “explain” to the individual concerned and then feel better. However, if we keep on controlling and suppressing our anger, for the sake of “appropriate” behavior, over a period of time we may develop ulcer. If we express our anger we feel guilty; If we suppress it, we feel sick! This is what we call a double bind – we are locked into a kind of “flight” or “fight” response. Expressing anger is, in a sense, a flight response; where as suppressing anger is a fight response.  Is there a way out of these reactive responses, both of which have adverse consequences? Fortunately, there is a way of dealing with anger and irritation, which is not only very powerful and effective, but also conducive to our personal growth. This is called the “transcending response” or the “witness approach”. Whenever we experience anger or any other negative emotion that we want to eliminate, we should do nothing other than becoming aware of the anger, accept it – allow it to be there.

Management of Anger :
This is an adaptation from Management of Anger: A Moment of Indian Wisdom by Dr. P.N. Mishra published  in ARHAT VACANA,  Kundakunda Jnanapitha, Indore, (Vol.9, No. -4, Oct. 97, 31-34, October, 1997). The Institutions of Society encourage their members to express or suppress certain types of emotions. Generally speaking, expressing negative emotions, such as hatred, jealousy, etc., is not welcomed by other members, not least because it tends to create a non-congenial atmosphere. Emotions are contagious; in that they can easily be passed from one member to another e.g. A sad person in the family transmits his sadness to other members. Although not occurring often, a situation that endorses the expression of negative emotions can exist, e.g. In order to discipline a member, etc. it may be necessary for his superiors to resort to expressing anger. Controlled and calculated expressions of negative emotions may be acceptable in certain situations, but not always. We are often overpowered by negative emotions and can lose control of ourselves. Controlling and expressing emotions to the necessary extent, therefore, is not an easy task.

Anger is the most difficult emotion to manage. The management of anger has attracted the attention of both spiritual thinkers and psychologists for many years. Here, the word “Management” is used very loosely to include the coping with, controlling, expressing calculatively and sublimating it totally. The emotion of anger is aroused at will and is discarded once its purpose is achieved. Normally, a person is incapable of arousing the emotions of anger at will, because he would be overpowered by such emotions. A state of mind where a person is able to totally master his anger, is the ultimate objective of the management of anger. Coping with anger generally involves two strategies: expressional and suppressional. To express anger once it has built up is the essence of the former, while to suppress it is the gist of the latter. When expressing anger one feels relieved as if pressure is being vented. However, the danger is that if anger is repeatedly expressed, it may well become habitual and difficult to overcome, Moreover, the environment may not always welcomes your demonstration of anger, especially if you have chosen an untimely moment or an unsuitable place to express it – it may be detrimental to your reputation, not to mention the possibility of an aggressive response from the person on whom you are expressing your anger. The expression of anger, therefore, is not always a good strategy for coping with it.

Should anger be suppressed? Suppressing anger has its own drawbacks and can lead to the development of psychological complexes and psychosomatic disorders that merely aggravate the condition. According to Gita, the sole cause of anger lies in an individual’s expectation and desire which derive from the preoccupation with those things that appeal to the senses. Gita further argues that it is the desire that is transformed into wretch, which it stems from the element of Rajas. 
The above genesis of anger suggests that if there is no expectation, there will be no anger e.g. you expect your friends to behave in a certain way, but when they do not, you become angry, because, your expectations have not been fulfilled. Moreover, when an expectation is fulfilled, it gives rise to further expectations –some of which will have little or no chance of being satisfied. It, therefore, follows that, inevitably, an expectation is going to result in anger. In order to free from anger, it is necessary to drop all expectations. Patanjali has put forward certain formulae to acquire peace and to divert the flow of consciousness inwardly. The gist of some of his aphorisms, which deal with the cultivation of a peaceful mind and the diversion of consciousness inwardly, are discussed below:

•    The repetition of the sound AUM (a gentle humming sound) results in the turning of consciousness inwardly and the disappearance of obstacles like disease, doubt, carelessness, laziness and distraction etc.
•    Cultivate attitudes of friendliness towards 'the haves', while showing compassion to the 'have nots' and to those who are miserable, gladness towards the success and virtues of others, as well as forgiveness and indifference towards any wrong committed to you.
•    The mind becomes peaceful by the forceful ejection and retention of breath.
•    The uninterrupted practice of awareness of the Self is the means of dispelling the misconceptions caused by ignorance. Ignorance is the cause of our entire miseries and ego. We hear people around us dying every day, but we never feel that it will happen to us one day: ignorance is not knowing or understanding reality.
•    When the mind is disturbed by improper thoughts (e.g. hatred, jealousy etc.) the constant pondering and the deliberate arousal of proper thoughts (the opposite of improper thoughts) is the remedy.

Strategies for the Management of  Anger
On the basis of the above, short term and long term strategies for the management of anger can be formulated.

Short Term Strategy
When anger erupts, try to exhale forcefully, take a deep breath, retaining it as long as possible before ejecting it forcefully - repeat a few times. This exercise should be done as soon as possible after the outburst of anger or during it, if it is at all possible.
Long Term Strategy
•    Drop all kinds of expectations. Never hope that things will happen as per your desires or allow your expectations to build up. Accept things as they are, and, even if you want to change matters, it is at first necessary to accept the situation as it is. Expectations build up silently and often catch you' unexpectedly. It is necessary, therefore, to periodically review your own mental framework. After every instance of anger, try to identify the hidden expectation(s) responsible and drop this expectation altogether.
NB : Although it is necessary to drop expectations, hope must always be maintained.
•    It is difficult but try to be constantly aware of what is going on inside your mind. Practice makes perfect, so, at first, remain aware of your mental process for as long as possible and then, with each attempt, try to extend the period of awareness of your own thoughts. This practice will cultivate an undisturbed and peaceful mind.
•    If the mind is disturbed by 'improper' thoughts (ie. hatred, jealousy- etc.) identify opposing 'proper' thoughts (eg. compassion, kindness etc.) and deliberately cultivate these thoughts.
•    Chant the mystic sound 'AUM'(ie. a gentle humming sound) as many times as possible.
•    Any combinations of short and long term strategies may be used, but how can we be sure that these methods will work for us?


 It would be appropriate to comment on the spiritual and modern psychological perspectives. Modern psychology is based on experimental findings carried out on animals, abnormal or normal people, and by using experimental methods that have their own limitations i.e. imperfections of the observed samples, non - representative ness of samples, etc. The recommendations put forward by modern psychology, therefore, are not totally reliable. Contrary to this, Indian psycho philosophical wisdom is experimental. Sages and saints observed their own minds while remaining as objective as possible to arrive at the conclusion. Psycho spiritual wisdom, which is well established and has a tradition of more than 5000 years, has given relief to mankind throughout this period.  These techniques have been tried on more than 500 people, each one reporting good results of varying degrees. Confidently, these harmless yet effective techniques can be recommended. They have worked well with others and will work well with you.


•    Jain, Pramod Kumar, Management of the Self fir Organisational Effectiveness: A visit to Jainism, 2009
•    Mishra P.N. Jain, R. & Pandit S., Coping with Emotional Labour through witnessing the self, Ambedkar Journal of Social Development & Justice (Vol.V,1997)
•    Mishra P.N., Management of Anger: A moment of Indian Wisdom, published in Arhat Vacana, Vol. 9 No. – 4, pp. 31-34, Oct. 1997
•    Mishra, P.N., Jain, Rajneesh & Sangeeta Jain, Management Transformation, Patanjali, Revisited in Search of Strategy for Management of Self, Vision and Strategy, Indore Management Association, Indore (1997)
•    Parikh, J., Managing Yourself, Basil Blackwell, Indian Book Distributors, Bombay (1991)