Does Emotional Reasoning Get in the Way of Your Career?
David Shindler is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and blogger on jobs, careers and employability development. He is also the author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”.
We all face that conundrum on occasions whether to listen to our head or to our heart when making decisions. Some of us lead with our heart and forget or ignore our head. Others start with their head and then pull on the heartstrings. Both are troublesome. So, what should you watch out for when making job and career decisions?

Rational and emotional reasoning

It’s useful to work out the pros and cons of applying for a job or pursuing a career path. List the criteria that matter to you, tap into your values, and identify the practical considerations. However, overdo your rational reasoning and you may suffer paralysis by analysis. Or find an excuse for inaction.

Emotional reasoning often justifies the path to our heart’s desire. It’s when we believe our emotional reaction proves something to be true Our susceptibility is greater when we are angry or tired. It’s not fair. I’ll never get this promotion because Joe is more popular/better than me. Emotions are more jet-propelled than rationality so need careful handling. Like all reasoning, stubbornness can stop you from seeing clearly and you get in your own way when you want something too much. For example, unmitigated optimism can be a form of delusion and denial.

Recognize your emotions

According to Geoffrey Roberts, if you struggle to describe your feelings, the intensity of your negative emotions and experiences gets heightened. So, examine your emotions to see what’s driving them when acting on your job and career. Identify how you are feeling when you apply for a job or go for an interview using Roberts’ wheel of emotions. He says that being able to clearly identify how you are feeling has been shown to reduce this intensity of experience because it re-engages your rational mind.

If you struggle to describe your feelings, the intensity of your negative emotions and experiences gets heightened.
DAVID SHINDLER

Reconcile the conflict within

Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable emotion that results from believing two contradictory things at the same time. Like enjoying a cigarette and knowing the damage to health. You can lessen the discomfort for your wellbeing through the choices you make. Like smoking less or moving to vaping.

In job and career terms, it might be that your personal values clash with your organization’s values. Does your emotional reasoning kick in (I’m feeling crap, therefore, it must be crap here) so you’re that grumpy, dissatisfied colleague who people shy away from? Do you resign yourself to accepting that’s just how it is or decide the cost of change will be too great? These responses are ways of hiding an underlying conflict.

But it is possible to manage yourself better. If you are struggling to get the job you want, temper realism with optimism (and vice versa). For example, by keeping your feet on the ground and seeing each job application failure as an opportunity for more insight and understanding about what it takes for you to succeed. Be curious when confused. Be courageous when fearful. Soften your anger with hope – the belief that the future will be better than the present.

Like many things in life, balance is the key and self-awareness is the key to achieving balance. Is your emotional reasoning a block to your career fulfilment? Depersonalise things by consciously adopting an objective, third person perspective. What would your best friend say? What would you advise yourself if you were that best friend?

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