Are you the type of leader who tries to make decisions based solely on “the facts?” Do you purposely ignore your feelings when making critical choices? According to our research, ignoring your feelings can actually stand in the way of making the best decisions possible. Instead of discounting your feelings, become aware of how managing them can be used to support your decision-making process.

The goal of managing your emotions is not to suppress unpleasant ones or to perpetually feel good. Instead, the objective is to draw insight and understanding from whatever emotions and related feelings are bubbling up in the moment. Listen to them and integrate the information with other relevant input to discern both what is happening and how you feel about it. Then, using that information, you can more wisely choose to act rather than react. The main point is that when you are able to properly decipher and integrate complex emotional data, you have a much better grasp of the full range of choices before you. As a leader, this will help you make better decisions for your team and the business.

To gain an awareness of your feelings and emotions, and to give them names and identities so that you can make wise decisions, try implementing the following practices:

1. Before important decisions are made, consider the following questions:

  • What is my emotional brain saying to me about this decision?
  • What is my current emotional state?
  • Do the emotions I am currently feeling help or hurt my ability to make the right decision

2. Delay, postpone, defer any important decision until the emotions you’re feeling, both positive and negative, have cooled enough so as to not cloud your rational thinking ability. Put simply, avoid hot-minded decisions.

3. Avoid making important decisions when you are tired, hungry or sleep. Your physical well-being, emotional well-being, mental well-being and spiritual well-being are all connected and can powerfully influence the choices you make.

4. To distance yourself from emotional biases that could cloud or distort decision-making, coach yourself from the third person. Coaching yourself from your own name can provide more distance and objectivity than “I” or “you” self-coaching.

5. Use exercise and movement to reset your emotional state, thereby allowing more constructive emotional understandings and insights to surface.

6. Meditation, deep breathing and any activity that contributes to a meaningful emotional reset has real value in decision making. Quieting the mind allows your capacity for reflective consciousness to assist in decoding emotional messages connected to an important decision.

7. Use humor to change a toxic internal chemistry that will likely distort or undermine the choices you’re about to make. Funny movies, hysterical podcasts, etc. can change a negative mood within seconds.

8. Intentionally changing how you think about something or someone (your mindset) can trigger significant changes in how you feel. When destructive emotions such as jealousy, envy and pride interfere with your decision making, it deliberately creates a different story in your mind. Different stories (still based in fact) and different interpretations can lead to powerful shifts in ongoing feelings and emotions.

Now here’s our final piece of advice. Before making any important decision, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers will help guide your choices:

  • Am I overreacting or underreacting emotionally regarding this decision?
  • Have I fairly weighed the facts and feelings on both sides of the decision?
  • Am I certain that the facts I’m working with that have produced the feelings I have are grounded in reality?
  • Is this the right time to make this decision given my current emotional state?
  • Am I hiding or concealing any important feelings from myself pertaining to this decision?

Imagine what you will likely feel in three months, one year, five years or 25 years regarding this decision. Consider your answers to the questions above. Then, you will be best positioned to make the right decision for you, your team and the organization.