Patnaude Coaching

Emotions Affect Behavior, Like it or Not


Emotions affect behavior, like it or not. People who think they are able to keep emotion separate from their behavior choices are fooling themselves. The evidence is everywhere. Fear is a big one that impacts how we behave. But many people don’t recognize fear as a motivator for their behavior. Instead, they focus on what rises to the surface, which usually involves an attempt to use logic to justify that behavior.

Let’s go right to it.

In honor of Pride Month starting, I’m going to use my rainbow family as an example. But this applies to you at work, too. Fear stopped me (until recently) from accepting that my 17-year old child is nonbinary. I used superficial logic-based reasons for my discomfort with using they/them pronouns.

It’s not grammatically correct.

What will the family say?

Are you sure?

Yeah, not pretty but very, painfully honest.

What I came to understand was that my reaction was based on fear—fear of what other people would think/say/do; fear of what this means for how I imagined my child’s future; fear of something I don’t fully understand.

What I also came to understand is that by allowing my emotion (fear) to control my behavior, I was hurting my child. Once that clicked, it was easy to get on board with using they/them pronouns and remembering that what other people think is none of my business.

Practical Application for Everyone.

We don’t always recognize the ways in which our emotions impact our behavior. We move too fast, racing to meet the next deadline or make it to the next meeting. We usually just notice the outcomes. When we don’t get the result we wanted, we might scratch our heads and look quickly for the fastest, simplest explanation. But that doesn’t always provide the real answer to what’s really happening. To find that out, we must reflect. Go deep. Think about the ways in which your emotions are feeding your behavior choices.

But the worst part of failing to make these connections between emotions and behavior? The ways in which it affects those around us. When we don’t take the time or make the effort to understand what’s at the root cause of not getting the outcome we expected, we’re missing a huge opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to grow and learn, thus improving our interactions and the relationships all around us.

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