Separate Your Emotions From Their Behaviors

3 minute read

Attaching Your Emotions

“I feel bulldozed,” Joselyn squinted. “When others shared input, he shut them down before they finished talking and he refused to include our feedback in the project timeline. I hate feeling this way, and even worse, I’m frustrated that I didn’t know how to handle it in the meeting.”

Joselyn is a strong, experienced, and influential business leader, and like many of us, still encounters disruptive behavior by peers at work. In fact, she was the third leader this week that brought similar challenges to their coaching sessions, wanting support.

“How do I handle this kind of behavior without avoiding, tolerating, or getting triggered?” Joselyn asked.

The very first tool I brought to the table was pointing out what she was unknowingly doing out of habit. “You started off saying ‘I feel bulldozed.’ Your language shows you’re attaching your emotions to his behavior.”


Articulate this in a way that separates these two things:

“He was ___[bulldozing behavior]____. I felt ___[emotion]___.”

Joselyn’s eyes opened wide! “Yes! I see that now and I totally get it!

Bill was cutting people off and dismissing their input. I felt really frustrated.”

While we covered 4 more things for her to practice in situations like this, separating her emotions from others’ behavior was the big A-HA! for her.

Articulating Behavior

The common problem people have is that they’re operating in Autopilot, expressing frustration about behavior and unaware of the victim mentality they’re unintentionally perpetuating. This is how a person keeps themselves in a place of feeling like they don’t have control which compounds the problem.

Other examples of this language that we encourage leaders to remove from their vocabulary:

Learning how to observe and articulate behavior is key. And it’s something few leaders are skilled in doing.

I Am 100% Responsible For How I Feel

Decoupling others’ behavior from her emotions also reminded Joselyn that she is 100% Responsible for how she feels and that other people’s behavior only has as much influence as she allows it.

Now that she’s decoupling, she’ll be in a stronger position to keep herself centered, in her personal Performance Zone. From here she’s ready and equipped to influence her colleagues in a productive and collaborative way no matter their behavior!

Photo Credit: