On Your Mission… To Be Emotionally Agile and Change Your Reputation

by Tim Rinaldi
2 min read

Do you find yourself facing the same emotional struggles in your career time and time again?

Has it led you to give your colleagues the wrong impression?

Do you fear that it’s more than just a wrong impression, it’s your reputation at work, and it won’t go away?

I decided to include two articles from the Harvard Business Review in this post because of the similarities in their message: Emotional Agility, by Susan David and Christina Congleton, and You Really Can Change Your Reputation at Work, by Carolyn O’Hara. In Emotional Agility, they explained how so many people struggle with their negative emotions, either buying into them or doing anything they can to suppress them, while the most effective leaders instead practice what they call emotional agility. David and Congleton analyzed two individuals who previously struggled with their negative emotions and suggested these four practices to enable us to also achieve this emotional agility: 

  1. Recognize our patterns – are there certain colleagues or circumstances that regularly cause our negative emotions to flare up?
  2. Label our thoughts and emotions – rather than allowing them to define us (the fixed mindset), we should recognize their presence so we can determine how to act on them
  3. Accept these thoughts and emotions – by first accepting them, we prevent these negative emotions from controlling us and our response
  4. Act on our values – then, by understanding what matters most to us, we can determine the best response to these negative emotions

However, one hindrance to adopting these practices and achieving emotional agility is the fear that our previous struggles with negative emotions define us at work – this was the focus of O’Hara’s article, You Really Can Change Your Reputation at Work. She identified these six steps to successfully change your reputation:

  1. Be upfront about the issue – rather than hiding from it, address the issue head on with your colleague and apologize or be resolute that it need not be a concern 
  2. Don’t get defensive – instead, focus your energy on conveying who you really are 
  3. Look for opportunities to work together – your words likely won’t be enough to change their opinion; make sure you also walk the walk 
  4. Go above and beyond – the status quo will not be enough to change a harmful reputation
  5. Find common ground – help your colleagues to see your similarities, especially as they relate to your goals, so they can remember you’re on the same team
  6. Have patience – finally, don’t get discouraged or give up if it takes longer than you expected to change your reputation; focus on the end goal, create an action plan, and recognize and celebrate the small wins along the way!

Remember, whether your reputation is warranted or not, your past mistakes don’t define you. By adopting the growth mindset, you can see this as an opportunity to demonstrate resilience and your value to your team.

This is a very short summary, so I highly recommend reading Emotional Agility and You Really Can Change Your Reputation at Work to determine how you can grow in these areas. Then ask yourself – how can you be on your mission to not just improve your reputation but to be a model for others, and what impact will that have on your career?

You can learn more from Susan David and complete the Emotional Agility quiz on her website: https://www.susandavid.com/

How can I get better?

My mission is to impact as many people as I can from what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown in my career. If you have any feedback on how I can do that better (about my writing style, other books/articles/videos I should check out, etc.), I’d love to hear it!

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