To achieve Step 13, individuals will show that they are aware of the effect of their own emotional responses on others and manage them effectively.
In earlier steps, the focus has mainly been on how an individual can manage their own emotional responses to setbacks, and to identify future opportunities and adapt accordingly. This step, and those that follow, focus on the individual now being a leader on staying positive, and supporting others to apply those same techniques.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
This is now an advanced step of Staying Positive, and the focus is shifting from how you stay positive for yourself, to now thinking much more about how you model and support others to stay positive too.
There are lots of situations in which you might need to support others to stay positive. This might include if there has been a setback that affects your team, an individual has received bad news or had a bad experience, or if there are wider challenges affecting people you know or care about.
As humans, we are social animals. That means we are affected by the emotions that other people feel, particularly if we are more empathetic.
You have almost certainly felt this effect yourself. For instance, when the mood of the room changes when someone comes in who is in a different emotional state from everyone else. That might cheer people up if that person is in a good mood, or it might energise them if someone comes in who is demonstrably excited or enthusiastic about what is going on.
The flip side though is that it is equally possible for an individual to introduce negative emotions like anger, sadness or fear into a group setting, simply by showing those emotions themselves. We have all seen examples of how angry people together often become increasingly angry, feeding off one another. Similarly, a sad person can quickly spread that sense of despair among a wider group. Fear is also contagious – one person who feels scared can quickly spread that feeling to others.
The emotional effect of films or television is evidence of that too – we emotionally reflect what we are seeing and hearing.
The good news is that whilst negative emotions can spread quickly, their spread can be stopped by individuals consciously deciding to model a different emotion.
Critically, that is not about suppressing emotions or denying that they exist. This can also be harmful over time if you cannot express how you feel about something.
However, it is possible to acknowledge negative emotions and the situation that has caused them without those emotions taking over. The focus has to be to stop the negative emotional spiral, which is sometimes called catastrophizing – where something going wrong leads to an emotional response leading to the feeling that everything is going wrong and that the worst possible outcomes are going to happen.
For instance, the emotional response to a setback might be to feel that all the other risks that have been identified are now also going to come to happen too. It takes a conscious effort to stop that feeling and to rationalise that something has gone wrong, but actually, there is plenty that is going well and that the setback is contained.
Some good questions to stop a cycle of catastrophizing are:
This sort of self-coaching is an important part of recognising and then managing our own emotions. These emotions can then be shared with other individuals and this discussion extended to them too, to help balance their emotional response.
The flip side of managing negative emotions in the face of a setback is that sometimes we run the opposite of risk: of getting carried away when something goes well.
This can lead to something called hubris or over-confidence – the idea that we now imagine that everything that is good and that we hope for will come to pass, and that the negative risks that we face have gone away.
This can be just as damaging if the feeling is spread across the team more widely. Although it is important to celebrate achievements and enjoy positive feelings with others, it is essential not to get carried away, otherwise future setbacks will hit even harder whilst individuals might not pay enough attention to managing risk and potential problems.
Again, self-coaching can help you to manage your own responses. Some key questions to consider are:
Once you have rationalised your emotional response, you can also take others on that journey of acknowledging and celebrating achievements. This helps keep a balance, not allowing emotions to completely take over.
If you are able to develop strategies whilst in education to help yourself to stay positive in challenging situations, you are likely to also be able to support others too. A learner may have had a setback, had a difficult experience or received some bad news. Therefore, they may be feeling some negative emotions. Negative emotions, such as feeling sad or angry can make learning much more difficult. A learner may be feeling very excitable,possibly over confident, because something has gone well for them. This too can get in the way of theirs, and possibly others, future learning. Being able to manage your own responses will help you, to help them, to return to a more balanced, positive emotional state. This way learning can continue in a much more effective way.
In the workplace we can be affected by the emotional states of those around us. A colleague who is experiencing negative emotions, whether directly related to the work environment or not, can have a big impact at work. Angry people together can often become increasingly angry. Additionally, a person who feels scared can spread that feeling to others. While negative emotions can multiple in the workplace, they can be stopped. It takes just one person to consciously decide to model a different emotion. This doesn’t mean suppressing an emotion or denying any problems exists. It is about acknowledging the problem and the feeling, but not catastrophizing. Solutions to problems can be found. In many organisations line management meetings allow for the coaching of colleagues. By asking key questions when things go wrong and negative feelings as are felt, a more balanced emotional response can be gained and solutions explored.
There are lots of situations in which you might need to support others to stay positive. As humans we are social, meaning we can all be affected, to a greater or lesser extent, by the emotions that others feel. Being able to manage your own emotional responses in challenging situations means you can also support others to keep a balance and not allow emotions to completely take over. By asking some careful key questions, such as those below, we can coach ourselves, and others through challenging times.
To best practise this step of Staying Positive, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be reinforced whenever learners have an emotional reaction to something. It could become a good habit for teachers to remind them to think about how they can manage their own emotions or to deal with difficulties.
This step is best assessed through discussion and reflection with learners about the topics that have been addressed above. This can include reflections from the learners about why these techniques are important and how they allow an individual to support others to stay positive too.
In addition, it can be observed over time whether learners can manage their emotional responses in this way, so as not to adversely affect others.
This step will be relevant to individuals who have to work as part of a team, and adapt to changing situations.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through collecting feedback and having reflective discussions. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: