December 9, 2020

132: Understanding and Managing Emotions

Emotions are useful information if only we know how to understand and navigate them. When we take the time to become ‘emotion scientists’ and explore what it really is that we, or our colleagues, are feeling, we open doors to stronger relationships, better decisions, and healthier lives.

This week, I share what I learned from the book Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett. I cover the RULER process, the Mood Meter and other techniques to making the most of your, and others’, emotions.

The full episode guide includes an overview of the RULER process, questions for reflection and suggested actions. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community or purchase the full guide at If you join before December 31, 2020, get one month of membership at the same level to give to the person of your choosing.

Get the free mini-guide at

Read the related blog article: Five Steps to Effectively Dealing With Emotions

Key Takeaways:

  • Americans have not developed the skills to effectively understand and manage their own or others’ emotions.
  • Humans are notoriously bad at accurately interpreting others’ behavior. Instead, we make assumptions about the emotions and causes.
  • RULER is an approach to help you understand emotions and follow a process to explore and manage them.
  • R: Recognize – acknowledge the current emotional state. It start with noticing what the predominant feeling is based on energy and pleasantness.
  • The mood meter is a tool that helps people identify their emotional state based on energy level and pleasantness. There are 4 quadrants: Yellow = high energy, high pleasantness; Green = low energy, high pleasantness; Red = high energy, low pleasantness; Blue = low energy, low pleasantness.
  • U: Understand – once you have a general sense of what you’re feeling, you can explore why you feel that way. What is the root cause? What past experiences are influencing your current feelings?
  • L: Label – It’s important to find the right language to describe your emotions. The mood meter can help you and others determine the most precise feelings.
  • Stress is often a catch-all for multiple different emotions. By differentiating between the true emotion such as pressure, anxiety, or overwhelm, can help you more effectively deal with that emotion.
  • Each emotional state has different causes and remedies. You can’t effectively respond to someone else’s emotions if you don’t know what they’re specifically feeling and why.
  • E: Express – How we show emotion is important. Most people don’t feel comfortable showing emotion, especially at work. A more healthy practice is to find healthy ways to communicate what we’re feeling so that others can empathize and respond appropriately.
  • R: Regulate – We experience emotions constantly. People skilled at emotion management know how to regulate their emotional system and use emotions productively. Regulation skills range broadly from avoidance to breathing deeply, so it’s important to discover what works for you.

Additional Resources:

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