Conflict Resolution :: Influence of Emotional Templates

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Regardless of how matter-of-fact or rationally-thinking you are, the intangibles—the emotional elements—have a huge pull in our relationships and in our decisions. The emotional templates we create are powerful influencers.

My Own Example of an Emotional Template

I am fairly task and tangibles oriented. In Myers-Briggs language, I am an INTJ {T = Thinking, J = Judging}. Empathy is somewhere around number 28 out of 34 themes of Talent from the StrengthsFinder. Ask my husband, and he’ll say I am part android.

Somehow though, that does not save me from the grip of emotional panic or influence.

Last week, I received an email from a colleague with the subject: “I’m kinda frustrated.”

Immediately my stomach dropped, my heart started racing and my eyes got fidgety.

He and I had a fairly heated, definitely contentious, conversation a couple weeks back. He gave me some tough feedback. It was hard to hear from someone I respect so highly. And I wasn’t sure if it was fair—or at least if it was universal.

I left the conversation with my heart amped and my mind swirling. I have thought about it A LOT since then.

All that thinking has lead me to question our relationship, his support of me, my trust of him, and my own self-scrutiny.

So, when I received the email last week—“I’m kinda frustrated”—I immediately expected more of the same. As I poised to open the email, I braced for critique and questions. I felt myself instantly hurt and rallying my defenses.

I hadn’t even opened the email yet.

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Turns out, it had nothing to do with me. In fact, it was a request for some ideas from me, for a challenge he was facing. He was asking for my help and support.

Quite the opposite of the railing I braced for.

Based on our one, highly emotional conversation, I had created an emotional template about him that said, “don’t trust him, he doesn’t respect you, your relationship is at stake.”

I was hardly aware of the emotional template. Until it was proven wrong.

What is an Emotional Template?

The concept of an “emotional template” is used in a variety of settings, from injury recovery to sociology. In this context, an emotional template is:

A filter through which we view our relationships, particularly as it relates to our expectations of and senses toward particular people.

Emotional templates about the relationships in our lives are created through experience, both the rational/tangible aspects and the emotional/intangible aspects.

In every circumstance, with every decision, we weigh a variety of factors—sometimes instantly {like your reaction in the case of unexpectedly seeing a colleague outside of work or of your child running up for a hug} and sometimes thoughtfully {like your decision to address the behavior of one of your team members or a career transition consideration}.

These factors are {Tangible}, such as ::

  • Time constraints
  • Priorities
  • Responsibilities
  • Budget
  • Availability
  • Benefits
  • Location
  • Quality

And intangible {Emotional}, such as ::

  • how I feel about the situation
  • past experiences
  • fear
  • trust or lack of trust
  • my needs
  • others’ needs
  • relationships impacted

While most of us would assert that we make rational decisions, the data suggests that our decisions and behaviors are influenced 70% by intangible or emotional factors and only 30% by tangible or rational factors.

tangible and intangible

Similarly, the relationships we build—both personally and professionally—are influenced by the emotional templates we subconsciously create as we interact.

How we feel about someone and their strengths makes all the difference in how well we interact and what we assume about them.

Discover Your Emotional Templates

Explore your own emotional templates to see for yourself how your perception and intangible factors influence your working and home relationships.

{Activity attribution to the amazing Erin Passons}

Emotional Templates Activity

1 :: Think of someone with whom you have a great relationship or working relationship…

What thoughts, feelings, and experiences do you associate with this relationships?

2 :: Think of someone you have worked with whom you have resistance to…

What thoughts, feelings, and experiences do you associate with this relationships?

What did you discover? What does trust look like in these two relationships? How about expectations?

Sometimes, our emotional templates protect us from potentially damaging or unsafe relationships. Often times, however, emotional templates are created by a misperception of talent {or perhaps in combination with a misapplication in talent}.

In the relationship with my colleague, his feedback was merited. And in the end, while initially shocking, he intended that feedback for my own best interest. His Strengths allow him a superpower ability to see what could be better—this is an incredible asset when it is delivered well. When delivered abruptly however, it can be seen as an adept ability to find holes and imperfections. {Any other Maximizers relate to that?!}

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The emotional template I created was built from the 70% intangible not by the verifiable facts, and by both a misperception and over-application of natural talent.

Only by reflection and awareness and a conscious effort is a new, overriding emotional template created. {So, that’s what I’m striving for in this relationship!}

This week, think through your emotional templates, especially as your spidey senses alert you.

What are the driving factors? Is the emotional template getting in the way of productivity or deeper connection? If it is, pare out truth from fact and perception from reality.

Assess what forging a new template might take and the relational connection and pay-out it might yield. Allow your mind to reframe your experiences in the lens of strength.

And begin to make your emotional templates anew.



Links & Resources from today

Also catch the Conflict Resolution series on Audio + Video, on the Isogo TV Podcast, Episodes 62-67 {with added resources}!
Discover your Top 5 Strengths with StrengthsFinder + Strengths Startup

9 Steps to Life-change {FREE Checklist}
{9 Steps} to Life Change through your StrengthsFinder Top 5 Strengths
ITV 56 | Reframe Offenses Through Strength {marriage series 3 of 8}
Erin Passons
Gallup Data and Myers-Briggs 


The Strengths-perspective can impact your marriage, your parenting, and your work!

If you’re into it or you’re just not so sure about it all, reach out, and let’s connect about it. You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all at @isogostrong, by this handy contact form, or in our Energy Up Frustration Down facebook group.

Enjoy your day, and {be strong}!

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