All Articles Leadership Inspiration A leader's 3-step strategy to being less emotional, reactive

A leader’s 3-step strategy to being less emotional, reactive

Wise leaders learn to be proactive rather than reactive. Andrea Mein DeWitt explains her name-claim-reframe strategy.

4 min read


Emotions gauge on curve with unhappy, OK and happy, with strong businesswoman stanidng on happy side pulling the string to make rating gauge happy for article on name, claim and reframe

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What if you could call up the grace of a wise and seasoned leader next time you encounter conflict, adversity or a plot twist you didn’t expect? If you’re like me, showing up with poise and elegance takes practice, especially in the heat of the moment. Our lives move quickly, and we need tools to balance our strength of character with the generosity and kindness we’d like to show the world. While we cannot control the challenges that enter our lives, we can choose to be less emotional and respond to them strategically, resourcefully and gracefully. 

Resourceful leadership is an inside job that means you have the skill to manage your emotions instead of letting your emotions manage you. Successful leaders bounce back faster when adversity strikes because they are able to lead from the inside out with a conscious awareness of where they are emotionally. For all of us, it’s about understanding the why behind our reactive tendencies, claiming actions that align with our core values and then choosing new perspectives that will make it easier to respond to the adversity that we are facing rather than reacting to it. 

Whether it’s an inciting incident that rocks your world, a dysfunctional work environment or a toxic family situation, each of us enters certain situations with a sense of unease, knowing that an unforeseen challenge — be it interpersonal or circumstantial — could cause us to choose an action that we may regret later. To survive (and maybe even thrive) in these tempestuous environments, it’s helpful if you have a structure of support that will enable you to recalibrate an emotional reaction so you can transform it into a more intentional response. 

Navigating life’s challenges to be less emotional

Name, Claim and Reframe is a simple structure I developed to help leaders access their power and potential by first releasing the outdated ways of thinking that no longer worked. Once we understand what is most important, using core values-based leadership, it is easier to create the mindset that will better serve the goals that we have for the future we hope to create. We simply need to name our emotional triggers, claim actions that match our core values and reframe our mindset. This powerful three-step system guides people to: 

NAME the source of your emotional triggers and constrictive thinking. 

  • Why am I reacting to this challenge instead of responding?
  • What uncomfortable emotions or constricted thinking might have been emotionally triggered (in me) by the situation? 
  • What core value boundary might have been violated? 

CLAIM resonant actions that will align with your core beliefs (core values).

  • What action can I take that will help me stay within the integrity of my core beliefs?
  • What changes when I separate my ego from the situation and look at the facts? 
  • What about my actions might have caused the other person to react negatively? 
  • What action could be taken to move forward and stay connected to what is most important for all involved? 

REFRAME your thinking so you can gain new perspectives and proceed with visionary optimism. 

  • What learning can I claim here? 
  • What about this situation is an opportunity for me to use my creativity? 
  • What options will give me the best results? 
  • What about this obstacle can fuel my future goals? 
  • What resources can I bring to this challenge?

Energy-shifting for authentic power  

Believe me, I understand well that when tempers are high and time is of the essence, we might not have time for a lengthy reflection. But we can be less emotional; we can choose to be proactive instead of reactive. If you are short on time, ask yourself: What kind of energy do I want to bring to this situation?

  • Negative think-talk causes you to feel stressed, fearful and overwhelmed.
  • Positive think-talk allows you to feel curious, resourceful and optimistic.

Having simple tools to convert a negative situation into something that harvests new learning, expansive perspectives and maybe even more harmonious interactions for everyone in your orbit is modeling resourceful leadership. The silver lining is that you are helping others elevate to a new way of being!


Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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