How your emotional state impacts your operating style

By: Kyla Slen, VP of Operations

Whether or not you realize it; your emotional state impacts your operating style. First, there are your primary drivers, which are stability and expertise. These are essentially your level of stress and your level of self-confidence. Then, there are secondary drivers, which are compromise, avoidance, and accommodation, which fundamentally impact how you engage in situations and conversations.

In understanding these drivers and how they impact your emotional state, you will be able to better adjust the way you operate so you engage and function in a more effective way. When you are more emotionally engaged, you have a much better chance of being effective and successful. Let’s take a deeper look into the primary drivers of your emotional state.

Primary drivers: Stability and expertise

Stability is a primary driver relating to levels of stress. People in the effective range of stability are properly engaged, grounded, and consistent and stable under pressure. However, when people have stability scores above or below the effective range, this means they are either too comfortable or too stressed, and they are not operating in an efficient and effective manner. It is important to identify your stability level and the relating factors so you can bring it down, or move it up into the effective range.

People with low stability scores are too stressed and unstable. They tend to worry a lot and put a lot of pressure on themselves and others. Although these people are often action-oriented and can react with a strong sense of urgency, their behavior can be unpredictable which creates stress for others in the workplace. They are also more susceptible to mood swings and will show a high level of inconsistency. The key for these people to adjust their stability and get back into the effective range would be to manage their stressors and identify and eliminate the issues causing them stress. When they feel caught up in a situation that leads to elevated stress levels, they need to develop mechanisms to limit these situations or learn to manage them.But first, they need to recognize that these problems exist.

On the other hand, people with high stability scores are very comfortable and stable, and may sometimes be too laid back and lack urgency. These people do not react emotionally to shifting circumstances and because of this they can act as a grounding point for others when organizations experience rapid change. However, they also take a laissez-faire approach and operate within their own comfort zone and don’t engage with their colleagues frequently and consistently, which may result in complacent and passive behavior.

In order for these people to operate in a more efficient and effective way, they should be more willing to provide value and work to engage more often with relevance. These people should also work to demonstrate a sense of urgency, which will benefit not only themselves, but others within the workplace.

Expertise is the other primary driver which relates to self-confidence. People in the effective range of expertise are knowledgeable, confident, and able to instill confidence in others because they know what they are talking about and they exude confidence. When people are below or above the effective range of expertise, they are either too confident or have no self-confidence, which keeps them from operating effectively and efficiently.

People who have low expertise scores have very little or no self-esteem. They do not engage effectively because they are too worried of how others will perceive them. Even though these people are friendly, approachable, and very eager to learn, they are also very risk-averse and will question their own abilities. This can cause others to lose confidence in them as they sense the lack of internal confidence and judgment. In order for these people to get into the effective range of expertise, they should step up and make decisions and stop being overly critical of their own ideas and abilities. To do this they will need to find the factors in their lives that have created low self-confidence.They should take calculated risks and become more familiar of their responsibilities and how they can interact in a more relevant and productive way.

People with high expertise scores, however, have very high self-confidence. These people tend to be more inflexible and arrogant. The advantage of people with high expertise scores is they are more inclined to step out and influence others in sharing their knowledge. They are also prepared to take on complex tasks and will be successful in doing so. Yet high expertise results in ineffective engagement and can negatively affect the operating style because others may feel disconnected and reluctant to share their thoughts with them.

In order for these people to get back into the effective range, they should be more likeable and approachable, while managing confidence.This could be difficult for people with high dominance scores, strong egos, and the need to control situations.They should more willingly accept third party feedback and try to better manage their confidence. Ultimately, these people can offset their high expertise scores by having high social skills, strong interpersonal skills, and the ability to show compassion. This will result in more effective engagement with others in the workplace, causing a more efficient operational environment for all.

Secondary drivers: Compromise, avoidance and accommodation

Compromise is a learned behavior and a secondary driver to the emotional model. People who are effective at utilizing compromise are open minded, willing to listen, and collaborative without being a pushover. These people create an optimal or best case situation, not because they always look to create that particular outcome, but because they allow for the best situation to occur.

People below the effective range are inflexible, stubborn, and shut down communication. They are poor listeners and do not allow for the effective exchange of information. On the other hand, people above the effective range tend to give in too easily and may easily be taken advantage of because they are oftentimes pushovers. While being below or above the effective range can have some advantages, ultimately it results in a less effective operating style.

People with low compromise scores should be more open-minded and open up communication. They need to stop assuming people know what they’re thinking, as this will result in a much more effective working environment. People with high compromise scores should be more inquisitive and more accepting of taking on risk. In order to be more efficient and effective, they should engage more in the process by sharing ideas, views, and perspectives, rather than depriving the organization of their insights and critical thinking.

Accommodation is the final learned behavior and secondary driver to the emotional model. People who are effective at utilizing accommodation will challenge situations and look for ways to improve what they have encountered. They soothe feelings to avoid tension and offer conciliatory suggestions so others feel more comfortable and are willing to work with them.People with low accommodation scores are argumentative, defensive, critical and don’t let things just slide by—they hold people accountable.

On the other hand, people with high accommodation scores are overly sensitive and can be too soft in conflict. They are also unable to hold others accountable so they are perceived as “too nice.” Being above or below the effective range of accommodation will result in inefficient operating styles. In order for people with low accommodation scores to rise up into the effective range, they need to learn to set stubbornness aside and be more relevant and constructive with their approach. They need to add value, not opposition. People with high accommodation scores need to engage in the development and refinement of ideas and challenge peers in a productive way in order to drop back down into the effective range.

Avoidance is also a learned behavior. People who are effective at utilizing avoidance are action-oriented, quick, and direct with feedback, handle conflict with forthrightness, and resolve issues in an effective and efficient manner. People below the effective range are tactless, quick tempered, and lack diplomacy and sensitivity. While they give feedback regularly and are action-oriented, they have a tendency to be too direct and can be viewed as bullies and may come across so strongly that it’s ineffective. People above the effective range do not engage; they procrastinate and they are adverse to conflict and confrontation. They may eventually deal with conflict, just later down the road and in a more calm and collaborative approach, which can sometimes be beneficial. However, it can also be a disadvantage because some issues may go unresolved. In order for people with low avoidance scores to reach the effective range, they should get over feeling like they have to take control all the time and let others have a chance to be relevant or have an impact. They key for people with high avoidance scores to reach the effective range is to be more engaging and participate more. They also need to make sure they communicate any relevant information that would be helpful to others within the workplace.


It is important for people to understand and be aware of how their primary and secondary drivers are impacting their emotional state. When you are aware of your feelings and the way you engage in situations and conversations, you are better able to adjust the way you operate so that you do so in a utilizing talents with greater frequency. For example, some people do not even realize they are stressed because they live in a constant state of stress and they have become accustomed to it so it’s just part of how they operate.

This is not a healthy or effective way to live. If these people learn to become aware of their stress levels, they will be able to better determine and understand the underlying factors and work to find a balance so they can operate within the effective range. Others are what could be termed “tough nuts,” who have lower compromise and low accommodation.They are positioned with no desire to meet the needs of others.They make themselves less accessible and less relevant.Remember, the more emotionally engaged you are, the more effective and successful you will be.

Note: Scores and behaviors referenced in this article refer to characteristics defined in the EurekaConnect Behavioral Dynamics program