Emotional Control at Work: A Free Introduction to the 7 Work Traits

  • By Jordan B
  • April 2023

The emotional control trait measures a person’s need to openly express their emotions, and the degree to which their emotions influence their behaviour. It also measures a person’s sensitivity to the emotions of others.

Emotional control is the trait which tells us why some people react to events in a highly expressive and emotional way, and why others react in a much more controlled, unemotional way.

The higher someone’s measured emotional control, the more they will strive to be logical and rational and not let their feelings influence their thinking and actions.

The lower someone’s measured emotional control, the more their intuition and emotions influence their decisions and behaviour, and the more they show their feelings outwardly.

People higher in emotion control (High EC) are much more consistently rational and composed and react minimally to stressors. They try to be objective in their decision making and consider the consequences of potential actions before deciding, rather than acting impulsively.

People higher in EC tend to be more focused and consistent, with less of a tendency to get distracted.

High EC people often thrive in roles as engineers, construction workers, therapists, and emergency services.

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Conversely, people lower in emotional control (Low EC) are quick to act on their feelings. They tend to wear their heart on their sleeve, readily communicating their emotional state to others.

People low in EC are quick to identify the emotional state of others and build rapport, encouraging them to communicate openly and honestly.

Low EC people often thrive in roles such as marketing, help desk operators, outside sales, travel agents, and tour guides.

Those with average levels of EC try to balance reason and emotion, assessing the situation and deciding whether a more open or more controlled style is more appropriate.

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When considering the degree of emotional control required for a particular role, it is necessary to consider the behaviours that are desired in the role, as well as the risks and challenges associated with different levels of emotional control.

High Emotional Control can be Cold

High EC people are often slow to show emotion, causing them to appear detached and aloof in more emotionally charged situations. Because of their somewhat fixed and rigid style, they can be read by others as judgmental and unapproachable.

It can be difficult to get to know and develop a connection with people high in emotional control, making it hard for others to tell where they stand with them.

While people who are high in emotional control are rational, controlled, and have a high rate of individual productivity, they may not be well suited for roles where developing a rapport with clients or colleagues is crucial.

Low Emotional Control can be Impulsive

Low EC people tend to “go with their gut.” This results in decisions being made much more quickly, but perhaps with insufficient thought and care. They may respond to situations inconsistently which can be confusing to others and cause them to be read as wishy-washy.

While people low in emotional control are empathetic and compassionate, they are also more sensitive to stressors, and can easily become anxious and emotional when frustrated.

People low in emotional control may be overemotional in roles where interpersonal sensitivity is required but personal composure is also necessary, such as any role which may involve delivering bad news.

When deciding the appropriate level of emotional control necessary for a particular role, it is important to reflect on which behaviours are essential for the role, and which behaviours may be detrimental to that role. We hope this blog has provided some helpful insights you can incorporate into your personnel decisions.

Interested in learning more? Check out the other guides in our free introduction to the 7 work traits.

  • Assertiveness: Directiveness, independence, willingness to take risks, and accountability.
  • Sociability: The need to communicate and influence others.
  • Patience: The need for established processes and predictability and one’s sense of urgency.
  • Detail Orientation: The need for structure, order, and accuracy.
  • Behvaioural Adaptability: Flexibility and versatility in behaviour across environments.
  • Emotional Control: The need to express one’s emotions.
  • Creativity: The need for innovation and ingenuity.

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