We will write a custom Essay on Emotional Reactivity and Tips to Mitigate Its Effects specifically for you
301 certified writers online
Unarguably communication is among the most critical skills for one’s personal and professional life. However, most people fail to be good listeners, which often leads to misunderstandings and conflicts. Nichols’ book offers a new perspective on the development of listening skills by assessing the important components and strategies that one can adopt to improve interpersonal interactions. This paper aims to discuss emotional reactivity, provide a personal example of it affecting communication, and examine Nichols’ advice on mitigating the effects of it.
Definition of Emotional Reactivity
Emotional reactivity is anxiety that arises in cases when an individual says something triggering. Because this component is connected to each person’s perception, one can argue that reactivity may affect some people in specific occasions, while others would not be subjected to it under similar circumstances. According to Nichols, this is the primary reason that affects communication between people and results in the inability to listen to the other speaker (176). From this explanation, it can be concluded that the reaction to other individual’s words in the primary issue that enables emotional reactivity.
It is necessary to examine why reactivity emerged in the first place to understand strategies that can help overcome this issue. Nichols states that the mechanism of emotional reactivity exists as a way to defend oneself against verbal attacks from people (187). However, the nature of communication requires one to expose himself or herself to situations that may trigger anxiety; therefore, it is crucial to identify strategies that can help overcome it.
The first example of emotional reactivity affecting my encounters this week is a criticism I received from my friend. I asked her to proofread an essential essay for a class and provide me with her feedback on which parts can be improved. Although I initiated the conversation, once this friend became explaining the specific mistakes I made I became anxious. However, having read Nichols’ explanation of emotional reactivity, I was able to avoid conflict and asked this friend to postpone the discussion until I was able to continue.
The second occurrence is connected to the reactivity of another person, which allowed me to understand the implication of it from a different perspective. The situation occurred when my friend described a conflict he had with a colleague. In this conversation, I expressed the idea that my friend’s opponent was correct, which caused disagreement. However, I was able to understand that in that case, the friend in question wanted to be listened to, which lead to anxiety from unwanted advice. Nichols states that empathy is curial in communication, which should help a person listen to another individual’s feelings (185).
Therefore, in this case, the understanding of emotional reactivity helped me improve my communication skills. Nichols’ text provides an understanding of the fact that the adverse effects of emotional reactivity can be mitigated through the application of several strategies, which will be discussed above.
Strategies to Overcome Emotional Reactivity
Primarily, one should identify what caused emotional reactivity, for instance, specific attitudes in the family such as criticism can be the root of this problem. The understanding of this can help react to triggers better (187). Also, examining the reasons why another person responds in a specific way can help plan ahead and build a conversation more appropriately. I applied this approach in the second scenario, by analyzing my friend’s reaction and thinking about our prior communication. The challenge was to avoid overreacting and focus on listening to his story and being empathic, however, this approach did work.
Additionally, it is necessary to accept that a particular reaction causing emotional reactivity exists, instead of trying to avoid them. Nichols advises to be respectful of oneself and also understand that others have a right to be themselves (193). In essence, the author emphasizes the importance of accepting personal reactions to specific aspects of the conversation. However, this does not mean that others should change their attitudes specifically to fit the personal preferences of an individual. I tried applying this strategy in the first case when reacting to criticism for my essay. The challenge was to understand that the friend was not attacking my work but rather providing constructive criticism regarding the aspect that can be improved.
While this strategy did help me avoid a conflict, I was unable to continue the conversation due to the difficulties of accepting the initial reaction, which is the primary challenge of this approach. This suggestion requires additional work, and I plan on trying to apply it in the future by reminding myself to be respectful of other’s feelings and reactions to my words. Nichols’ suggestions are good because he provides an explicit explanation of the mechanisms that lead to the development of emotional reactivity and specific strategies that can help mitigate it.
Overall, as a concept, emotional reactivity explains the primary reason which obstructs one person from listening to another. It is crucial to understand that this component can hurt communication between individuals. Nichols’s approach to overcoming the issue is based on the explanation of mechanisms that caused it. Therefore, one should be accepting of personal reactions apply a similar approach when evaluating the responses of others.
Nichols, Michael. The Lost Art of Listening: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships. 2nd. ed., The Guilford Press, 2009.