Intellect and Emotions: Often at Odds when Decision Making

Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting one of Oprah’s producers after a presentation I gave on the “Components of Constructive Decision Making.”  He approached me and basically said, “All of the decision-making theories that I’ve heard in the past focus on the intellectual component of decision making. But you deal with the emotions. And, while most of us intellectually know what we should do in a given situation, when strong emotions come into play, we often make terrible decisions. If you can show people how to separate their emotions from their decision-making processes, you will be able to help a great many people and thus make a real contribution!”

His words not only offered some much-appreciated encouragement, they also highlighted the fact that two distinctly different influences can play major roles when you make life choices:

  1. Your intellect, or what you know and think; and
  2. Your emotions, urges, and impulses, as well as what you feel.

These two influences can be at odds with one another when a person is faced with an important life choice, and I discuss these components of decision making throughout my book, Your Killer Emotions. What you will learn and begin to practice is the ability to allow your intellect and your emotions to act in concert. When they do, you are able to attain your most dearly beloved goals and live the life you dream about.

Let . What you will learn and begin to practice is the ability to allow your intellect and your emotions to act in concert. When they do, you are able to attain your most dearly beloved goals and live the life you dream about.

Let me illustrate this point with an example that most of us can relate to. Many of us are faced with the daily challenge of making healthy or unhealthy choices. From the moment we get up, we begin making a series of decisions that can be heavily influenced by our emotions even when our intellect tries to lead us in the better direction.

  • Do I get in some exercise before starting my day or blow it off?
  • At lunch, do I go for the roasted turkey half sandwich or the double cheeseburger?
  • I’m feeling hungry and tired in the late afternoon. Do I grab a cup of coffee and a candy bar or take a quick walk around the office and eat some fruit and mixed nuts?

When making these decisions throughout your day, you will often receive conflicting information from your intellect and your emotions. Your intellect knows that getting daily morning exercise benefits your body, helps you have more energy throughout the day, and improves your mood. However, when the alarm rings early in the morning, your emotions are begging you to skip all of that sweating and sleep in!

Harmonious collaboration of your intellect and emotions is the goal. Your Killer Emotions will teach you how to come to a place where your intellect and your emotions lead you to the same decision through diligent practice and performance of the skill sets presented.


Dealing with Family: Tips for Reducing Tension with Your Extended Family

If you dread getting together with your extended family, you are certainly not alone, but you may be able to make things better the next time you all gather around the table for dinner, celebrate a holiday, or take a vacation together. You may be able to improve the situation greatly by addressing your emotions head-on and learning skills that will help you better cope with a stressful family dynamic.

When dealing with your extended family, keep the following tips in mind to make the most of your time together and avoid ugly confrontations and tension:

  • Remember this is temporary. You will only be around your extended family for a limited amount of time and will, presumably, have a long stretch of time between visits.
  • Keep your children in mind when interacting with other family members. You don’t want your kids thinking it’s okay to bicker with someone nonstop, and you don’t want them to wonder why things are always so tense when Uncle Joe is around. Also, try not to bad-mouth the family member in front of your children after the family leaves. It sets a poor example for your kids.
  • Keep your spouse in mind too. If the source of your family stress is your spouse’s sibling or parent, don’t lose sight of the fact that though this person may annoy or aggravate you, he or she means a great deal to your spouse. Put yourself in his or her shoes and imagine what it would feel like to have two people you love dearly at odds with one another.
  • Try to find some good things to focus on about the family member(s) who are causing your emotional reaction. It’s easy to lose sight of the positive attributes of a person when you react emotionally to one aspect of that person’s personality.
  • Communicate with your family member about the problem if at all possible. Go to neutral territory, such as a coffee shop, and talk openly and honestly about the issue that is driving a wedge between you and affecting the family dynamic. Allow time for the other person to talk and really listen to what he or she has to say.
  • Remember that you are only in charge of your own emotions, not others’. You may get very lucky and be successful at getting another person to change his or her behavior, but you have a very good chance of success at modifying your own behavior. You have full control over you and only you. Focus on your actions and reactions rather than the family member’s actions.

Tension among family members is a very common problem faced by many of us. You can help make family time more enjoyable by taking responsibility for your emotions. For more information on mastering your toxic emotions, pick up a copy of my book, Your Killer Emotions.

How to Deal with Rejection

“If you don’t go up to bat, you can’t get a hit,” is a much-cited cliché. A corollary to this reality, is that, if you go up to bat and put yourself on the line, you won’t always get the job; the order; the client; the promotion; and/or the raise. No one always succeeds!

Knowing this, the questions to ask are: So, what happens when you get rejected? How do you deal with rejection? Do you handle it constructively and strategically; or do you let your toxic emotions cloud your best judgment and evaluative processes, and make a self-sabotaging career choice and thereafter act on it to your great detriment?

In my book, Your Killer Emotions:  The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses That Sabotage You, I discuss The ”7 Steps of Emotion Mastery,” which enable you to make highly beneficial workplace choices – free from sabotaging emotions and feelings, such as rejection. Here are some suggestions to accomplish this:

1. Don’t Make Emotional Decisions

First and foremost: DO NOT make an important decision or choice when you are overcome with feelings of rejection, hurt, embarrassment, disrespect, hopelessness,and the like. Always, stop, cool down, and, as they say, “take the pause that refreshes.” Additionally, DO NOT opt for an immediate, emotional quick fix, such as reacting destructively, lashing out, and/or retaliating.

Oftentimes, we opt for these short-term satisfactions, but in the big picture of our lives and careers, these unthinking, emotion-generated reactions are counter and highly detrimental to accomplishing what we truly want for our careers in the long term (our Gold Ring Dreams).

2. Learn Why You Were Rejected

Experiencing rejection is often the first step to attaining great success! The key to enjoying post-rejection success, is to openly, honestly, and toxic emotion-free, learn why you were rejected or didn’t attain your goal. Securing this feedback, is essential for you to adjust your mindset; fix your missteps; and enable you to develop a new, more appropriate, and effective game plan and set of behaviors. I cannot count how many times my clients didn’t get a position; learned from the process; and improved themselves.

At some point thereafter, they interviewed for a (better) position, with their new and improved arsenal of skills; nailed the interview, and secured a wonderful new position. As a result, the initial rejection – when viewed constructively – turned out to be an excellent learning experience; and a wonderful gift and blessing.

The P.E.P. Talk

This article is part of our P.E.P. Talk Series. Over the next month, some of the brightest and best authors, business professionals, and coaches are coming together to share their valuable advice for breaking free of “The Golden Handcuff Effect” so you can take full ownership of your careers and experience Professional Emancipation.

Ken Lindner is the author of Your Killer Emotions: The 7 Steps to Mastering the Toxic Emotions, Urges, and Impulses that Sabotage You, which can be purchased from and

(Originally appeared on, March 2013)