In all of the work we do on emotional intelligence and leadership, perhaps nothing draws more attention, response, and delight as the Junto Emotion Wheel.

When used personally on a regular basis, it builds our self-awareness, and when used with others, it builds our empathy and social awareness. Therefore, it becomes a tool that can improve two levels of our emotional intelligence. But one level that it doesn’t help is our self-management.

A limitation of the Wheel is that it’s simply a gauge: it helps identify how we’re feeling in any given moment but doesn’t tell us what to do, especially when those emotions are mostly negative (fear, anger, sadness, and the bad kind of surprise). It’s similar to the gauges on our car dashboard: they provide data that something is wrong but they don’t explicitly tell us what to do.

As someone who sees, uses, and talks about the Emotion Wheel multiple times a day, I finally discovered what I can do with the “data” I get from it, especially at work. And this has helped build my self-management skills considerably, contributing to my emotional intelligence growth.

If I happen to be in a positive emotional state – feeling mostly joy, love, and/or the good kind of surprise – I typically have positive energy. And when that’s the case, it’s best for me to knock things off my to-do list, inspire or move others, exercise my creativity, and otherwise demonstrate effective self-management.

On the other hand, if I’m in a negative emotional state – feeling mostly fear, anger, sadness and/or the bad kind of surprise – I typically have negative energy. And when that’s the case, it’s best to prevent it from affecting my work and the interactions I have with others.

So I have a choice between two approaches. I can let the negative energy affect me, my work, and others which is not healthy for anyone. Or I can drive the negative energy away by doing things that give me positive energy.

Simply walking away is not a choice because I’m trying to improve my emotional intelligence. And walking away is not effective self-management.