Managing your emotions with Steph Tranter

Podversation transcript:

Hi, my name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, The Strengths Guy, Doctor of Organisational Psychology and founder and Chair of Strengthscope. Today, I’m excited to welcome back to the show Steph Tranter.

Now a couple of years back, Steph very kindly talked about her experience of using strengths in her consulting work and that conversation is Podversation 19 – Making strengths work for your business. It remains one of our most downloaded podversations, so do please check it out.

But today, I want to get more into what Steph focuses on as part of her consultancy work – helping people manage their emotions more effectively.  Welcome back Steph!

Another thing to say is that this is the first podversation that we’re recording on video so as ever Steph, you’re trailblazing – this means that listeners will also be able to watch our convo, as well as listen to it on all the major podcast platforms.

Before we get into the meat of managing emotions, I wanted to ask you Steph if you could to give us a bit more detail on your business – what you do, who you work with and what you love about work most of all. A quick summary would be awesome.

Exec Coach – working for myself for 11.5 years . But describe myself as a hybrid exec coach, as my approach is to merge the worlds of coaching and therapy. I don’t believe I can help someone with any work based issue or goal, if we don’t look at the whole person, and the whole person will also include their emotions. So I think I’ll often go a bit deeper into the realms of emotions and other elements you might find in the therapy room to help my clients when they are trying to reach a work-based goal.

Background in retail and leadership development. Now I coach senior leaders across a variety of industries in things like being at career cross-roads, being more you as a leader, and building emotional resilience. In last 5 years done more work in world of sport – which I’ve loved.

Oh and I’m a highly emotional person, I feel and express emotions probably way too openly, and sometimes when I’d rather not. So everything I’m going to talk about I have tried on myself as well as with my clients, and it has made me far more adept at managing my own often unruly emotions – I have one of the lowest emotional control strengths ever!

  1. Let’s talk about managing emotions, or emotional management. This comes up a lot for people I’m coaching. Perhaps because they have unwanted emotions that are getting in the way in work or at home. Sometimes because their emotions are visible to colleagues and it’s having an effect on their reputation or work relationships. Here’s my first two questions, what are emotions and can we manage them?

Key idea here is of having unwanted emotions. Unfortunately if you are human, you will have emotions. So not wanting them is the first hurdle to overcome.

Emotions are natural and we all have them. Some feel and express more than others, but we all have them.

The purpose of emotions is to help us survive. But we’re taught from a young age that we shouldn’t show them, in addition, a lot of them are not always nice to feel, and so we push them away, fight or ignore them. Because no-one taught us about why we have them and how to interact with and manage them. Just that they are bad. I also hate that we call some negative and some positive emotions. That is instantly unhelpful as it puts a judegment on them. I prefer to call them comfortable and uncomfortable emotions. Some we like some we don’t like.

There’s lots of ways to manage them, and a short summary would be:

  1. Understand them – what are all the emotions, why do they show up in us, each emotion has a reason for beng there, brings about an urge to act and all have a physiological signature – ie shows up in our bodies. So if you understand more about them that’s the first bit. And it helps us to be reassured there’s nothing wrong with you, this is all part of being human.
  2. Name and more importantly – Accept you are feeling an emotion and name the one you feel. We often say we’re stressed when we’re feeling an emotion – this can be catch all for all emotions, you’re annoyed at someone, you say they are really stressing you out, you’re worried you say you’re really stressed… so replace the word stress with what the actual emotion is. Better chance of dealing with it then.
  3. Find ways to express that emotion in a safe way (emotions are meant to be short lived, but if we don’t express them then they stay around in the background causing all sorts of physical and psychological problems) – safe ear person is a great place to start – can say more about why it’s important to get the emotion out later (or now – but emotions have an important impact on our brain and body which if they are not expressed can cause lots of short and long term problems).


  1. How do you help your clients deal with their emotions more than effectively? What approach do you use to investigate emotions? What techniques do you have for emotional management?

Explain all the stuff about emotions that I just mentioned

Talk about what happens in the brain when we have emotions and therefore why it’s important to prioritise managing them.

Some have it on their objectives – overcome fear of what’s stopping me, reduce the anxiety I feel, or control my anger more. Some don’t know they need it on their objectives so part of the initial coaching session will be for me to look out for any signs that they might need help with emotion management.

Explore what emotion they feel, how it shows up in them, what triggers it

Help them get familiar with the way emotions show up in them and what works for them in terms of managing them – it’s a very individual thing.

Make sure we’re working on the right emotion, many people come to me with problems with anxiety but when we unpick it, the emotion they feel is often anger, but they’ve got into a habit of converting that into anxiety because it’s amore acceptable emotion to feel. – they don’t consciously make that choice, but I see it time and time again. So they end up managing the wrong emotion.

  1. Bit of an academic question maybe but how do you feel all this links to emotional intelligence? What is that even anyway?

I think the answer is yes it does link, but I think we need to be clearer on what we mean by emotional intelligence. Because I think all that I do with people is raise their emotional awareness and ability to deal with emotions in a healthy and sustainable way. And I would call that developing emotional intelligence (and more I guess). But I’m not sure if that is the official definition of EI??


  1. Where are the boundaries with this type of work for you as a coach? For example, if someone is really struggling to manage their emotions and it’s starting to cause issues for them at work or home?

I think you need to define your own boundaries as a coach (within reason). What do you feel confident and comfortable dealing with, and what don’t you feel comfortable with. And being open with the client.

I’ve worked with people who have been diagnosed with depression and on anti-depressants, and I’ve helped them come off the tablets and deal with the depression more effectively in less medicated ways. But at the same time there have been people in the same situation that I did not feel I could help them. So it’s client and context specific I think.

Sometimes I’ve said – look I think I can help, but this is going beyond anything I’ve worked with before, and I’m not officially qualified to work in this arena.  Are you happy to go there with me and see how we get on, knowing that we can both stop if we don’t feel it’s working?

It’s about the relationship you build with your client and the honesty and trust you build that can help shape the decision on whether to go there or not.


  1. If people want to get in touch with you, what are the best ways to do that?


  1. What are your Top 3 tips and takeaways for listeners?
  2. educate yourself on why we have emotions – see my guide to managing emotions –
  3. get really aware of which emotions show up in you regularly and how they show up in you, stop caling everything stress
  4. Accept don’t push emotions away – and find ways to express them in a safe way

(get a person who can be a safe ear)



The Chimp Paradox – Steve Peters

Brené Brown – Atlas of the Heart

Dr Erin Olivio – Wise mind Living

Paul Gilbert – the compassionate mind

Paul Ekman website – atlas of emotions –

Marc Brackett – Mood Meter app