Narrating emotions to enhance learning

By: , Ilan Gewurz

Kopelman, S. & Gewurz, I. (2014). Narrating emotions to enhance learning. In McCauley, C.D., DeRue, D.S., Yost, P.R., & Taylor, S. (Eds.) Best Practices for Experience-Based Leadership Development. Wiley. Chapter 30, pp. 187-194.


This chapter outlines how leaders can strategically manage emotions to enhance learning from experience and apply these lessons in the moment. There are three phases in how people go from experiencing social stimuli to embodying an emotional response with all its psychological and physiological dimensions: (1) basic perception or attention to the stimuli that generated the emotion; (2) cognitive appraisal or interpretation of this data; and (3) an onset of physiological experiences. Learning to strategically manage emotions is as essential as pausing to think before speaking or acting. It involves three iterative steps: Leaders can modify their focus and thereby alter what they perceive; they can flexibly reinterpret the event that is taking place; or they can purposefully change the physiological cues to improve their learning potential, especially when pursuing stretch goals that may include emotional side-effects, such as apprehension, anxiety, or overexcitement.