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Mastering Emotional Reasoning: A Key to Expansive and Responsible Decision-Making


In the realm of decision-making, emotions often play a significant role, influencing our choices in ways we may not always consciously recognize. Emotional reasoning, the ability to use emotional information from oneself and others in decision-making processes, can greatly impact the quality and outcomes of our decisions. This article delves into the importance and aspects of emotional reasoning skills and how they contribute to making well-rounded and responsible decisions.

Understanding Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning involves the integration of emotional cues, both from within oneself and from others, into the decision-making process. Rather than solely relying on logic and facts, emotional reasoning acknowledges the valuable insights that emotions provide. It recognizes that emotions can signal important information about our values, preferences, and potential consequences, which may not be immediately apparent through analytical reasoning alone.

Importance of Emotional Reasoning

Many people tend to associate strategy and decision-making with rational thinking. However, research shows that the best strategic thinkers exhibit more activity in parts of the brain linked with ‘gut’ responses, empathy, and emotional intelligence. These areas of the brain are associated with parsing sensory stimuli and anticipating others’ thoughts and emotions, for instance, understanding how action plans would be received by the workers charged with implementing them.

Emotional reasoning is key to expansive and responsible decision-making. It brings many benefits:

  1. Enhanced awareness of self and others: Emotional reasoning fosters greater awareness by encouraging individuals to explore and understand their own emotions and those of others more deeply.

  2. Improved relationships and engagement: By empathizing with the emotions of others, individuals can build stronger relationships based on trust, respect, and understanding. Their teams and organizations are more willing to engage in decision-making and implementation.

  3. Better decision outcomes: Integrating emotional information into decision-making leads to more holistic and well-rounded choices, minimizing the risk of overlooking important factors or consequences. Decisions more aligned with individuals’ purpose and values, which shape how they feel, inspire greater commitment and actions.

  4. Increased satisfaction: Expansive decisions that honor both rational considerations and emotional needs are more likely to result in outcomes that bring satisfaction and fulfillment.

Mastering the skills of Emotional Reasoning

Mastering emotional reasoning involves several aspects of skill building:

  1. Surface emotional information. To effectively employ emotional reasoning, one must first be adept at recognizing and acknowledging emotions. They should not only take time to reflect on own emotions, but also consciously involve others in decisions, empathize with them, inquire about their underlying motivations and concerns, and understand how decisions may affect their emotions.

  2. Use emotional information. Once emotional cues are identified, they can be used as valuable inputs in decision-making. Understanding the emotional perspectives of others can provide valuable insights into their needs, concerns, and potential reactions to different decision outcomes. If a person feels anxious about a particular outcome, it may indicate underlying doubts or fears that need to be addressed before the final decision.

  3. Combining emotional information with other facts. Emotional reasoning does not operate in isolation. One must combine emotional insights with empirical data and logical analysis in order to make more informed decisions. For instance, if considering a strategic move, emotional reasoning may involve assessing individuals’ passions and aspirations alongside practical considerations such as market opportunities and financial returns.

  4. Making expansive decisions. Expansive decisions are those that take into account a broad range of factors and perspectives, leading to outcomes that are not only rational but also emotionally satisfying and socially responsible. Emotional reasoning plays a crucial role in making such decisions by ensuring that the full spectrum of human experience is considered.

  5. Communicate emotional rationales. To align and inspire their organizations into actions, leaders must explain the rationales behind decisions made. Explaining how purpose and values have shaped the decisions inspire greater energy and commitment within the organizations.


Emotional reasoning skills are essential for making expansive decisions that consider not only the facts and figures but also the emotional dimensions of the choices at hand. By surfacing and using emotional information from oneself and others, leaders can make decisions that are not only rational but also emotionally intelligent and socially responsible, ultimately leading to more satisfying and meaningful outcomes in both individual and organization contexts.

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