28 And it came to pass that when Laman saw me he was exceedingly frightened, and also Lemuel and Sam. And they fled from before my presence; for they supposed it was Laban, and that he had slain me and had sought to take away their lives also.
29 And it came to pass that I called after them, and they did hear me; wherefore they did cease to flee from my presence.
30 And it came to pass that when the servant of Laban beheld my brethren he began to tremble, and was about to flee from before me and return to the city of Jerusalem….
33 And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us….
35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.
(1 Nephi 4:28-30, 33, 35)
A few years ago, I was talking with a church leader and describing some of the challenges facing my children, work colleagues, and others. After listening to me, he responded with some words of advice: “A leader can do a lot to calm the fears of the people around them.” At that moment, I realized that I was falling short of my potential. I had accurately identified other people’s fears, and I was able to empathize with them, but I was not doing a good job of helping them regulate their emotions so that they could make wise decisions. That realization helped me to be a better leader.
In the book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman identifies five skills associated with emotion management:
- Self-awareness – recognizing our own emotions while they are happening
- Self-regulation – managing our own emotions
- Self-motivation – “marshalling one’s own emotions in the service of a goal”
- Empathy – identifying emotions in others
- Handling relationships – “managing emotions in others”
(Daniel Goleman (1995), Emotional Intelligence, New York, NY: Bantam Books, p. 43)
Based on the scripture passage above, Nephi was adept at the fifth of these skills. When Laman, Lemuel, and Sam became frightened and began to panic, Nephi calmed their fears. When Zoram subsequently panicked, Nephi’s words helped him to “take courage.” Unlike Lemuel, who consistently allowed himself to be stirred up by the words of Laman, Nephi was able to influence the emotions of the people around him and to help them overcome their negative emotions.
Today, I will take responsibility not only for managing my own emotions but for helping the people around me to manage theirs. When people around me become agitated or irritated, I will remember that I can help them calm their fears.