Emotional Flexibility in This Time of Constant Change 

emotional adaptability

Summary: The more adept you are in being emotionally flexible, the more adaptable you can be in your leadership role. 

Dear Dr. Sylvia, 

This one is personal. I had a very difficult situation occur with my stepdaughter and she wants to break all ties with me. 

I know from reading your books that you suggest what you call “honorable closure.” 

I must admit, that sounds a bit too “stuffy” for me.  

Moreover, I’m not sure what that really means.  

Emotional adaptability means learning about honorable closure. 

Here is the basic situation: We were at a family birthday party, and I ended up sitting next to my step grandson. I tend to be kind and polite and keep to small talk since we are not close. And, after all, it was a party. 

In any case, he started to complain about his mother. Just fyi, he is in his mid-twenties, not a teen. 

Subsequently, I listened and at some point, simply said, “When you were little, she had to handle so many difficult situations and I’m sure that had an impact on you.” 

That was IT! Nothing more. 

Triangulation often occurs when there is no emotional adaptability 

In any case, it turned into that old kid’s game, “Whispering down the lane.” By the following week I received an email from my stepdaughter, stating that I had overstepped boundaries and was no longer welcome in her home. 

After that, I wrote an email back and apologized if what I said was hurtful, figuring that would be like salve on a wound. 


Now there are those for her and those for me. It is very unpleasant. 

I know you can talk about work and give good advice. Thus, what would you suggest for what you call, “honorable closure?” Or, in my words, emotional adaptability? 

Please respond soon. 


In a Quandary. 

Dear, In a Quandary, 

Above all, this type of “he said, she said, I said, you said” really does need you to be emotionally flexible and yes, adaptable. 

Here is what you can do to figure out what your next response will be. 

Here are methods to keep being emotional adaptable. 

  1. Understand your own emotions first: How did it make you feel to be discounted? What other times has this ever happened to you? How can you accept being told you are no longer welcome in someone’s home?  
  1. Consider the emotions of the others: In this case, how do you think your stepdaughter feels to take such a drastic step to “ban” you. And think about the role your step grandson plays in this. Is this “triangulation” common in the family. Does something similar ever happen to you at work? 
  1. Acknowledge the reality of the situation: Where is the resistance? Who is steeped in denial? Why is there so much splitting? Who will gain from keeping you at bay? Are there others who need to be included in a discussion to clear the air and find better alternatives? 
  1. Maintain a balance between emotional adaptability and acting: First, this means taking a few deep breaths. If you give into basic emotions, the tendency is to “fight fire with fire.” This keeps polarization intact and the “for “and “against” sides stay strong. Consider what part is yours and what belongs to others. Do not, please hear me, do not take it all on your shoulders and become a rescuer. 

An emotionally flexible individual adapts to change and gives others the opportunity to do their part.  

Thus, do not be dismissive of your stepdaughter and her son. Obviously, they have bigger issues to resolve. You may have been the catalyst to open the discussion for them to get some help. 

In conclusion, please do not play the blame game. You already apologized which may have been helpful or just a way for you to get out of the line of fire. 

Stay flexible. 

Emotional flexibility is vital in these times of deep change

In summary, often being emotionally adaptable means waiting and not having to be the peacemaker. It means taking a stand, and yet, not giving in to other people’s emotions.  

For me, honorable closure could be something like this “I had no intention of causing difficulties. However, now that they are here, I am willing to talk with both of you to look for a solution that will be helpful to all of us. However, I do believe you have issues that are way beyond my comments, and I encourage you to seek solutions with a coach who can listen to both of you. In the meantime, I will sit on the sidelines and hope for a beneficial outcome. I am not closing doors and want a positive relationship when you are ready.” 

When conflicts come your emotional adaptability is vastly important. 

To sum up, please, do not be pulled off course by the conflicts of others. Let them see you as emotionally flexible and adaptable to change. Hopefully, they will learn from this. 

Here’s to your success,  


P.S. It may be excellent for you to take the Stress Busters quiz and find out how you handle the stress of adaptability, especially during times of change. 

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options