Emotional manipulation vs. emotional regulation

The other day, I came across a talk about good coaching vs. bad coaching in sports. Two coaches who were discussing had coached national-level players, and they both had some experience coaching overseas as well. Thus, they could compare different coaching styles in other parts of the world.

By listening to this talk, I learned something interesting that is more than good coaching vs. bad coaching. They were pointing out different styles in coaching, which I thought might apply to parenting styles as well as any kinds of teaching or coaching in general.

Expressive vs. Stoic: One difference the coaches noticed was the amount of emotion the players and coaches expressed. They noticed that Brazilian players and coaches were very expressive, including their joy for successful plays and their disappointments in mistakes. They also noticed that east European players were not very expressive. At the same time, they did not seem to be afraid of facing their mistakes and quickly correcting them. They noticed that the players and coaches in the U.S. tried to keep the atmosphere very positive. For example, when they had to point out the players’ mistakes, the coaches focused on the ways to improve them rather than directly pointing out what they did wrong. After comparing various coaching styles, they concluded it was not that one approach was superior to others, but a fit of the coach’s personality to the players’ personality or the team culture was more important.

I agree with their opinion, and I’d like to clarify their point and expand it a little more. It is not to stereotype a particular culture, but I thought it interesting that what was discussed above is visibly noticeable when watching international sports games. Of course, there are personal differences, but culture definitely affects each player and each team. Perhaps in South America, it is more acceptable to express both positive and negative emotions freely. In that sense, I can say that both the east European and North American cultures are more restrictive than South American cultures in different ways. In fact, those two cultures seem exactly opposite from each other in terms of emotional expression as it is more acceptable to express negative emotions only in east Europe vs. it is more desirable to express positive emotions only in the U.S.

I am from Japan, and I believe Asian culture might be somewhat closer to east European culture (meaning people tend to be stoic in terms of the emotional expression level). Still, one has to be polite (meaning you cannot be too negative to the point that you make others uncomfortable). Again, I understand there are personal differences in emotional expression even among people from the same culture, but it is important to notice your pattern. By noticing it, you might no longer be manipulated by society or broader cultural expectations and might get closer to your true feelings. Suppose you notice that you tend to get overly positive or negative. In that case, you could voluntarily start to “regulate” your emotions instead of being “forced” or “manipulated” into specific ways just because that is a desirable expression in your culture or within your family.

You may think a “culture” is not necessarily trying to manipulate your feelings. Yes, that is true. However, the result is that you are manipulated if you are always acting a certain way based on cultural expectations or norms. All I want to say here is that you may not have to act like that all of the time. People recommend learning from different cultures partly because there are benefits, one of which is to learn different ways of expressing yourself. This will most likely expand your ways of thinking and possibly even your behaviors. Is it positive or negative for you to expand your limit? I believe it is positive as it is always good to have more options than not.

Talking vs. Modeling: One coach stated he noticed that the coaches in the U.S. were very vocal toward the players during coaching. However, he noticed that coaches in other countries emphasized modeling more. It is essential for coaches, teachers, or parents not to explain too much as it is often faster to “show” what should be done rather than explaining it in words. If you want your students or children to start regulating their emotions, it would be more efficient to make them feel motivated to do so rather than trying to manipulate their feelings by words. Also, coaches, teachers, and parents may be the first ones who need to learn emotional regulation if they have an urge to “talk” too much.

You may not think about things like this too much in your everyday life, but it may be interesting to notice how emotionally expressive you are. It is also good to be curious about how much you depend on words when explaining something to others. I believe both are good indicators of your emotional regulation level.