Emotional Intelligence can sound like one of those important yet mysterious and elusive character traits any good leader is supposed to have – kind of like Executive Presence…
We all know that we don’t want or need to be robots in the workplace, and we also know that we don’t need to start oversharing or crying in meetings to show just how “vulnerable” we are.
So, what exactly is Emotional Intelligence? What does it look like in action? How do you know you have it (or not!), how do you get it, and why it is important?
Emotional Intelligence is essentially all about identifying and managing one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of those around us. This includes the skill of identifying your emotions – almost like an objective observer – and harnessing these to your advantage, such as whilst having difficult conversations, or overcoming challenges.
So why is this recognition of our emotions so important? It effectively comes down to this:
Awareness = Choice = Change
My favourite equation of all time.
Naming the emotion allows you to manage the emotion. Get curious about it, dig into where it came from, why it’s showing up right now.
Has someone triggered you? Look at it this way: you’re the one with the ammunition inside you, why is it that this spark has just set you off like a firecracker? Your emotions are your own interpretation of, and response to, a stimulus, and you and you alone are responsible for your reactions, no one else. What might trigger one person will simply float on by another.
Emotions are neither good nor bad, they are simply signals to notice and act upon.
Being able to manage your response to situations – that is, responding, instead of reacting – can lead to a number of changes in your life, as the effect that particularly negative situations can have on you is dampened, also known as “down-regulation”.
This alleviation of stressors will allow you to experience a different relationship with yourself through increased personal satisfaction, as well as loved-ones, co-workers and friends, by enhancing interpersonal, as well as decision-making and other leadership skills.
This is a great point to remind you that emotional intelligence is not just about expressing your emotions, it’s about expressing the appropriate emotions at the appropriate time. Your actions do have an effect on others, and letting out anger with a door slam, or releasing frustration with an eye roll cannot be classified as emotional intelligence (even if it may feel good at the time!)
So how can we become more aware of our emotions?
Get curious. When you feel anger, hurt, joy, frustration, what is going on in your boy right now? What are the thoughts associated with this feeling? And what is your physical action that follows this emotion? Do you bottle it all up inside, or do you let it out like a tempest, no matter who is nearby?
Become aware of how you experience and express your emotions, and the influence this can have on yourself, as well as on others. This awareness then presents you with the choice when we consider “how is this response serving me?”
As a Leadership Coach, I have a complete arsenal of tips, tricks and worksheets on Emotional Intelligence. Indeed, it’s such an important topic that I have included this as a complete module in my new “Moxie Master Plan – Female Leaders’ Formula”. Reach out now for more details!