"Emotional Intelligence is “the” something in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results." ~ Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves ~
Wow! What a year I've had... and, it’s not even over yet!
I wrote the original post back in 2016, when there were many challenges, both within my professional and my personal life.
So many things have happened... good, bad, and downright devastating. In all of these situations, I have to thank The Almighty for the lessons that come out of these situations and how I can apply the learning experience to my everyday life and, also share it with the people I come into contact with too.
When Your Life is Literally out of Your Control
If I asked your whether you have your life under your control... what would you say? You'd probably say... Jacqueline, I control what I do, when I do it and how I do it! You would be totally well within your rights to say so.
But... what if you had no control over your life? What you do, when you do it and, how you navigate your day-to-day duties; from this to having complete control taken from you, how would you feel then?
Well... that's what happened to me in the summer just before a big family wedding, I suffered a major data loss across all my businesses!
Oh no, I hear you say… You had a backup didn’t you Jacqueline? Err… no I didn’t!
I was devastated and wanted to cry but, I had to think logically with a more emotionally intelligent mindset, because what I needed to do was to plan what my next steps were going to be in retrieving the data, if not all of it, at least some of the most imminent material I desperately needed for programmes taking place later in the year.
After consulting experts in data loss retrieval, I was left feeling numb because the most recent data was irretrievable and only the older versions were available. It wasn’t an ideal situation and was completely out of my control, so, I did what I did best and ran with what was accessible, because it was better than having no data at all and having to recreate material from scratch.
Well... that kind of situation would test anyone's EI to the max!
I was feeling somewhat stressed over the situation as this loss of data was a 'BIG' thing and not easily remedied, and invariably impacted everything I was undertaking in my joint business as well as my own consultancy. I really had to concentrate on what I could do and leave the things that were out of my control alone. This meant that to a certain degree, I had to put the work in and burn the candles at both ends to get all documentation and programmes ‘fit for purpose’ and ready to deliver at their allotted dates and times for my clients.
I tapped into my Emotional Resilience BIG time during this unprecedented time because, I needed to think and act with a clear head, in order to get the arduous task of recreating work that had been lost. As the time progressed, I was able to take time out for a little self-care and relax a little more, having purchased a highly recommended data hub and was able to back up all retrieved data along with the newly created work.
This whole debacle got me really thinking about how individuals control their emotions under pressure and, how they can alleviate it with more understanding and tapping into their Emotional Intelligence.
When you’re under pressure what happens? Do you get irritated with anything and everything or snap at people around you? It happens!
How do you control your emotions how do you tap into your emotional intelligence and see things from a different perspective to the current state you are in?
There are many people around unaware of how they can tap into their emotional intelligence or how them not being emotionally intelligent can affect others around them.
“Character is who you are under pressure, not who you are when everything is fine." ~ Anon ~
So… What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI or sometimes referred to as EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. This ability also allows us to recognise and understand what others are experiencing emotionally. This recognition and understanding are, for the most part, a nonverbal process that informs thinking and influences how well you connect with others.
Emotional intelligence differs from how we think of intellectual ability, in that emotional intelligence is a learned—not acquired. This learning can take place at any time in life so the social and emotional skill set, known as emotional intelligence, is something we can all have.
It is important to remember that there is a difference, however, between learning about emotional intelligence and applying that knowledge to your everyday life, whether it’s within the working environment, home, or social setting. Just because you know you should do something doesn’t mean you will—especially when you become overwhelmed by stress, which can override your best intentions.
In order to permanently change behaviour in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to overcome stress in the moment, by having an understanding of emotional resilience and, how its formula can help you navigate any challenges you may face, keeping you calm, thus remaining emotionally aware.
7 Practical Ways of Improving Your Emotional Intelligence
(1) Practice Observing How You Feel - In the process of rushing from one commitment to the next, meeting deadlines, and responding to external demands, many of us lose touch with our emotions.
When we do this, we’re far more likely to act unconsciously, and we miss out on the valuable information that our emotions contain.
Whenever we have an emotional reaction to something, we’re receiving information about a particular situation, person, or event. The reaction we experience might be due to the current situation, or it could be that the current situation is reminding us of a painful, unprocessed memory.
When we pay attention to how we’re feeling, we learn to trust our emotions, and we become far more adept at managing them. If you’re feeling out of practice, try the following exercise:
Set a timer for various points during the day. When the timer goes off, take a few deep breaths, and notice how you’re feeling emotionally. Pay attention to where that emotion is showing up as a physical feeling in your body and what the sensation feels like. The more you can practice this, the more it will become second nature.
(2) Pay Attention to How You Behave - As I mentioned above, a key part of improving our EI is learning to manage our emotions, which is something we can only do if we’re consciously aware of them.
While you’re practicing your emotional awareness, pay attention to your behavior too. Notice how you act when you’re experiencing certain emotions, and how that affects your day-to-day life. Does it impact your communication with others, your productivity, or your overall sense of well-being?
Once we become more conscious of how we’re reacting to our emotions, it’s easy to slip into judgement mode and start attaching labels to our behavior. Try to refrain from doing that right now, as you’ll be far more likely to be honest with yourself if you’re not judging yourself at the same time.
(3) Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Behavior - This is probably the most challenging step, and it’s also the most helpful.
Your emotions and behavior come from you—they don’t come from anyone else
—therefore, you’re the one who’s responsible for them.
If you feel hurt in response to something someone says or does, and you lash out at them, you’re responsible for that. They didn’t “make” you lash out (they’re not controlling you with puppet strings, after all!), your reaction is your responsibility.
Equally, your feelings can provide you with valuable information about your experience of the other person, as well as your own needs and preferences, but your feelings aren’t another person’s responsibility.
Once you start accepting responsibility for how you feel and how you behave, this will have a positive impact on all areas of your life.
(4) Practice Responding, Rather than Reacting - There’s a subtle but important difference between responding and reacting.
Reacting is an unconscious process where we experience an emotional trigger and behave in an unconscious way that expresses or relieves that emotion (for example, feeling irritated and snapping at the person who has just interrupted you).
Responding is a conscious process that involves noticing how you feel, then deciding how you want to behave (for example, feeling irritated, explaining to the person how you feel, why this isn’t a good time to be interrupting you, and when would be better).
(5) Practice Empathising with Yourself and Others - Empathy is about understanding why someone feels or behaves in a certain way and being able to communicate that understanding to them.
It applies to us and other people and practicing this ability will improve your EI.
Start by practicing with yourself. When you notice yourself feeling or behaving in a certain way, ask “Why do I think I’m feeling like this/doing this?” At first, your response might be “I don’t know,” but keep paying attention to your feelings and behavior, and you’ll start to notice different answers coming through.
(6) Create A Positive Environment - As well as practicing the skills I’ve mentioned so far (self-awareness, self-responsibility, and empathy), make time to notice what is going well and where you feel grateful in your life.
Creating a positive environment not only improves your quality of life, but it can be contagious to people around you too.
(7) Remember EI is a Lifetime Process - EI isn’t something you develop once then drop. It’s a lifetime practice, and it is possible to keep improving. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered these steps, remember to keep practicing, and you’ll reap the benefits of EI for the rest of your life.
We all probably know people, at work or in our personal lives, who are emotionally intelligence, they are great at listening, supporting us when we face challenges and, by helping us feel more hopeful and optimistic about the road ahead along our respective journeys.