Here’s the accepted definition of EI:
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).
Emotional Intelligence has been broken down into four distinct skillsets:
- Social Awareness
- Relationship Management
In my last article, I outlined the first step: self-awareness, and shared several strategies to begin mastering this foundational piece of EI.
Self-management is your ability to use your awareness of how you are feeling – the palette of emotions you’re experiencing – to stay flexible and direct your behaviour positively.
This can be tough!
What is your favourite sport to watch? We see excellent self-management on display in the best athletes of any sport.
Think about a top golfer on the PGA Tour. Thousands of people line the edge of the green. Cameras are zoomed in with millions of people focused on his next shot and… he blows it.
In that moment, he is flooded with negative emotions. Disappointment. Frustration. Anger. Perhaps even embarrassment or shame.
His mind is flooded with negative self-talk: I practiced this shot for weeks – how could I miss it? That idiot distracted me with his flash right at the top of my swing. Crap. Dad is cursing the TV right now. What if the sponsors pull out. Get your shit together – it’s only the 7th hole! And on and on…
What the golfer does next, with all that input under pressure, defines his level of success.
Can he master his emotions and bring all his focus and skill to bear to nail the next shot? That is self-management.
Self-management also shows up every day, in the mundane.
How well do we manage impatience and boredom, and stick with a task that needs doing? (I really need to work at this!)
How positive and constructive are we in collaborations with someone we dislike?
What do you do when someone cuts you off in an important meeting?
Here are a few strategies to help you buff up your self-management skills:
Believe it or not, our brains use 20% of the oxygen we take in from every breath. When we breathe shallowly and deprive our brain of that oxygen, it doesn’t have what it needs to execute complex functions like thinking and managing our emotions.
Any time you find yourself struggling to focus, or handle a stressful situation or crappy mood, before reaching for the coffee, take several deep breaths, right down into your belly. You’ll notice you feel calmer. Your brain will receive much-needed oxygen and you’ll be better able to respond instead of react.
Count to Ten
Remember that seemingly quaint directive from your parents? There’s a biological reason for it! Stimuli hits the feeling-centre of our brains before it reaching our thinking-centre. When you ‘count to ten’, you are building in a buffer before reacting – giving yourself time to process emotions and achieve rational thought.
Handy Tip: when you hit Reply to bang off an email response, delete the address before you begin writing! That tiny safety valve builds in a logistical ‘count to 10’ – this has saved me from gaffes numerous times.
This is one of my favourite self-management techniques and has paid huge dividends. Before any stressful or challenging event – or hell, any event, take a moment or two to visual an ideal outcome. Picture the meeting going extremely well, with both parties relaxed and smiling at the end.
Go further! Picture the relationship six months out, as having developed into one of the best connections of your professional life. Taking the time to visualize in this way puts you in a positive mindset and engages your creative faculties, opening up new ideas and solutions that will help create the outcome you want.
As you can see, simple doesn’t mean easy. But spend a little time developing these habits and you will quickly reap the rewards of increased Emotional Intelligence!
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.