Behavioral and Emotional Honing for All
Everyone experiences emotions. It is an integrated part of our brain and the way we respond to our own everyday actions and thoughts, as well as others’ decisions. Everyone has had a time or two or twelve wherein they react to a situation some way, only to go home and recollect what they did and how it could have gone differently. Fortunately for us, everyone can make a mistake and learn from it to better themselves or respond accordingly with a different approach if a similar occasion pops up. What is even better is that it be taught and incorporated over time to shape the way anyone may go about their everyday choices in life. This concept, or rather ability, is called emotional intelligence. It is defined as the capacity of being able to understand, recognize, manage, and utilize one’s own emotions in positive ways to effectively handle relationships and resolve complex problems. Emotional intelligence has recently become a heavily studied of topic the past few years, with many researchers and experiments showcasing results that do lead to the conclusion of someone with a high emotional quotient (EQ) transforming into a person of leadership powers, financial stability, and overall success. While there is plenty of material for discussion on emotional intelligence, I want to cover the four primary attributes alongside possible suggestions that anyone can pick up on for their own cognitive benefits.
Emotional intelligence is composed of four pillars for its total structure: self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and social regulation. Self-awareness means being able to control and understand your own feelings and behaviors, as well as recognizing your strengths and what’s left to learn. What can you do to improve your self-awareness? A suggestion I always recommend to colleagues is to place yourself in a third / bird’s eye point of view and observe without trying to fix. Take a neutral standpoint on a matter (say, a conversation not going well with a significant other), and simply look at the situation from a completely outside perspective. What did you say, and why? What emotions were hitting you, and why? Be honest with yourself. You are not trying to fool anyone in training your self-awareness other than yourself. Use mindfulness and focus your attention on the present moment, without any judgement, and pick apart actions you exhibited, positive or negative.
Self-regulation involves controlling your own emotions, inner resources, and abilities, as well as being able to control your impulses. In simpler terms, it is one’s ability to think before acting. Everyone has been in a pressured situation where emotions and thoughts are all flying by one right after another and we do not know what to do. Self-regulation aids in those circumstances of overwhelming stress. A recommendation is to recognize that with any given moment you are unconsciously going to treat it by going about it one of three ways: approaching it, avoiding it, or attacking it. Next time you’re about to react to something in-the-moment, pause and stop yourself. What are you about to do? What are your motives behind your thoughts? Are you thinking of dealing with the circumstance, or are you thinking of leaving? Stressful moments make us lose control of our emotions as well as how we act thoughtfully and appropriately, which is how adapting and learning self-regulation aids us when we’re feeling stuck.
Social awareness is a component that has to do with understanding the emotional state of those that are around you. You can pick up emotional cues from others, are comfortable in a social setting, and can essentially read the room. With this attribute I believe one of the simplest yet consistently underrated methods are to focus one’s ability to empathize. When you’re talking to someone one-on-one, thoroughly listen to them and practice quieting your mind during the conversation. Try to listen for feelings when they’re talking to you, acknowledge what you heard, and withhold judgement. Even those few steps may be hard to follow, but trying it out with someone can greatly benefit your ability to notice body language, volume & tone shifts, along with being able to tell the mood of one or many people.
And finally comes relationship management, which is knowing how to develop and maintain one’s interpersonal relationships, as well as being able to communicate clearly and having a functional handling of conflict. We’ve all been in a work altercation where both parties are adamant about their point and refuse to change. A suggestion on my end is to not only step into the other person’s mind, but walk a mile in their shoes. Really stand back and think about what is driving their stance. What is their logic or reasoning? What emotions are they demonstrating to you about the matter? What are their possible motivations? Examine it from all angles. And while we’re at it, take feedback as well. Although it can be difficult to hear sometimes, constructive criticism goes a long way in augmenting your responses and displaying to others that you are mature enough to hear their respective opinions of you.
Emotional intelligence is no easy ability for anyone to master. We all must go through life and what it has to unravel for us so that we may build our mechanisms for how we go about interactions with others, and ourselves as well. With little yet subtle changes, anyone can slowly but surely understand what behaviors are the correct fit that will help them in the future.