We all have a trigger that can prompt us to act in a childish, unbecoming, rude or even hostile way for that matter. Feeling a loss of control over a situation, dealing with giving or receiving challenging feedback, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work ahead. For me, one of my triggers is what I consider “insufficient think time” to process my thoughts and experiences. Admittedly, I tend to appreciate time to think (read overanalyzing, sometimes to the point of analysis paralysis.) Generally, I consider myself self-aware enough to do a decent job of managing my emotions and reactions around this stress trigger of mine.
However, that didn’t happen this week when I was recently faced with multiple deadlines and some crazy curveballs like a pipe bursting in the middle of the night. And then there was my anxiety about the new project I had started at work
It felt like I just couldn’t catch a break and had every right to explode - because things were not going my way, or how I thought they should go. I have to admit that after a couple of days of dealing with what felt like back-to-back frustration, I was not the positive, solution-focused individual that I aspire to be and would like for all of you to see. And I certainly know I was not the best co-worker, roommate or friend. Then it hit me. What am I doing?
By definition, emotional intelligence, referred to as EI or EQ, is defined as one’s “ability to perceive, understand and manage their own feelings and emotions.” (Chignell, 2018). A big part of what I do for a living is working with clients to teach them how to be more emotionally and socially intelligent in their work and life.
Yet, here I was, wallowing in the deep pits of ‘emotional unintelligence.’ I quickly stepped back, regrouped, and coached myself using a tool we use with many of our clients.
- Identify your triggers (How do you physically feel and why)
- Do something to shift the mood, something relaxing or that brings you joy (make a list, listen to music, take a walk, go for a run)
- Focus on the future and what you can learn (What can I learn from this? Next time, I will …)
First, I became acutely aware of my physical feelings – recognizing the knot in my stomach, the clenched jaw, my irritated emotions, and my terse voice (yes, you know the one) were triggering emotional responses in me and bringing out the worst in my reactions.
With that awareness, I got up, went out for some fresh air, took a few deep breaths, relaxed my face, neck and shoulders. Then, as opposed to just thinking about my short-term emotions and how great it would feel to vent my frustrations, I focused my thoughts on what I wanted to accomplish long-term and what I could learn in the moment about the experience. Then, I visualized what I wanted to happen - focusing on what was in front of me knowing I did not have enough time but had more than enough information to get the work done.
What that reframing did for me was put my life and work in perspective, got me focused and recharged. And as a side effect, I was definitely in a much a better mood and more pleasant person to work with!
Daniel Goleman, the great EQ evangelizer, identifies the first two components of emotional intelligence as self-awareness and self-management. The good news about EQ is that we all have the capacity to increase our EQ , resulting in:
- Higher job satisfaction and job performance
- Increased ability to stay calm under pressure
- Greater empathy for others
- Capacity for more thoughtful rational business decisions
Learning emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness. A great place to start is with a 360-degree feedback assessment like the Leadership Circle Profile which identifies creative behaviors that strengthen our positive impact and reactive behaviors that restrict our positive impact. So if you find yourself constantly exhibiting reactive behaviors, making excuses, finding that people aren’t responding to you in the manner you desire, or you seem to have difficulty getting things done through other people, then perhaps, the common denominator may be you.
Could working with a coach benefit you? I’d say yes! An executive coach can help you learn how to identify your triggers, increase your emotional intelligence and have more effective, productive – not to mention better – business and personal relationships.
Give us a call at (404) 634-4332 or contact us here. We would be happy to go on this journey with you!
Learn more about The Leadership Circle Profile.