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« 8. Emotional self-management: Keep your cool »

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited user of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and internationally recognised Emotional Intelligence Coach.

Managing your emotions is not a simple, single step; it involves many different emotional intelligence skills.

I have identified three main areas or pillars of emotional self-management for you to focus on when developing your emotional intelligence and emotional resilience.

If you are designing an EQ program for yourself or your team at work these are vital components to add.

This is the second in a four-part series on these three areas.

  1. The first article explains the relationship between the three pillars and their importance in the development of emotional resilience.
  2. This second article is on pillar one: how to keep calm and cool and not flare up when things go wrong.
  3. The third article is on the second pillar - how to calm yourself down quickly if you have become irritated, anxious or angry. It covers essential aspects of anger management, for example.
  4. The fourth article is on the third pillar, developing a bedrock of positive emotions to act as a buffer against negativity and the problems which arise.

They are all important aspects of emotional intelligence to develop.

Develop emotional intelligence: Manage your emotions: pillar one

Every day you will be faced with situations that could cause "negative emotions" such as irritation, worry or disappointment to arise, in one form or another and to different levels of intensity. We all have difficult people that we encounter, or our colleagues say things that may potentially hurt us, or people have habits that get under our skins and bug us.

The first step in managing your emotions, therefore, is to be able to lessen the number of times you get irritated, worried or angry in response.

The number of potential irritants won't diminish but your emotional reactions to them can change. I call this pillar: "Learning to keep your cool".

Want to know what levels of emotional intelligence you have and identify areas of possible improvement and receive coaching from a top emotional intelligence coach? Sign up to have the MSCEIT conducted and receive coaching on your results. It could change your life - for the better. Click here to find out more.

What does it mean to keep your cool?

There are many aspects to it, but here are some examples to help you reflect on the areas in which you could keep your own cool at work.

  • If a colleague says something potentially hurtful, you don't feel hurt nor do you respond with an equally snide comment; in fact you barely notice it at all and assume the other person is having a bad hair day. You continue your day calmly content.
  • If customers, clients or stakeholders are angry, disrespectful or complaining you don't take it personally. You leave their emotions with them and, in some cases, even manage to charm them and turn them around. This is a very useful emotional intelligence skill to have!
  • If something goes wrong you deal with it calmly and don't get upset. In other words you don't swear at your computer or kick the photocopier when they don't work, nor take it out on the help desk or the administration personnel. This applies to traffic lights when they go red too, especially when you are late for work. Instead of thinking they are out to get you and have deliberately turned red, you sit calmly waiting for them to go green. Sometimes it is the small situations that irritate and annoy people the most, and yet they can be the easiest to fix, from a calming point of view. Staying calm in these situations is a healthy level of emotional intelligence as emotions such as anger can be a health hazard.
  • If someone makes a snide remark you don't go over and over it in your mind and fester on it, you let it go and stay content. This means no waking up at three o'clock in the morning plotting revenge! Having the emotional intelligence skills to avoid sulking, clamming up and festering can bring sleep benefits.
  • If you have to give a presentation to the Executive you don't go into fear and anxiety. Instead, you do your best and shine, and get a nod from the CEO at the end to indicate he or she is impressed! 

How good are you at keeping your cool? If you would like to test yourself then try our quiz: "How well do you keep your cool when things go wrong at work?"

Remain as a calm and tranquil sea.

If you apply your emotional intelligence skills to developing a sense of calm like this at work, emotional intelligence can enhance your life and increase your life and work satisfaction.

You will no longer be buffeted by your environment and what happens to you. Instead, you will be able to take responsibility for your emotional reactions. Bliss! This is an example of high emotional intelligence worth developing.

May you keep your cool and develop your emotional intelligence to a high level in this area.

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