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7. Ten Tips on managing your emotions intelligently

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited user of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and international leader in emotional intelligence coaching.

Emotional Intelligence is said to be an indicator of people's success in life because we are all driven by our emotions and our emotions drive our behaviour and productivity at work.

A big and important component of Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions. It's often not an aspect adults have had much education in, so here are some tips to help you develop this aspect of your emotional intelligence at work.

Ten tips on how to use emotional intelligence in managing your emotions

Emotional intelligence tip 1: Stop and check

Too many of us rush through our day and then fall into bed exhausted at night none-the-wiser for how we have felt during the day.

It is important to know how we feel.

Our feelings can dictate our behaviour.

If we do not know how we feel, we may do things that are hurtful or unhelpful or not know why we are doing what we are doing. Ignorance is not bliss, it is unwise when it comes to emotions.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

Take a brief pause in your busy day to check in with yourself. Ask yourself, "How am I feeling?" Become aware of how you are feeling and then decide if any action needs to be taken.

Start by doing this often, until it becomes a habit. I recommend doing it on the hour every hour for quite a few days or even weeks.

Emotional intelligence tip 2: Reflect on each day

At the end of a day, stop to reflect. Howard Gardner, one of the original researchers into multiple intelligences says this is a key behaviour of extra-ordinary people.

Review your day and learn from it.

Consider what you managed well. Identify what you could have managed better. Decide how you'll improve. And to it!

Don't keep repeating the same mistakes, it's not emotionally intelligent to do so.

Emotional intelligence tip 3: Keep a journal

Keep notes on your emotional states on a day-by-day or week-by-week basis. What emotional reactions did you have? What upset you? What delighted you? Then over time look to see if any patterns emerge.

  1. Do you frequently get upset over particular kinds of comments?
  2. Are you more likely to feel anxious at a particular time of day or at a particular task?
  3. Do particular people trigger different emotional reactions in you?

Then take action to help reduce any problems.

Emotional self-awareness is an important component of emotional intelligence.

There is a mood meter app from Yale University that may help you keep track of your emotions. I ensure most of my clients use it.

Emotional intelligence tip 4: Accept how you feel

Many of us have been brought up to bury, ignore, avoid, or even to feel ashamed of or embarrassed by our feelings.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

Develop the ability to own how you feel without trying to deny your feelings.

For example you might say to yourself and others, "Yes, I am anxious at the moment", or "I am scared that I'll fail", or "I feel uncomfortable in this situation" or "I'm embarrassed with the way we are discussing this issue. I could contribute more if we found a kinder way to do it."

Emotional intelligence tip 5: Don't let your feelings dictate your behaviour

You always have options in the way that you respond to an emotion. Just because you feel a particular emotion doesn't mean it should dictate what you do.

For example:

  • Just because you are bored doesn't mean you have to give up. You are simply feeling bored. The boredom may pass if you acknowledge it and keep going.
  • Just because you feel guilty about standing up for yourself, doesn't mean you don't do it.
  • Just because you feel angry at someone doesn't mean you have to yell, rant or rave at them.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

 You always have options as to how you respond to your emotions. Generate options.  

Choose the most emotionally intelligent way to respond.

Emotional intelligence tip 6: Ask yourself why?

In addition to knowing how you feel it is also useful to understand why. Is there a reason why you feel as you do?

You may feel grumpy at the moment, but why? Is it something that was said to you earlier in the day or because you didn't get what you wanted yesterday or because it stops people giving you more work?

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

 Be willing to trace back to find the triggers for your emotions. Once you know what is triggering or causing your feelings or emotions then you may know how best to manage them.

Want to know how well developed or lacking your emotional intelligence is? Have the MSCEIT conducted and receive coaching on your results. Click here to find out more: www.theeiinstitute.com/professional-tests/mayer-salovey-caruso-emotional-intelligence-test-msceit.htm

Emotional intelligence tip 7: Let go of your emotional buttons

It's an important emotional intelligence skill to be able to reduce the times that people trigger a negative emotional reaction in you.

For example, when my mother or husband used to accuse me of being too sensitive, I used to take it to heart and feel hurt and dejected. Then I realised I was giving my power away to their negativity and that I didn't have to do that. So I trained myself not to mind being called sensitive. Now they can say it as much as they like. There is no longer a button to press.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

 Get rid of your emotional buttons. This will stop you getting upset so often by other people's behaviour. 

Emotional intelligence tip 8: Remove yourself when angry

When you are angry you may risk hijacking a meeting or damaging a relationship.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

 One option you have is to remove yourself from a person or situation when you are angry so you can calm down.

If you have become angry, furious or upset you do not have to take it out on the other person. Remove yourself from the situation until you've had time to become clear-headed and calmer. Once you can think straight then you may be better able to talk through your concerns with the people involved.

Emotional intelligence tip 9: Don't stew

Some people stew on things. They go over and over things until the initial frustration has blown up into a seemingly major issue.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

Learn to take action earlier and to not mull over things for days or weeks on end. A simple phone call, a chat with a colleague or writing in your journal may free you from the problem faster.

Emotional intelligence tip 10: Develop a longer fuse

Develop a longer fuse. If you get irritated easily, or go quickly from being calm to being upset, frustrated or angry, develop ways to stay calm for longer.

Develop your emotional intelligence now:

This may mean pausing before responding to people, counting to 10 before you react or learning techniques such as meditation, yoga or tapping. Develop ways to stay calm.

Develop your own or your leader's emotional intelligence

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