“We must learn to control our emotions or our emotions will control us.”
As my boss walked in the room, I could tell he was in a heated conversation with a customer on the phone. He wasn’t happy, and he was getting defensive, which seemed to be making the situation worse.
All of us were waiting for him to start the meeting and could see the steam coming out of his ears and the irritation on his face getting worse. It wasn’t good.
As he got off the phone, he looked around the room at us, one by one, with anger on his face. We were all looking at him, waiting as he snapped, “What?” Come on, let’s get started!”
I remember this like it was yesterday, it was not a good meeting. He bitched and moaned, blamed everyone else for the poor results of the company. You could see he was visibly upset and he micromanaged and criticised everything we did. We left feeling flat, defeated and useless. This was the beginning of the end, I knew I had to quit. I could not deal anymore having to work with someone so volatile, never knowing if it was going to be a good day or a bad day depending on whether he was in a good mood or not.
He just couldn’t see how his behaviour constantly affected everyone else in the team.
He was completely lacking any awareness of himself and desperately needed to work on his Emotional Intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence?
And, how can we develop it to improve our relationships, home life and workplace?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to intelligently recognise our emotions, the impact they have on others and how we can manage them.
It’s an awareness of what’s going on inside and how that is exploding on the outside. When we become the observer of our thoughts and emotions, we have the ability to manage them for the better.
Have you ever reacted in a negative way and after the fact, thought that there could have been a better way to handle it?
Perhaps you could have created a better outcome if you had taken the time to consider your thoughts, emotions and the needs of the other people involved?
Recognizing where we control our reactions and thoughts and ultimately choose our emotions from moment to moment, is an important part of building strong relationships with yourself and other people.
Emotional Intelligence is having an awareness of Self and awareness of others, their emotions and what the situation requires.
Developing emotional intelligence will improve your work environment, home experience, improve your relationships and overall life experience.
My old boss had no control of his emotions and reactions, and could not see how his reactions & emotions were affecting his team and their work life satisfaction, and performance.
Observing and understanding our emotions gives us the ability to recognise where they are serving us or where they are doing us a disservice.
I believe there are two aspects to emotional intelligence. Initially it is becoming aware of your own emotions and the ability to decide how you would like to behave, respond or react.
It’s all about Self. How we perceive, understand, express and manage our emotions. This self – awareness allows us the ability to manage and self-regulate in way that serves us positively.
It creates the ability to improve your emotional reasoning. That is, recognizing which emotion would be better suited to deal with the situation at hand. Asking yourself, if I react in this way, will this serve me? And if the answer is no, then we have the option to change our emotions for a more positive outcome.
Awareness of self and having emotional intelligence also helps us tap into our own authenticity. When we are emotionally aware we can observe our emotions from a dissociated state and see where the emotion may not actually even be ours. The response or reaction could be a learned behaviour, a belief or trait that we have picked up from someone else, or even a societal expectation of how we should behave. Developing emotional intelligence gives us the ability to question our own thoughts and behaviour and decide if it is something that we would like to adopt. Tapping into this gives us the ability to choose what is important to us and how we would like to behave authentically, as our true selves.
If my boss had excused himself from the room to take the phone call, taken some time to check into his emotions and get them under control before returning to the room the meeting would have been completely different. Even going one step further, and asking himself “How do I want to behave in this meeting today? What’s my intention for the meeting and how do I want my team to feel after the meeting?
If this was the case, I would imagine there would have been a completely different outcome that day.
The second part of emotional intelligence is becoming emotionally aware of others.
That is, how our emotions and behaviours impact others and how we can positively impact those around us using empathy, understanding and positive influence.
It’s also recognizing someone else’s reactions and emotions and knowing that they are just a reflection on what is going on for them and is no way our actual emotions.
When we’re able to take a step back and become aware of their concerns from a disassociated position, and view the situation from afar, we can have a better understanding on what is going on for them and how we can best serve them.
People who lack emotional intelligence often react to situations and other’s emotional responses without taking the time decide what the best course of action is, how their reaction or input will affect others, and the bigger picture outcome of the situation.
My boss reacted aggressively and defensively to the customer on the phone that day and the outcome was disastrous. What would have been a better way to handle the situation with emotional intelligence?
A – Listen to the customer’s needs and concerns
B – Recognize and acknowledge how the customer was feeling so the customer felt heard and understood
C – Recognize that the customer’s emotions were not directed at him, just at the problem at hand
D – Asking himself, if I react in this way, will this serve me? And if the answer is no, what response will give me the best outcome.
E- Show empathy for the customer and the problem.
F – Focus on finding a solution.
Empathy is an interesting concept and we often get it confused with sympathy.
With empathy, we have the ability to understand and recognize the emotions/pain from the customer’s point of view. Also recognizing that because their pain isn’t ours, and therefore we have the ability to assist and positively impact the outcome.
Most people believe we need to have sympathy with others, yet the distinction is important to consider.
To have sympathy, we must have feelings of pity and sorry for someone else’s misfortune. Which is all good and well, as long as we don’t adopt the emotions. They are not our emotions to adopt & adopting them does not help the situation.
I believe empathy is where we can have an understanding. Yet, as an outsider, we have the ability to take an observer’s position to see all sides and offer support and insights from a non-emotional position.
The brain is a powerful machine, that processes 400 billion bits of information a second through sight, sound, touch, smell & taste.
The brain also filters all this information through every life experience an individual has had and adds it to a list of similar experiences from the past.
So when we are experiencing emotions they can often be related to a past experience which may then affect how we understand, react or respond to a situation.
Recognising that every human being has their own unique life experiences, thoughts, values and beliefs which are as unique as a fingerprint, allows us to have respect and awareness of another person’s opinion, thought, reaction or response.
The same way we recognize someone else’s opinion on something like a work project for example, will be different, but not necessarily right or wrong, as everyone’s filters are different.
The impact this has on our interactions on a daily basis can be the difference between building a strong relationship and having a positive influence or losing the relationship, and engagement from your people.
Every day we encounter different people in our worlds and we have an impact on them just as much as they do us. So would you prefer to make your impact a positive or negative one?
What if more of us were emotionally aware?
Imagine the way this would improve our relationships and our daily experience of work, life, family and friends.
This is a choice we make each day. So choose wisely.