February was an EQ month for me. It started with running some specific workshops on Emotional Intelligence for a range of leaders at all levels in an organisation.
I was reminded of why we have different emotions and how little we teach people them. It reminded me that emotions are part of all of us, we all have them all of the time and they are part of our safety toolkit. It seems too obvious and I suppose that’s one reason it’s not taught specifically. I know my parents never sat me down to discuss emotions. If anything, I was taught from an early age about good emotions and bad emotions which really translates into whether they were being demonstrated appropriately or made other people feel uncomfortable. I was also told only to share share happy emotions. In fact, it was a case of “Be happy all the time”.
If someone asks how you are, the default response is to say “Great” or “Fine”. The other issue that then comes to mind is that we are not very practised in the art of identifying and naming our emotions. How can we be when we are ignoring or suppressing them?
There is a universal model describing 32 emotions and the first aspect of Emotional Intelligence is to start recognising and naming your own emotions.
This is a challenge!
The next part of Emotional Intelligence is to understand what has caused the emotion. The reason you have the emotion is that the brain has identified something and created a chemical response. What has it identified and why? The emotion you feel will depend on the chemical response.
This is where we need to “Mind The Gap” i.e. give yourself a moment before responding or reacting and ask yourself a question:
“What’s going on here? What has made me respond this way?”
Asking questions gets our rational brain involved and we can start to moderate/control our response and behaviour.
March could be a great time to start paying attention to your own emotions, labelling them and then considering what triggered those feelings. You will then have moved towards mastery in the first foundations of Emotional Intelligence.
To find out more about the work we do on Emotional Intelligence with organisations, contact us here.