Learn about the role emotions play when reacting to events, and how recognizing your emotions as they arise is the first step in developing emotional intelligence.
- Have you ever been in a situation where someone else's behavior has made you react strongly? Maybe you've been driving and a car pulls out dangerously in front of you, making you angry and possibly a little too free and easy with the car horn. Perhaps you've been queuing patiently in a line and someone nips in at the last minute and pushes in, making your blood boil. I think we can all recount numerous situations where someone else has behaved in a way that makes us react passionately to the situation, but the truth of it is, it actually isn't always the other person's behavior that makes us react, although it certainly feels that way in the heat of the moment.
We often associate behavior as being a response to an event, or something happening to us. We tend to think of our own behavior and the behavior of others as a reaction, quite often to an event that's outside of our control. But actually, there's a step missing in this process. The actual chain reaction is more like this, an event takes place, you experience thoughts, feelings, and emotions related to this event, and then you behave in a specific way to reflect your thoughts and emotions.
The key here is to understand it's not events themselves that cause you to act, it's how you think and feel about these events which will lead you to respond. Recognizing your emotions is the first step in building your emotional intelligence. Your emotions will drive how you think about and react within the world. If you don't have the ability to recognize your emotions, then ultimately you won't have control over how you interact with others and how you view the world around you.
It's a huge missed opportunity. To dive deeper and gain an overview of your emotional intelligence, it's useful to consider past challenging scenarios that you've experienced and analyze the parts you played in a scenario and the outcomes. In fact, it's useful to consider multiple challenging situations that you faced, but one at a time. The best way to do this is to use the personal reflection tool which you can download from the exercise files or just use as a guide.
Take some time to consider three challenging experiences you've had within the last six months, and answer the questions detailed in the guide. Maybe you have your own example of feeling angry with a fellow driver or someone that's pushed in front of you in a queue. Perhaps you have work-related examples where you've reacted strongly to the situation you found yourself in. Really think about the events and how you felt about it. Try to identify your emotions and responses, and how you think you would like to respond in the future.
The reason I ask you to think about three experiences rather than just one is to provide you with a broad perspective rather than focusing on one event which actually may be a one off. Reflection is a key part of understanding your emotions and building emotional intelligence. A top tip is to practice this reflection frequently after facing a challenging situation, as it's this reflection time that will help you build your emotional intelligence in the future.
- What is emotional intelligence?
- Watching for triggers and hijacks
- Finding flow
- Disrupting thinking
- Reclaiming reaction time
- Shifting perspective
- Listening and communicating
- Playing to strengths
- Collecting feedback
- Aligning intention and impact