I’ve see you out there, when I am out and about, at a restaurant, at the grocery store, at the airport. I saw it just this afternoon. I stopped to get a coffee at a café near the beach, and there was a man and a woman, seemingly in a relationship, possibly married. The man was carrying many things, following hurriedly behind her, and he looked like he was trying to figure out what was going to do to make her happy. She spun around on her heels, pointed at him like she was an angry schoolmarm from a hundred years ago, and she let him have it. She was screaming at him, telling him she, “knew this would happen”, all the while, her face was contorted like a beast from the wild. He looked exasperated and exhausted; it was the type of exhaustion that takes decades to build. This is an extreme example, no doubt. Still, how often do we DECIDE to react this negatively to those we love, to those who we consider friends, and to those in our workplaces?
Do you have a desire to be a senior leader within your organization? If so, you do need to learn to manage your emotions. Have you seen overly angry women at work or at school? They may or may not be leaders with an official title, but they are usually someone with their own piece of power. Maybe they are the people who approve your travel, maybe they are the teacher’s assistant. You are required to deal with them for some reason, but the thought of even going near them increases your stress level and causes you to want to avoid them. There are times and places where a proper display of anger may be necessary, but if this kind of anger is your default reaction to anything that slightly displeases you, you need to figure out what you need to do to change your reaction. This kind of anger WILL get in your way on your road to success, and it is unacceptable, period. If you remain that kind of angry in the everyday interactions you have with people around you, you will find that you get stuck exactly where you are, which will probably only make you angrier.
What about the desire to cry? If you are someone who is very emotional, and it is not anger you over-displaying, but instead you cry very frequently, can you learn to control this? Yes – you can control your urge to cry as well. Crying is not a bad thing, when it is done for the right reasons or in the right place. Still, crying does have a very big impact on all the people around you, and it can be seen as manipulative, weak, or make you seem like you are not a person who is “in control.” This is the reason you should learn to recognize how and when you cry, and then decide if it is truly necessary each time. You can make the decision to improve this emotional response and you will feel more powerful if you do learn to control it more often.
Let’s talk about Emotional Intelligence. According to PsychCentral.Com, “Emotional intelligence or EQ, is more important than one’s intelligence or IQ, in attaining success in their lives and careers. As individuals our success and the success of the profession today depend on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.”
Is it worth the effort to change our EQ?
According to the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, here are some reasons you should try to improve your EQ:
- Your annual salary will increase by $1,300 for every point of EQ improvement
- EQ is the strongest predictor of workplace performance
- It accounts for 58% of successful performance in all types of jobs
- 90% of high performers they studied had very high EQ scores
There are two major sides of EQ, one is how well we know and manage ourselves and our own emotions, the other is how well we recognize emotions in others and manage our interactions with them.
In a HBR article, Daniel Goleman describes 12 competencies within 4 domains that make up Emotional Intelligence.
In the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, they describe a simpler, but very similar version of this.
Take a close look at each one of these and consider how you might rate on each of these items. If you buy the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, it does come with a code that will allow you to take a free EQ assessment test, which could give you clarity for what you need to work on first.
The examples of anger and crying at the beginning, fit squarely into the “Self-Awareness” and “Self-Management” domains. These domains are heavily in your control. There are times when you may feel like improving your emotions are far beyond your control for one reason or another, and in those cases, it is perfectly normal and desirable for you to seek out professional help. In many cases and situations, though, you can improve these emotional reactions.
According to Dr. W. Gerrod Parrott, a Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, all emotions come form the basis of six general categories: Love, Joy, Surprise, Anger, Sadness, Fear. You can see the break out of hundreds of emotions below, based on his research.
What are some concrete steps we can take to start improving our Emotional Intelligence right away?
- Consider taking an EQ assessment exam, there are free versions available at various locations on the internet
- Take a good hard look at yourself and what you want to improve in how you react emotionally, or in how you deal with others on a daily basis. Make a small list of the most immediate changes you want to make
- Think of times when you lost your temper or when you made the decision to cry. How did this affect the others around you? Did you regret it? Did you wish you could rewind time and do something else instead? After about an hour, how did you feel about the situation? When you think of the times that drudge up the most regret, those may be the actions you want to work on first.
Once you have identified the emotion or competency you want to work on first, develop some strategies that you will employ for trying to correct the behavior. The Book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 includes 15 or more strategies for each EQ domain. Given our examples today, of losing your temper or crying, you might try some of these:
- Breathe – slow deep breaths
- Identifying the trigger event for this reaction
- Create a simple “Emotion vs. Reason” chart
- Find a person who is good at the skill you want to improve (mentor)
- Keep a journal about your emotions and reactions – why do you do what you do? What is at the root of it?
- Know when you are in an overly good mood or an overly bad mood
- Look for your emotions in books, culture, movies, or daily life. What do you think about how it looks on others?
- Get to know yourself under great stress, then in the future – notice when you are becoming stressed and try to find ways to recharge or mitigate the stress
You are made up of a Personality, Intelligence, and Emotional Intelligence, and the only one of these you can really change is your Emotional Intelligence. I hope the lady I saw the other day sees this article. She does NOT have to be this way to her husband. The lady at the DMV who was extremely rude to the co-worker at the counter beside her, made a choice that could have gone another way. You see these people, you post about them on Facebook, you gossip about them to your friends, you judge them. I just want to make sure you do not BECOME them, and if you already have, I want you to know that you can STOP it, today. You absolutely can control your emotions, you can use them to affect a positive change on the world. And yes – even anger and sadness can bring positive change when use appropriately. We are beautiful, emotional beings, and as in Gerrod Parrott’s chart, we have hundreds of emotions we might display on any given day. If you want to be a leader, you will master the correct times and places for your emotions and you will be the example for others to follow.