Emotional Intelligence, also known as Emotional Quotient (EQ), significantly contributes to building resiliency. Research suggests that the higher the emotional intelligence, the more likely an individual is to see a stressful incident as not negative, as a challenge to overcome versus having a fight or flight response to the incident.
As we have been talking about resiliency, this research on emotional intelligence helps us understand the specific factors responsible for helping us develop stronger resiliency skills. Unlike IQ (Intelligence Quotient) EQ can be improved with attention. But given our busy lives, how important is EQ? What are the benefits of increasing it? People who have higher emotional intelligence report less stress and anxiety, more adaptability and flexibility during adversity, have improved social relationships, as well as increased empathy and communication. You can see where these are incredibly important skills in work, school and life in general.
In the workplace, we are used to a fast-paced world. There are meetings, emails, more meetings, texts, travel, and more meetings. As we balance the mounting demands, EQ becomes a time saver. How? When people are more emotionally intelligent they approach problems as challenges, listen to understand another person’s perspective (hoping to gain a broader knowledge of the challenge in front of them), and have less interpersonal friction with their peers. Interpersonal misunderstandings can take a tremendous amount of time away from everyday work and problem solving as people are attending to their feelings of frustration and anxiety.
Let’s look at an example. Gary sees Todd in the hallway and realizes that he wasn’t on the invitation for the 4:00 PM meeting in three hours where Todd’s department should be represented. This meeting was called earlier today based on an executive-level last minute need for a high profile account. Todd has multiple deadlines for today so when Gary invites him to the meeting, he has already started doing the math on how he doesn’t have enough hours in the day to complete what needs to be done. Todd is frustrated by everyone always ‘disrespecting his time’ and ‘not considering his multiple deadlines’. He’s thinking “why can’t people plan better?” Todd declines the meeting, never understanding what was needed, how much of his time, nor where the request to attend came from. Todd now has a choice to approach this invitation with curiosity and inquire more about the 4:00 PM meeting. If Todd approaches the meeting with an open mind and without resentment, he has an opportunity to see this situation with a different lens.
Instead of presuming the meeting came from a lack of planning and disrespect for his time, he may find the following: The meeting came from executives asking for an end of day solution to an unanticipated challenge with a new account that would bring money to both Todd’s and Gary’s departments. Gary values Todd’s perspective and time; thus his invitation for Todd to attend. Gary only needs Todd for a short piece of the project. He invited Todd at 4:00 PM so he could structure the agenda to ask for Todd’s input early in the meeting. Todd not reacting with frustration but instead curiosity would allow Gary to explain this and possibly realize himself that the need to present this information earlier in his delivery to Todd.
Which path do you usually choose?
Emotional intelligence requires knowing yourself. It’s important to know what you are thinking and feeling as you experience it to avoid unnecessary tension or consequences. Thereafter comes calm exploration for understanding versus reacting to avoid misunderstandings and premature negative conclusions. We need to have an openness of “why am I feeling this way” versus presuming your initial reaction (often based on negative emotions) is accurate. Many times, we initially interpret our feelings based on similar past situations not the actual situation in front of us. Thus, taking a moment to ensure we are being present with this moment, not an accumulation of past moments, is critical to having an emotionally intelligent response.
Learning to take a moment, not responding immediately, and assessing what we are feeling takes practice. It may be uncomfortable at first because we may need to explain to people we need a moment to consider what is being said. However, with time and practice, one becomes more confident at distinguishing between emotions due to the current situation and emotions due to similar past events.
To do this, you must not let your emotions escape your awareness. You can’t emotionally regulate yourself if you aren’t aware of what you are feeling. As you engage with Ajivar daily, there will be opportunities to practice focusing on what you are feeling. As the app prompts, how you are feeling, it is intended to help you take stock of your thoughts, which are clues to your feelings. At the same time paying attention to your bodily sensations, which likewise give clues to your feelings. Over time, you will begin to learn that you hold a range of emotions in different parts of your body. This will help you cue in to how you are feeling at any moment. As Ajivar asks how you are feeling, it will become less foreign to tune into your body and thoughts. As a result, you will find yourself able to respond and self-regulate quicker and more accurately to your current situation.
In business and school, the ability to be present in the here and now, not bringing past emotions into the scenario, pays huge dividends. For example, if you are a student going into exam time and your stomach is upset, neck is tense, and you have been short with your roommate and friends, understanding that your upset stomach and tense neck is a sign of stress, not necessarily being sick, is important. This will help you realize that you may need to do something to calm down and be kind to yourself. Taking ten minutes to meditate will help your body relax and release chemicals that promote problem-solving skills versus inhibit them. Having your body in less pain, less discomfort, mind-activated, and engaged versus being in a stress-loop during these periods of increased stress results in better test-taking performance and grades.
Does your organization need increased EQ? Check out https://ajivar.com/ to learn more.