Anybody can become angry - that’s easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way - that’s not easy. - Aristotle
There has been a lot of research over the course of the years regarding emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman is probably the leader in the field at this time, popularizing this work in the business landscape and beyond. There are four fundamental truths that are at the core of almost every emotional intelligence model I have come across and these four skills are identification, utilization, understanding, and management.
The first skill is all about being able to identify emotions. This is something that we should be learning at a very young age, but it's a skill that is often overlooked. How good are you at identifying your own feelings? Bringing mindful awareness to your own feelings is the first step in becoming emotionally intelligent. Everyday, you can set aside time to work on this skill. As an athlete or high performing professional, start to notice the times you’re at your best. Learning how to leverage your emotional state to serve you, instead of being owned by your emotions is a powerful tool for expansion.
Now lets take it a step further. Being able to accurately recognize your own emotions is one thing, but identifying other people’s emotions is an entirely different skill. You can assess people’s state and check in with them to see if you’re on the mark. As a coach, leader, business owner, or captain this is an essential skill to be able to influence, inspire, and connect.
Next, emotionally intelligent people understand how to use thier emotions. They understand how feelings impact thoughts and behavior. When we have positive feelings we are able to expand our thinking, become more creative and innovative, consider new possibilities, and view challenges as opportunities for growth.
Third, being able to understand our emotions is an integral sign of an emotionally intelligent person. When we’re able to bring emotional intelligence to the connections between thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, this is when we start to see real growth. Emotionally intelligent leaders use information to make sense of why they feel the way they do, and explore why others on the team may be feeling a certain way as well. When leaders begin to be able to predict emotional reactions, they’re able to make better decisions and encourage the team with a more dynamic approach.
Questions to ask yourself as you’re working to understand your feelings. What led you to feel this way? Can you identify your underlying thoughts and values? Was there a progression of different emotions or was there a sudden switch? What patterns of emotional reaction do you recognize in yourself generally? What are your triggers? You can even try this exercise with a friend, teammate, or colleague.
Lastly, the final attribute of an emotionally intelligent person comes from their ability to appropriately manage their emotions. For example, we all the power to intentionally improve any given mood. Being able to emotionally regulate your mood, transitioning from a negative emotion to a neutral or positive emotion is a transformative skill. Of course, mindfulness is a key component in our ability to do so.
For athletes and high performing professionals, you can visualize a future based event to practice this skill. Think about an upcoming game, presentation, or meeting that would typically heighten your emotions. How would you like to feel during the event? Beforehand?What about afterwards? What is the perfect blend of emotions that will allow you to achieve what you set out to accomplish? Like anything, visualizing and connecting to the feeling of this is a tremendous way to enhance the chances of you succeeding.
We all suffer from being in a bad mood from time to time, but having a strategy to boost your mood is important. Researcher and author, Bridget Grenville-Cleave, shares some suggestions for managing your emotions and improving a bad mood. Check them out below.
1. Expend some energy. Physical activity for just 10-20 minutes can have a profound impact on your mood.
2. Change position. Stand up, look out, stretch your whole body and walk around. Go outside if you can.
3. Avoid drinking, drugs, or comfort food. These are merely short term mood enhancers.
4. Listen to your favorite music.
5. Mediate or practice Mindfulness.
6. Do something kind for someone else.
7. Reframe the situation in a positive way.
8. Call a friend or family member.
Emotional intelligence is not just about understanding and managing your own emotions, its about understanding and managing other people’s feelings as well. You can start to connect to others through listening attentively, asking questions sensitively, and acknowledging the emotions they are feeling and expressing.