“I am not angry” screams the boss at a staff member.
“I don’t care what my best friend said about me on Facebook,” says the teary-eyed high schooler.
“It’s no big deal she prefers him over me. I didn’t like her that much anyway,” says the hurt millennial.
People frequently ignore or aren’t even aware of how they are feeling in certain situations. They may not want to admit they have certain feelings, especially feelings that may show any vulnerability. They may rationalize away their feelings, like our above millennial. They may even deny a particular feeling exists, like our angry boss above. Most people feel they should be in control of the situation and the accompanying emotions.
The truth is, when you aren’t aware of your feelings you give control of your emotional state and your behavior to others. Their awareness of your feelings may allow them to use that awareness to manipulate or control your behavior. For example, a person wants others to like them. In order to get liked, they volunteer to do something for the other person; something that may even result in a negative outcome for them. This happens frequently with salespeople. A salesperson, who wants to be liked, may give higher discounts then they need to and as a result may get lower commissions for the sale as an outcome. Or, someone may not be able to accept guilt feelings and over compensates to do something for a person to ease their guilt. The guilt feelings may even be unconscious and unaware to them. They do a particular behavior because it is what they feel they should do, not what they want to do.
Think about how self-awareness may be impacting you. Do you say “yes” to volunteer to do something when you know you should be saying “no”? Do you not do something, or procrastinate doing something, because you are afraid of being wrong or not being successful when you do take action? In both cases, people may not even be aware why they are doing things. Most times they do these things because they aren’t aware of their feelings, but are reacting to those feelings anyway. The situation is controlling their behavior, instead of them controlling the situation.
Becoming aware of how you are feeling frequently is all you need do to better control your behavior and do those things you want to do rather than those things others want you to do or you think you should do. It’s very difficult to improve your EI, if you are not even aware of how you are feeling. Self-awareness is the first step to improving your emotional intelligence (EI).
So, what are a few techniques to improve self-awareness? One is to train yourself to be more aware. For example, periodically stop what you are doing for a few seconds and get into how you are feeling. Are you relaxed, tense, anxious, calm? Do this several times a day. The more you practice doing this the easier it becomes. The more you do it, the more natural it is for you to be aware of your feelings.
A second technique to become more aware of your emotions, is to close your eyes and get into how you are feeling at that moment. When you close your eyes, you can rely on non-sight senses to help you understand your current emotional state. Of course, you can’t be doing this while driving or when you need your eyes to be looking at something else. But, you can do this between work projects, in the shower, at the beginning of your day, or at the end of your day. The more you do it, the better you will get at being aware of your feelings.
A third technique is to be aware of emotional triggers that most intensely impact you. You may not like the feelings when you are in conflict with others. Additionally, you may resist change or the unknown at work or at home. Ask yourself, are these fears realistic? Can the change be implemented in smaller steps to decrease the amount of uncertainty at each step? Might dealing with the conflict when it is first developing make it easier to deal with it and remove it? The answer in most cases is, absolutely!
If you want to learn more about emotional intelligence and/or how to manage and control EI, read other articles in this series. We will explore each of the five (5) EI components. Or, better yet, attend our next online EI/EQ Certification. You’ll be able to take your own assessment to discover your EQ (emotional quotient score) and learn dozens of techniques to use yourself or to train others to use. In the certification we share close to a dozen techniques for each of the five (5) EI components. You’ll also learn from others in the training, not just from us. Go to www.theabelsongroup.com and click on certifications to learn more and/or to enroll in our next EI/EQ Certification. If you are certified by SHRM, this course counts for 9 continuing education credits toward your recertification. FYI, we were recently notified The Abelson Group was chosen by Manage HR Magazine as one of the top 10 experts and trainers of EI in the USA.