Many corporate women in Los Angeles and around the country has noticed a recurring theme as they move up the corporate ladder: Having the ability to control your emotions. Have you ever been described as “having an angry tone of voice” or “having a bad attitude,” or called “hard-core” or “unapproachable”? Whenever men get upset, angry or “lose it,” we are told that they are “just under stress,” or “having a bad day,” or simply, “they are just doing their job.” It doesn’t seem right, does it?
However, as you work to build your personal brand for success, you have to remember it is all about perception. Perception is reality and how others feel about your approach is what is most important if you want to advance. This is where emotional intelligence comes in.
“All learning has an emotional base.”
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ depending on who you talk to) is the ability to perceive, identify, control, manage and evaluate your emotions. It’s about understanding and connecting with your own emotional tendencies as well as understanding and connecting with others in ways that are most beneficial. Although there are many different models to look at as it relates to emotional intelligence, the mixed model, first introduced by psychologist Daniel Goleman, focuses on four basic tenets and skillsets that you should master in order to be successful in your career or business:
- Self-Awareness– The ability to recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. Being self-aware gives you the ability to use your intuition as a guiding force in your decisions which can dramatically boost your self confidence.
- Self-management – The ability to control your impulsive feelings and behaviors. Self-management is also having the ability to be self-disciplined, manage your emotions effectively, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness– The ability to understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management– The ability to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well on a team, and manage conflict.
You can improve in these areas of emotional intelligence. It just takes time and patience. Here are 4 simple ways to improve your emotional intelligence:
1) Get to know yourself. Spend time thinking about where your emotions come from and why. Get clear about what motivates you, what you do well and how you connect with others. Emotions serve a specific purpose because they are reactions to what is going on in the world around us. Know what your triggers are and why you have them. I like to journal, meditate and spend time “getting to know” my emotions and understanding what makes me tick.
2) Slow down. This is a hard one for me because I am intuitive – I have a tendency to act quickly and occasionally be reactive. It is important to remember that it is not always about you. Take time to think about situations and look at alternative explanations. My mother often says, “Things are not always the way they appear.”
3) Connect with others. According to published reports, 55% of communication is non-verbal. We move at such a fast pace and are so focused on what we need to do that sometimes we forget about the needs of other people. It is important that we take the time to tune into what others might be thinking and feeling about a situation and have the ability to adjust ourselves accordingly. You can practice this skill in any social situation – when you are networking, working with your peers or in meetings.
4) Give cupcakes! We all know that having and maintaining good relationships is the key to career success. I love empowering and inspiring others to be their best selves through coaching, mentoring and training. Use your talents and skills to share, motivate and give back to your teams in positive ways.
Although I still believe that there is nothing wrong with having a little “edge,” I have also learned the truth of the saying “You can catch more flies with honey…”. Everyone can learn to understand, improve and build their emotional intelligence. Get clear on your goals and objectives; take assessments to determine your level of emotional intelligence if you don’t know what it is; and start taking small steps to improve. Once you begin to master the four areas stated above, you will notice a huge shift in your relationships, your approach to work and your productivity.