Defining emotional intelligence
Just as with the rest of life, emotions influence the way we act and react in the workplace. Emotional intelligence is about learning to better understand our emotions (as well as emotions of those around us). And it’s about finding the most effective way to manage how we react to them, so we can get on with our real work.
The basic idea is not to let our emotions control us. Instead, we learn to identify them when they arise, recognize their causes and outcomes, and as best we can control them – or at least our reactions to them.
Not about squashing emotions
Emotions have so many triggers, we could never stop them all from coming up. In fact that would be kind of like trying to plug a volcano with ice. Plus emotions can tell a useful story — once we learn to mindfully observe them when they appear. They just shouldn’t be given the chance to run the show.
The real trick is not in fighting against them (or hoping they magically disappear), but in learning to handle them intelligently when they do come up.
Emotional intelligence is awareness
Ideally, we become aware of connections between our emotions and our actions (as well as the actions of those around us). And in that way, we have a better chance of learning to recognize any automatic reactions that may get in our way.
Instead of letting emotions take the lead over our brains, emotional intelligence techniques help us learn to relegate emotions to their proper place — while we step through them and act with an eye toward achieving maximum work outcomes as best as possible. Hopefully unhindered by the buzzing bees of emotions gone wild!
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[Article updated in 2021]