I have often come across this term but barely gave it any consideration until a recent experience at work induced me to reflect on the impact of our emotions on our behaviour and our life in general.
My colleague Ziya is usually highly expressive to all situations. But as I sit on her right side only in office, I get to see only one facet of her expressions. One afternoon, I shifted to the opposite side of the desk to serve my duties towards a junior team member. From there, I took another glimpse of Ziya’s reactions and expressions.
At one minute, anger overpowered her for the lack of professional maturity that some team members have demonstrated. Her pulled down eyebrows; glaring eyes and irritation ossified her being. With tensed muscles, she folded her palms and pressed her fingers hard to soak up the negative energy that could otherwise propel her to project her frustration on the targeted individuals. At some other time, snippets of happiness rendered her gleeful. The corners of her lips jumped upward and her eyes sparkled in the artificial light of the office. She did settle, with a poised mind, an intermittent re-focus on her daily tasks. But, no more than a couple of minutes have elapsed; she was struck by neck pain, a headache, a feeling of breathlessness and stiffness and all stress related signs would regurgitate. Her state of mind was dampened; her physical force downcast. Astounded I was by her fluctuating emotional expressions. Expressions are themselves preceded by a psychological state influenced by our emotions. Aren’t wavy emotions a torment to the soul? What if we could pull the strings and consciously control our emotions? Dealing with complicated situations can be less difficult when we learn to handle our emotions intelligently.
Emotional intelligence (EI), a concept pioneered by American psychologists (Peter Salovey, John Mayer, Konstantin Vasily Petrides and Daniel Goleman), is about knowing exactly how we feel at a specific time and use that emotional information to direct our thoughts and reactions. As a matter of fact, negative emotions can be far more detrimental to our peace of mind than we have ever thought. But when emotions are regulated, people are less likely to suffer from loneliness, depression, hopelessness and suicidal ideation. With the rising emotional upheaval, it is of alarming importance to create a general awareness of EI amongst our people. The benefits are manifold – from individual wellbeing to relationship and job success. Luckily, we, human beings, can hold the reins to our reflexes. Before they overcome us, let us micromanage us!
There are several hallmarks of EI but the key ones are: self-awareness, self-management, empathy and relationship skills (Daniel Goleman, 2015). Self-awareness can be manifested through a retrospective analysis of our strengths and weaknesses. As we build and improve on these, self-confidence is boosted. Besides, this tactic allows a realistic reflection of where we stand and is far better than permitting an osmosis of critics from the ruthless world to influence our mental comfort. I remember, for our yearly appraisal at work, our manager would always say, “What do you think of your own performance? ”. This kind of self-appraisal actually deviated self-defense to emotional acceptance as we identified our own improvement areas.
On a similar note, resilience is an incontestable test to self-management. Unknowingly, employees tend to copy the reaction of their leaders at times of crisis; if the leader does not panic, the staffs are reassured. There are so many professionals who, after weeks of emotional torment, prefer to quit their unfulfilling jobs instead of bearing an unacceptable level of miscommunication. Though it is practically hard to always keep distressful feelings in check, communicating the problem and proposing a solution do dilute emotional upsets.
To be true, empathy is an ailment to this world’s emotional suffering. It’s still debatable if the concern is about being a good listener instead of hijacking the agenda or being more persuasive to attract an audience. But to balance, wearing both shoes seems more constructive as we shift from “Here are my concerns” to “These are my issues, and I hear your concerns. Let’s determine a way forward that takes both into consideration.” It gives the recipient of the message a feeling of an interpersonal connection with the sender. A moment of shared understanding. Erasing mutually exclusive ideologies.
Human beings are complex creatures but with the right set of relationship skills, an emotional balance can be sought. Do your friends feel relaxed around you or are they involuntarily compelled to behave in a different manner? Positive sign: They laugh easily around you. If that isn’t the case, it’s high time to re-frame your aura! An aura is nothing but a charisma myth that can be worked upon. One or the other person might already have a group of friends who instantly stops cracking jokes in the presence of a serious-personality rated friend. This exemplifies that team playing is as relevant with a social group as it is in a corporate cluster.
Strengthening EI takes commitment, discipline, and a genuine belief in its value. With practice, the results achieved can, by far, outweigh the effort it takes to get there. As it is, EI has an intrinsic power to create happiness – for us and for others. It’s a concept that is meant to be explored and practiced. Together, let us convert this known unknown into a known known by spreading the word. Eventually, emotional intelligence is nothing but an underline to the power of our character.