Whether we are aware of it or not, from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we drift off to sleep we experience an opera of emotions. Our emotions are the filter of how we perceive the world around us. Behind just about everything we do there is an emotion attached and often the things we do and the decisions we make are led by our emotions. When we are anxious or worried, we are less likely to take risks. When we are elated or excited, we are more likely to make decisions that overlook the risks.
Despite how influential our emotions are to the decisions we make, the vast majority of us tend to spend very little time actually thinking about their feelings. In fact, many of us are hard pushed to even put a name to our emotions at times. With all this in mind, it is pretty important to try to become more emotionally aware of ourselves.
Increasing your emotional Intelligence
For the sake of this article, I am defining emotional intelligence as your ability to tune-in to your emotional self. Being able to put a name to your emotions will allow you to make better decisions. When you understand how you’re feeling and how those feelings might affect your judgement, you can start to make better choices. Being able to name your emotions also allows you to have a certain level of objectivity when it comes to your feelings. Instead of associating yourself with the emotion you are feeling and letting that emotion define you, you can see it more as an emotion that is passing through you at this point in time. This is especially important with uncomfortable feelings like sadness, disappointment and shame.
All emotions can be categorised as either helpful or unhelpful. For example, a certain level of anxiety is helpful when you are about to give an important presentation and you don’t want to stuff it up. It can give you the focus, concentration and drive you need to deliver an exceptional presentation. If you are so anxious you can’t deliver a good presentation, then it is unhelpful. Anxiety can also be unhelpful if it stops you from being able to do your job effectively or take even the smallest of risks to make progress in your work. Anger can helpful when it gives you the momentum to take a stand for something you believe in but can be harmful if it is the driving force behind you saying something hurtful to someone.
Exercise: Tune-up and tune-in to your emotional state of mind
I invite you to try this useful exercise. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, think about and write down the emotions you feel for everything you do – no matter how mundane the action is. How do you feel when the alarm clock wakes you up? How do you feel when you get out of bed? How do you feel when you get in the shower? It might look something like this; Alarm went off: ripped off/ annoyed followed by a resolution to get up. Standing under the warm shower: happy and content. Positive about the day ahead and comfortable in my routine. Continue to jot down your feelings in an emotional journalof sorts and have a look at the end of the day at just how many emotions you actually felt through the course of the day. Make sure you include the feelings you experience before and after meetings and at other events during the working day.
As you go through your day identifying your emotions, you can rate each emotion for each situation as either helpful or unhelpful. If it’s helpful, embrace it and ensure you allow yourself to feel that way again tomorrow and the next day in the same situation. If it’s unhelpful, flag it and work on trying to change how you feel the next time the same task/ situation arises. You can change how you feel by either changing the way you think or the way you behave. Ask yourself ‘Can I shift my mindset associated with this action? Can I change the way I feel about this?” For example, if you are too anxious to delegate some work to a new colleague for fear of them not completing it to your standard, why not try to shift your mindset and begin by delegating more small risk tasks to him/ her to assess their ability before moving on to giving them bigger projects. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen, allow yourself to shift your mindset from worrying to trusting.
Being more in-tune with your feelings can play a key role in your ability to make better decisions, in your work life and your personal life. Give it a go, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’d love to share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate. Get in touch today.