Emotional Intelligence – Elevation Through Practice

OpinionPosted | Category: BRM Capability, BRM Community, Professional Development | Contributed

What can you achieve when you facilitate meaningful connections?

In our modern world, the pace of business does not show any signs of slowing. Teams must be strong in order to keep up with demand in nearly any industry. As a BRM, your role is to keep the tempo and help the team adjust accordingly. To do this, you invariably will draw on your own Emotional Intelligence as well as that of each team member. 

Knowing about Emotional Intelligence and how to strengthen it could prove to be the difference between a team that lasts, and one that falters.

How to Master Emotional Intelligence

Over the past several months, we have been exploring Emotional Intelligence (EI) based on 5 core components to focus on, as determined by Psychologist Daniel Goleman, that each boost development of EI on the whole.

A high Emotional Intelligence is indicative of a depth of character that creates the resilience required in a leader along with the care found in a true friend – both qualities which are beneficial in developing relationships.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that building up your own EI competencies takes dedication. Our aim with these explorations was to teach you positive communication techniques by offering you common situations in which these skills will be tested, along with tips on how to practice your new skills in a safe environment.

We hope that you enjoy practicing with the tools related to each area of Emotional Intelligence! Here’s how you can practice all 5 EI skills safely with results.

By Definition - The 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

Self-Awareness – the ability to understand your own moods and how that affects others around you. Being self-aware means intimately understanding your own personal value while maintaining humility.

Self-Regulation – the ability to control certain impulses and moods. In heated situations, those with strong self-regulation can take a step back, breathe, and think before they speak. This predictable stability brings comfort to others around them.

Empathy – the ability to understand what others are thinking and feeling. Empathic leaders manage teams superbly because they understand their teammates, and how best to communicate with each unique individual.

Social Skills – the ability to manage relationships and build rapport. Those with strong social skills understand the intricacies of social situations, and easily pick up on the moods of a group.

Internal Motivation – having the vision to pursue one’s own goals with energy and creativity. Internally motivated people regularly show dedication and generate high-quality work.

Let’s break these down! The links above will take you to the full articles if you missed them the first time around, but below is a quick reference guide that you can keep handy as you continue developing your Emotional Intelligence. You’ll find each core component as well as a run-down of the strategies and practices that help to develop them.

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the key that opens all of the other doors to EI competency. By cultivating a high level of awareness of how you show up to others, you will be able to see clearly areas to highlight as well as areas to improve upon.

Putting it Into Practice - Self-Awareness

Strategy #1: Reflect on your emotions. Think back to a recent stressful situation. How did you feel? Allow yourself to really pull on the thread of each emotion that arises as you reflect, and ask yourself why you feel that way. Are there other situations that cause that emotion or set of emotions to rise within you?

Strategy #2: Learn to Appreciate Criticism. The delivery isn’t always gentle, and sometimes the message gets lost in translation – but the hardest part about receiving criticism is that it’s often quite true. Practice slowing down and taking a few deep breaths, asking yourself what they might actually mean and if it may hold some validity, thanking them for their feedback, and asking them for clarification. Just holding yourself to this practice could make all the difference in navigating this kind of situation, and ultimately will likely only help your performance!

Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the obvious expansion of self-awareness, and really where the rubber meets the road when it comes to putting your insight into practice. Self-awareness will certainly help to move through challenges more easily, but through a well-practiced application of self-regulation, you can often avoid challenges altogether.

Putting it Into Practice - Self-Regulation

Strategy #1: Master The Pause. Here is your chance to create some space between you and the situation so that you can respond in the most beneficial manner to all parties, including you! Start by disengaging the natural inclination to react immediately, then take a breath, think for 5 seconds about what has actually been said, and then respond with compassion for the person you are interacting with.

Strategy #2: Put Yourself in their Shoes. Get out of your own head and consider what has motivated them to feel how they feel. Recognize that you are likely not the sole cause of their discontent or anger, and encourage them to open up to you about what they’re actually feeling and how you might be able to help.

The de-escalation that can happen with these simple acts is often enough to turn the situation from something heated into a meaningful exchange. The strategies used in self-regulation development start us well down the path toward Empathy, another powerful means of bridging the gap between challenges and opportunities well met.

Empathy

Through Empathy practices, you can begin to see how putting yourself in another’s shoes creates a level of understanding that allows for more streamlined and evolved communication as a foundation for new growth.

Putting it Into Practice - Empathy

Strategy #1: Explore the Why. Ask someone about their day, and try to get some tangible details to arise. Follow what they might seem most interested in, and ask them how it made them feel, or why they described it in the way they did. Or just simply ask, “why is that?”

Strategy #2: Listen. Try to identify the idea, feeling, or fear others are sharing with you. Here are some actionable steps: 1. Don’t interrupt, period. 2. Focus on their why (strategy 1) 3. Ask good, helpful questions. 4. Simple agreement is not necessarily listening – it’s okay to challenge them at times. 5. Resist the urge to provide a solution. Ask questions and help them get there, if that’s what they’re seeking!

The key with Empathy is really simple: think less about what you will say next and more about the richness of what the person in front of you is saying. 

Social Skills

Our next area of focus is Social Skills, which denote a subtlety that is often lost on people. A high level of Social Skills competency requires the ability to empathetically tune in to several people at once, listen to more than just their words, and be able to speak to them in a way that they are readily able to receive.

It’s estimated that only 7% of our communication is actually verbal, with tone of voice and body language holding the lion’s share of our proper expressiveness. A lot of our perception of these non-verbal cues is subconscious, however it can be very valuable to bring conscious awareness to the little things people in our circles do to communicate who they are and what they care about. When we go to communicate with them in turn, those little things that we have consciously logged can make all the difference in effectively expressing our needs in a way that they personally will understand.

Putting it Into Practice - Social Skills

Strategy #1: Study Body Language. Don’t zone out in your next meeting. Instead, take the chance to focus on what people are showing. Make observations, ask yourself questions, and try to answer them with insight about what your coworkers are communicating.

Strategy #2: Practice How You Give Feedback. Focus on feelings, avoid accusatory language, use the XYZ technique – “I feel X when you do Y in situation Z”, and pay attention to them – especially as they respond to your thoughts.

If you are able to master the art of delivering tough news with empathy, then you are well on your way to mastering your Emotional Intelligence. Last in the lineup is the silent activator of everything else we’ve practiced: Internal Motivation.

Internal Motivation

This trait of EI is particularly powerful because it catalyzes a bio-hack when well-trained. A positive and motivated response to stressful situations releases dopamine, which is essentially PF Flyers for the brain. Remember the run-faster, jump-higher shoes? Dopamine improves focus, mood, and internal motivation. So the more you practice this trait, the more it expands naturally!

Putting it Into Practice - Internal Motivation

Strategy #1: Practice Positive Self-Talk. Change your inner monologue – your inner thoughts become your words, which become your behaviors, which become your habits. Take a positive action step when you face a setback. Say three positive things to yourself daily.

Strategy #2: Treat Failure as an Opportunity to Learn. Do something that scares you every day! The more you fail while learning and practicing daily, the more you will see failure as an opportunity and learning experience. Not to mention, becoming comfortable with facing fears allows us to adapt to scary situations more effortlessly.

If you enjoyed this article on Emotional Intelligence…

Join us at BRMConnect in New Orleans this October! This year we’ll be learning how some of the biggest organizations in the world are engaging Emotional Intelligence to drive success!

In this Emotional Intelligence series, we break down the 5 competencies of Emotional Intelligence, along with two strategies for developing each competency, and specific exercises/applications you can practice daily to increase your EI.

Check out where it all started, the original overview of EI competency and its role in team management.

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