Applying Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Respond Proactively

How do you react to a crisis? In a crisis situation, it is especially difficult to hear the adviser of logic. So, if you’re like most people, you respond based on your gut feelings. But if you repeatedly respond without thinking, you may end up trying the same tired, ineffective solutions over and over. Take control of the way you think and act by listening to your emotions and thoughts. Find out why you react the way you do to crises and stress. Learn more about yourself and what makes you tick.

To get off autopilot, you need to:

  • Relax your body and mind
  • Catch yourself thinking
  • Find the causes
  • Understand what motivates you

Relax Your Body and Mind

People in the grip of an intense emotion like anger or fear often find it impossible to step back and examine what they feel and why they feel it. Relaxation puts your mind at peace so you can think clearly and become aware of your body, mind, and emotions. To relax, first slow your breathing. Then take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Repeat this a few times, and let your body relax. Tense and then relax your muscles. Continue breathing slowly and deeply, and gradually become aware of your feelings, thoughts, and responses. In this state of calm, revisit the event that caused you to become upset. Mentally review what happened, describing the events to yourself as objectively as you can. Avoid attaching labels to people or their actions at this point.

Catch Yourself thinking

After you have thoroughly relaxed and recalled what happened, remember what you thought and felt about what happened. Accept these thoughts and feelings as they arise.

Try to ask yourself, “What did my body tell about how I felt? Where did I feel tense? Was my gut reaction a “fight-or-flight” response? Which did my body feel more like doing—fleeing or fighting? Did I want to get away or get even? Try to identify and describe your feelings. Were you sad? Frustrated? Angry?

Find the Causes

You should now be in touch with what you felt. But what caused it? Try to uncover the true causes of your strong emotional reactions. Be aware that the causes may not be obvious to you. Search deeply. Like an onion, your emotions have many layers. To uncover your deepest feelings and the reasons you feel the way you do, you need to peel away the outer layers. To do this you need to ask yourself questions.

Ask yourself things like:

  • Why was I angry or afraid?
  • Was I frustrated because someone or something hindered me from reaching my goals?
  • How were my values compromised?
  • When have I felt this way before?
  • What’s the connection between that situation and this one?
  • What did I find offensive about what was said or done?
  • How did I interpret the events?
  • How could this interpretation have made me feel as I did?

Also, try to ask yourself at times, “Why do I feel upset when _______ happens with me?” and record your answers. Keep asking and answering questions until you feel you have peeled away all the layers that conceal the true causes of your emotions.

Understand what Motivates You

Your motivation is the fuel that makes you go. Knowing what kind of fuel you run on helps you understand your behavior and empowers you to motivate yourself rather than waiting for other people or things to motivate you.

Which parts of your work do you enjoy the most? Take a lesson from Mom and use these activities to motivate yourself. Remember how she motivated you to eat your vegetables by holding the chocolate ice cream hostage till you had eaten every single food? Use this same dessert last approach by scheduling your chocolate ice cream activities (the ones you love) after your food activities (the ones you just tolerate). You’ll sail through the dull activities and then you won’t have them hanging over you when you do the fun ones. Won’t Mom be proud?