The EQ Toolkit

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

Daniel Goleman, best-selling author and EQ SME

Like Goleman said in his quote above, no amount of smarts can make up for a shortfall of emotional and social abilities. While EQ isn’t an ability that comes naturally to all, the good news is that with the right tools, techniques and a bit of practice, we can get better and improve.

See our 5-step toolkit below, which ultimately and if practiced regularly, could help in better managing emotions, improving relationships, and assist in following through on positive intentions to achieving goals.

Stress Management and Coping Mechanisms

The ability to manage stress is key to maintaining balance, focus and a sense of control of our emotions. Turning to a couple of techniques can enable us to deal and dismantle stressors as they happen:

  • Deep breathing exercises – Breathe in, hold, and breathe out for four counts each. Deep breathing (also known as belly-breathing) encourages a full oxygen exchange which is the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Doing this will slow the heartbeat and stabilize blood pressure.
  • Grab lunch with a colleague – Talking things over with an understanding colleague can help as they might have lived through a similar experience.
  • Cardio Exercises – Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.

Solomon’s Paradox

Research has shown that we tend to reason more wisely about other people’s problems than our own. This is known as Solomon’s Paradox. When we’re faced with a challenge, our view suddenly narrows and we tend to lose perspective, resulting in losing sight of the bigger picture.

The key to reversing this is to practice self-distancing techniques which enable us to make better decisions and assess challenges with more objectivity. Practicing self-distancing over time increases our emotional intelligence and our ability to approach situations wisely and with empathy. There are two ways to practice self-distancing when faced with a challenge, both which require reframing a situation:

  • Imagine you’re advising a friend or acquaintance who has the same problem. What would you suggest they do?
  • Talk to yourself in the third person. Instead of asking, “Why am I doing this?” or “What can I do?”, rather ask yourself, “Why is she doing that?” or “What can she do?”

Labelling Emotions

Labelling emotions is an effective way of making them seem less extreme. Expressing what we feel, such as “I feel anxious” is a step towards managing our emotions. By attributing a label to emotions, we are essentially bridging the gap between thought and feeling, which, to a large extent is what emotional intelligence is all about. The next time you’re feeling a difficult emotion: start by expressing and labelling it. Have a look at The Feelings Wheel image and work from the centre outward.

The Emotoscope Feeling Chart

Emotions are built-in indicators which help in guiding us through our daily interactions. Each emotion has a specific purpose and these play an important role in helping us achieve our goals.

Developing our Emotional Intelligence involves increasing emotional knowledge, which can be done using the Emotoscope Feeling Chart. The chart breaks down the various emotions, how the emotion makes us feel, and what purpose the emotion aims to achieve.

For example, you’re feeling overwhelmed (emotion), because there is too much happening at work. Your eyes are downturned, you’re frowning, and you have soft shoulders (sensations). In wanting to overcome the feelings of overwhelm, you become motivated to set priorities in place and compile a plan of action (purpose).

Understand your Change Style

Everyone reacts differently to change and through the Change Style Indicator (CSI) (a leadership assessment) we can gain a deeper understanding of what our individual preferences to change are. Research shows that individuals typically demonstrate one of three preferences. The CSI assessment measures these preferred styles which represents unique approaches and preferences to responding to change. Being aware of our individual change preferences allows us to select appropriate responses for given situations. The key is to understand your preference and know when to adapt in order to be most effective. To find out more about the CSI and your preference of style, visit the Corporate Teams blog.