Far too often, we do not “filter” what we say, and in turn, what we mean can get jumbled. This can sometimes be a sign that we need to work on our Emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability of someone to identify and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of those around them. There are five main pillars that make up the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ, or the emotional quotient):
Self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and people skills.
Of these five pillars, it’s self-regulation we want to examine further, specifically for professionals. But first, let’s talk about why EQ is important for organizations to foster the concepts of emotional intelligence.
For those organizations that foster a culture that values EQ, it can help create a work environment that is overall safer and more rewarding for the entire team. By teaching and encouraging teams to communicate with greater self-awareness and self-regulation, more positive behaviors become the byproduct. This is the good part for businesses, teams who communicate better produce better results and report overall higher job satisfaction from their employees. It’s not a stretch to say that organizations that value and promote EQ benefit from lower turnover rates lower costs associated with delays and rework but also, because of the EQ culture they have created, they often attract top talent within their industry.
Creating a culture that values emotional intelligence begins with everyone embracing all five pillars, but it could be argued that the most important of the pillars is our ability to self-regulate. Self-regulating simply means ‘the ability to regulate oneself without the intervention of an outside source’ (resource: Oxford Languages. Pulled Online, February 2022). In essence, regardless of what is happening around us, we can choose to control our reactions whereby applying the idea of self-regulation. Some call this a brain mouth filter.
We’ve all had those experiences, both in our personal and business lives, those times we reacted and said or done things that we later regretted. Applying the idea of self-regulation will indeed help us to cause less damage in all areas of our lives. But if taken a step further, we can look at the ability to not just filter what we say or what we do but can take it a step further and adjust our reactions to those things that will improve or advance our objectives. It might be helpful to look at an example of how this might look.
Let’s say two peer associates are speaking with each other about a project. One of the associates tells the other that they don’t like the ideas that the other person is sharing. Instead of becoming defensive and responding with emotion, the associate pauses do not react and tailors a response that strengthens their interests. For this to be successful, not only do they need to not react, but they also need to not show through body language that they are frustrated by the feedback. By taking control of their response, they automatically gain control of the conversation and, therefore, can steer it in the direction they choose.
You may notice that as you put this new skill into practice, there may be some extra-long and awkward moments of silence in your conversations. This is normal and evidence that the ‘filter’ is working. As you get better at applying EQ to your conversations, the pauses become shorter and less frequent.
Developing the skill set to maintain control and the self-awareness required to develop an emotionally intelligent response takes some time and practice. For some, developing this skill set will be easy, and for others, it will be challenging. As with any new skill we work to develop, it simply takes practice. To help master this skill, remind yourself that by controlling your reactions, you are advancing your goals or objectives. In essence, achieving success is more valuable than letting your emotions go unchecked.
A few tips for developing a strong EQ in your professional life are to pay extra attention to your listening skills. Active listening ensures that you are fully present in the conversation and improves your overall ability to ‘read’ all elements of conversation, such as tone and body language. Another great tip is to consider how your words and actions impact others. This can help create stronger importance for you to pause and adjust what you choose to say or do when responding to others. In the end, the goal for all professionals and organizations is to improve the overall effectiveness of communications. And while there are many approaches available for organizations to support, the idea of applying the principles of EQ can be one of the best.