Success in the world, whether it is at work in a professional environment or personally, depends on our behaviors, especially those that affect the feelings of other people. Unfortunately, many people cannot see, or refuse to admit that their behavior contributes to relational problems that they have. I am sure that you have worked with individuals like this. What they lack is the competency knows as emotional intelligence. Conversely, those individuals that get along well in relationships have a high degree of emotional intelligence. How emotionally competent are you?
There is science that supports the concept of emotional intelligence which begins with the study of the anatomy of the human brain. Daniel Goleman in his book Primal Leadership describes the root of all behaviors as physiologic responses to human emotions evoked through interactions with others. The limbic system in the brain is an open loop system which receives transmissions secondary to personal interaction or thought processes that can alter hormone levels, affect cardiovascular function, disrupt sleep rhythm and reduce the response of the immune system. In other words, human emotions are the most powerful motivator of our behavior, personal feelings and bodily functions.
Remember a time when you were angry or humiliated or frightened and how did that make you feel? Just as powerful as the effects of others on your emotions, are the effects of your behaviors on the emotions of others. Those individuals who evoke positive emotions in others are emotionally intelligent. Daniel Goleman describes two important components of the emotionally intelligent individual. The first is that of self-awareness translated as the ability to read your own emotions, know your strengths and opportunities and emit a self-confidence, and positive self-image. After the understanding of self, the second component is that of effective self-management. This includes social awareness of behaviors and the ability to positively manage relationships. The reality is that all of us throughout our lives is going to find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. It is how we understand our own personal behaviors and how we relate to others that will make management of difficult situations effective.
So what do emotionally intelligent people do?
In every situation there are three sides to every story: your side, the other person’s side and what really happened. We all see things the way we want to see them and everyone’s personal perception in their own mind is correct. The emotionally intelligent person realizes that they are looking through their own set of lenses and that they may have something to do with the situation.
- Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Once you understand the concept of three sides to each story, it is important to give others the benefit of the doubt. Even in the same situation, all of us will react differently based on our value systems, experiences and personal emotions.
- Do not make assumptions for what was done or why people behaved the way they did. We are all different and cannot project our own personal feelings or logic on the behaviors of others.
- Think before you speak. Thumper in Bambi said “if you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.” Oftentimes if we do not think before we speak, things that are said can be damaging and hurtful to others. The emotionally intelligent person will not hurt others and will manage their words well.
- Respect others at all times. Respect in the workplace can mean many things such as the support of co-workers, being part of the team and refraining from gossip, especially damaging gossip. Those individuals that start or partake in destructive gossip lack personal integrity and are generally not respected by others. You cannot help but wonder what is being said about you by the person who enjoys gossiping. Perhaps they gossip because information is power and gossip makes them feel important. If people are gossiping, simply walk away.
- Do not take anything personally. What people think about you is their own reality and not a reflection on you. Although it is hard at times, stay firm in your self-confidence and do the best you can to ignore the reality of others.
- Find good in all people. Whenever faced with a difficult relational situation, it helps to try to find something good in them whether it is the fact that they are a good parent, student, competent nurse or philanthropist. Stay away from negative perceptions and focus on the positive.
- Be an optimist. Lastly, stay optimistic and attempt to look at the bright side. Coming from a positive state of mind begins to channel a positive outcome.
The first step to becoming emotionally intelligent is first of all to understand the concepts as well as make a conscious decision to begin the process to improve this competency. Life is all about growth and self-exploration. At times it is painful but it is the road to improving ourselves and becoming good people.
About the Author: Dr. Val Gokenbach has a true passion for leadership and has been in administrative healthcare positions for over thirty years. As a professional dancer and fitness instructor for over 40 years, Val has led a dual life as a fitness presenter, consultant and dance instructor. She has been featured as a health consultant and guest host on multiple TV shows and QVC. As an international speaker and author, her goal is to share her life's philosophy with all nurses and help them realize their value to the world.
Click here to read more about Dr. Val Gokenbach.
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