In my previous post, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Part 1: The Secret Behind Strong Leaders, I discussed the important role emotional intelligence plays in developing strong leaders. Part 2 of this 3-part series will focus on the first two competencies of emotional intelligence: Self-Awareness and Self-Management.
How to Become More Self-Aware
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams: who looks inside, awakes.”
~ Carl Jung, Psychoanalyst and Philosopher
Take a Minute to Ask Yourself the Following Questions:
- Am I comfortable communicating with others whose opinions are different from my own?
- Am I aware of and comfortable talking about my strengths and limitations?
- Am I open to receiving feedback on areas where I can improve?
- Am I conscious of the impact my attitude and behavior has on me, others, and my performance?
- Am I confident, realistic, and know when to ask for help?
If you answered YES to all five of these questions, you likely have a strong sense of self-awareness. However, if you found yourself saying NO to even one or two, you may need to work on becoming more self-aware.
So What Exactly is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is the first in a set of four main emotional intelligence competencies that allows you to accurately identify and manage emotions, control your attitude, and choose appropriate behaviors. In order to fully understand your emotions, you must be able to clearly identify any assumptions and judgments (towards yourself or others) and know what types of people and/or situations are emotionally triggering.
Being self-aware also means knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are and having an understanding of what drives or motivates you. People who have strong sense self-awareness have a solid sense of their own capabilities and self-worth and are able to accurately read their emotions and recognize their impact. Self-aware people use their “gut intuition” to guide decisions. These are qualities that shape strong leaders.
But How Do I Increase My Own Self-Awareness?
Integrate the following techniques into your daily routine to build greater self-awareness:
- Start by learning more about yourself by keeping a journal to identify your greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses.
- Make a list of emotional triggers to better understand and predict your reactions to stressful situations or difficult people.
- Identify your use of distorted thinking patterns and learn how to actively challenge them.
- Learn how to pause and go within yourself to choose appropriate responses when faced with negative emotions or situations.
- Practice daily mindfulness techniques to learn how to be present in the moment. Try focusing all 5 senses on one activity at a time. This will help you learn how to remain present during times of stress.
- Learn what ultimately drives and motivates you. Once identified, practice engaging in behaviors that will support your road to self-actualization.
How to Effectively Self-Manage
“Each person has the ability to be either reactive or proactive in every situation that arises. This is the true meaning of ‘responsibility’ – the ability to choose our own response to any situation.”
~ Stephen Covey, Author of 10 Habits of Highly Effective People
Again Take a Minute to Ask Yourself the Following Questions:
- Do I find it easy to set goals and stick to them?
- Am I a patient person?
- If an issue does not directly affect me, do I let it bother me?
- Do I maintain my composure even during periods of stress?
- Do I consider myself an emotionally balanced person?
If you answered YES to all five of these questions, you likely have a strong ability to effectively manage your emotions. However, if you found yourself saying NO to one or more, you may need to work on better managing yourself.
What Does Self-Management Mean?
Self-management is the second emotional intelligence competency and refers to the ability to self-regulate and manage your emotions. This involves knowing how you think and feel and deciding what are the best actions to take in all situations.
How Can I Learn to Better Manage My Emotions?
Learn how to self-regulate by practicing these tips:
- Make a list of trigger situations and think about your typical response. Next, identify ways you can change your perception or the way you react.
- Actively challenging negative thinking by replacing negative thoughts with more balanced thinking that you can easily buy into.
- Practice stress-management techniques to control negative reactions. Try taking a time-out by removing yourself from difficult situations. Go outside and get some fresh air, get a drink of water, or try some light exercise.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing. Take a 5-minute break to focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
- Learn to manage impulses. Delay gratification by observing your thoughts and feelings and resist the urge to impulsively act.
- Develop a work-life balance.
- Learn to rely on your own capacity for self-validation to stay motivated, manage stress
and emotions, and continue to give your best effort at work.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series which will address the last two emotional intelligence competencies that deal with how we relate to others.