Developing Emotional Intelligence - Part 1

Photo by drburtoni

Photo by drburtoni

When you’re busy or stressed or frustrated at the world, controlling your emotions is hard.  Maybe you keep yourself from yelling, but you still snap and say something harshly.  You could’ve handled it better and didn’t.  That’s when emotional intelligence is key.

It’s been six months since I read Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and I just took the emotional intelligence assessment again.  I'm happy to report that my scores increased.  And I continue to be a harsh critic of myself, so those scores are still nothing to brag about.

What I’ve been doing to improve:

  1. Give myself time to think.  I practically ran from meeting to meeting in the past, and I realized that even those I was in a meeting physically, mentally I was somewhere else.  It wasn’t working—for me or for others.  So now I plan my day around where I need to be the most while still allowing slack time between meetings.  This allows me to compile my thoughts before moving on with my day, as well as have follow-up conversations with others as needed.
  2. Recognize when my self-control is weakest.  It sounds silly, but the best way I have found to do this is think of myself like a toddler: am I hungry or tired?  If so, I’m more likely to be cranky, which means I’m more likely to say or do something with little regard for others’ feelings.  In these situations, I can choose what to do: declare my grumpiness to others upfront, avoid others, or delay taking action or saying anything until I am feeling more like myself and can think more clearly.
  3. Look at others’ faces more, as well as their body language.  Rather than rely on quick glances at others in a meeting to gauge reactions, I try to watch a little more closely how they are reacting to what is being said and how they are expressing themselves.  It helps me to feel more connected.  I can better see the impact of my own words on others, which keeps me feeling human rather than made of tin and in need of a heart:

In a future post, I’ll share what I’m doing to further improve my emotional intelligence.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.