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.

Book Review: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Photo by Paul Pival

Photo by Paul Pival

The Scrum Masters in the organization that I coach went to a class on EQ, and one of them let me borrow the book they received in it, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry.  Like StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, this book includes a passcode to take an online assessment.

The book is organized by the 4 categories of emotional intelligence--self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management--and provides strategies for each category.  I thought it was an interesting read, although I wish I had taken the online assessment first so that I would have thought more about what I might do differently in my everyday life.  If it works with my schedule, I will likely take the EQ class.  There was a quote about change that resonated with me:

Change can be a little...

Embarrassing, because as you practice new things, the very people who feel you ought to change may poke fun at you, forget to encourage you along the way, or not even notice. Don't give up. The rewards will outweigh these challenges because you will be better positioned personally and professionally than you ever were before. 

I remember struggling with physics when I was in college, and my boyfriend at the time offered to tutor me.  It was painful for me to listen to him explain the subject, and I didn't want to ask questions and show that I didn't understand.  He wanted to help, but I wasn't fully open to it.  There are times when I sense the people I coach are experiencing similar challenges to being open; I know the internal struggle to be vulnerable and risk making mistakes that others may see all too well.  The book offered strategies to overcome those feelings, and I wish I had practiced them in the past.

In a typical "me" fashion, I rated myself rather harshly when I took the online assessment, and my scores are nothing to brag about.  I had already been reflecting on my skills since I'd read the book, and that may have affected how I scored myself.  Being aware of emotional intelligence is beneficial though, and I'm curious to see if I would score better in the future as I continue practice taking better care of myself by giving myself slack time to avoid burnout and add some of the book's strategies to my life.

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.