In Part 1 of my blog, Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, I spoke about the importance of Empathy – and making the effort to see things from the other person’s point of view. Today I want to share two other ways I have learned to improve my level of EQ, or Emotional Intelligence:
Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation
To have self-awareness is the ability to recognise your own emotions, recognise the effect that emotions have on you physiologically, and recognise the effects they have both on your behaviours and how others will behave towards you.
Socrates (the philosopher, not the footballer) said “Know thyself” in order to understand the workings of the world. When dealing with people you have to be aware of how your own reactions and emotions can affect others and their view of us.
You need to be aware of our emotions in real-time – as they happen. You will often have little control over when you experience emotions, especially negative ones such as nervousness, loss of motivation or anger. However, you can regulate how you process the emotion and for how long you will feel that emotion.
I genuinely can feel a lot of anger very quickly, which has not always worked well for me at times in the past. Unless you’ve just won an Oscar, it is generally not advisable to communicate when in an overly-emotional state. Whether you feel angry, upset or fearful, you can do lasting damage to relationships if you communicate when you’re not in control.
So when you feel a negative emotion kicking in, recognise it and know it will pass. Don’t let the emotion control your behaviour – instead, you manage the emotion. Consider what the behaviour was that triggered the issue, then identify what impact that behaviour has had on you to give rise to how you feel. Armed with these three pieces of knowledge – Behaviour, Impact, Feeling, also known as BIF – you now have the tools to give constructive and effective feedback. Give a BIF.
By communicating to the other person what their behaviour was, how it had an impact, and how that has made you feel; you have proactively managed the situation. Rather than sitting there seething in anger, or wallowing in self-pity, you have analysed the situation and have channelled your emotions to provide constructive feedback to tackle the problem at the source. As a result, you have self-regulated your emotions and are in control of the situation.
In my role as a Senior Project Consultant with Aspira, I am sometimes required to take on Recovery Projects – projects that have gone wrong, and where I come in as a Recovery PM to get things back on track. In this scenario, relationships can be fraught as people will feel nervous and vulnerable. This makes it absolutely critical that I maintain self-control and give calm, objective feedback to the project team members throughout. By acting in a firm yet professional manner, the team can see that there’s a ‘new sheriff in town’ and will raise their own level of performance.
To conclude, one of the key strengths I look for in a great Project Manager is emotional intelligence, and the ability to see there can be many shades of black and white.