emotional intelligence 101

First, I have to say, I’m baaaccckkkk! I took quite the hiatus and have been feeling just a tad bit guilty about it. The truth is, a few things rocked my world since my last post and I just haven’t had the emotional energy to blog.

The last post that I wrote for my blog highlighted our fun-filled trip to Las Vegas – aka the first overnight trip we took since Juliet was born. It was nerve wracking being away from our little one, but I knew she was in good hands. And, we weren’t traveling to another country, so I felt safe. How naïve was I? One short week later, the Las Vegas shooting massacre happened. In short order, we found out that the asshole who did it had been in Vegas the same weekend we were there. Crazy thing was, we had such a great time that weekend in Vegas, that we actually talked about going back and would have been there the weekend of the massacre. Even crazier than that, my husband is friends with Jason Aldean’s drummer, so it is likely we would have been at the show the night of the shooting. I’ve been reeling from the horribly sickening feeling of “that could have been us!”

Fast forward one week later and we awoke to the news that our beloved Napa was set ablaze. My husband’s hometown of Santa Rosa was ablaze. Many of the memories we had as a young couple were made in Santa Rosa. Many of the memories we have made in the last 10 years have been made in Napa. This fire was ravaging through my special places –  places that I hold dear in my heart and taking literally everything from people I love and care about.

It was an emotional period of time – the wind was officially out of my sails.

Two months have flown by as I’ve been trying to find the motivation to write again, work has been off the charts busy, AND I’ve been frantically trying to figure out how to parent a mobile child. But, like I said…I’m baaaccckkkk!!!!! I can’t promise that I will never go “dark” on you again, but I will try to do better; that much I CAN promise!

But, I digress! This post is supposed to be about emotional intelligence. So, here we go.

What is Emotional Intelligence or EQ? Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. There are five major categories of emotional intelligence: (1) self-awareness, (2) self-regulation, (3) motivation, (4) empathy, and (5) social skills.

Inc.com ran an article on Katie Couric’s astute response to being called out on social media for not publicly speaking out on the Matt Lauer situation. Katie’s response is the perfect example of a high EQ level. Sure, she could have simply not responded, gotten defensive about not speaking out on the matter or, even worse, she could have chosen that time to break her silence and HOPEFULLY condemn the actions of her former colleague. We can all take a page from Katie’s book on how to respond in situations such as these. Had she chosen to go any other route, I believe she would have not been true to herself – she would have been acting out of emotion and I think we can all agree that we are never the best version of ourselves when we act based on emotion! I don’t know about you all, but when I look back at the actions I regret most, more often than not, they are the actions I’ve taken in haste and out of raw emotions. No doubt that Katie is bubbling over with emotion on this topic, but she exhibited self-regulation and didn’t let her emotions overtake her.

If you’re scratching your head right now and wondering how to be more like Katie, you’re not alone! A high EQ level is not easy, it doesn’t come naturally for many, and it takes work! Just because you know you should do something doesn’t mean you will—especially when you become overwhelmed by stress, which can override your best intentions. In order to permanently change behavior in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to overcome stress in the moment, and in your relationships in order to remain emotionally aware. Let’s discuss the five main components of emotional intelligence.

Self-Awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen. How in tune with your emotions are you? Can you easily identify what emotion you are feeling, whether it is anger, sadness or fear? They all feel quite similar but are rooted in very different places within your brain and how you react should be different, depending on which emotion you are truly feeling. You can gain a lot of control over your emotions by simply recognizing them for what they are.

Self-Regulation is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior. In other words, recognize what you’re experiencing in that moment and choose to have control over your response. Remain in control of yourself and your actions.

In order to be motivated you need clear goals and a positive attitude. Set a goal, commit to achieving it and throw negative self-talk out the door. Believe in yourself!

Empathy is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on. In order to be empathetic, you MUST dialogue with the person you are dealing with. A major mis-step in being empathetic is to assume you know what the other person is feeling without engaging the person to get to the source of their emotions. If you have a negative interaction with your spouse or a colleague, you might assume they are angry with you when, in fact, they are just hurt and will feel much better after a heartfelt apology from you. Empathy is a two-way street; you have to give it to receive it.

We all have people in our lives who seem to naturally connect with people in a very authentic way. Those people have a high degree of social skills aka people skills. It’s usually easy to talk to and like people with good social skills. Those with strong social skills are typically team players. Rather than focus on their own success first, they help others develop and shine. Remember that we rise by lifting others.

As I said earlier in this post, EQ takes work and is ever-evolving. Some days you will nail it, just like Katie. Others you will fall flat – just as I have many times. Just like everything else in life, brush it off, apologize to others as necessary, own your mistakes and fight the good fight!

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