April 2009 - Putting Emotional Intelligence to Practice
My wife and I vacationed in Florence and Rome, Italy the middle of March for 12 days. Part of our time was to visit our daughter in Florence, who is studying there for the semester.
The day before our departure, I started feeling anxious about visiting a foreign country and flight lag. As I tried to fall asleep, my stomach was in knots. I began asking myself, “What is happening? Why am I feeling this way? What can I do to change the way I’m feeling?”
This is a great example of applying the first competency of emotional intelligence – self- awareness: Tuning into what’s going on with you emotionally and recognizing and acknowledging your emotional state. I didn’t like my emotional state and realized that if I didn’t relax and get some sleep, I’d be a basket case by early morning. I had a difficult experience in 1996 when we traveled to Paris, where I didn’t sleep for the first three days. I was determined not to go through that experience this time.
So, I applied the second competency of emotional intelligence – self-management: What can I do to control my emotions more effectively? I used several strategies.
• I told myself how I want to feel and tried to envision that in my mind.
• I took long and slow breaths.
• I prayed that all will be well and how blessed I was to see my daughter.
• I stayed focused in the present.
Well, it worked. My body and stomach relaxed and I had a restful sleep. There were several other times during the trip when anxiety would rear its head. I used the same strategies and the anxiety disappeared. As a result, I had a great time with my wife and daughter!
Anxiety can appear in many work situations – talking with your supervisor about a difficult work assignment, public speaking, confronting an employee about a work or behavior concern, telling employees they will be laid off, dealing with unforeseen change, or changing jobs. Using our emotional intelligence in these situations can be an effective skill to counter anxious times in our lives.
Thankfully, I was open to recognize my emotional state and use strategies to self-manage my emotions that I learned from my work in this subject area. It does take practice!