Emotions…we all have them, they are core to who we are, they contribute to our sense of wellbeing and happiness, our confidence, our success. They impact our thinking, our behaviors, our health and our performance. In fact there isn’t a moment go by where we aren’t experiencing some kind of emotion.
Emotional Intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions, it’s all about us managing our emotions rather than our emotions managing us. It underpins our capacity to work well with others, manage stress and resolve conflict. The good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed.
There are many definitions, I like this one due to its thoroughness:
“Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”Mayer & Salovey, 1997.
Emotions remain an untapped aspect of leadership, performance and self-development, especially when it comes to our ability to make decisions, get along with others and communicate effectively. Emotions are linked to our body and our brain, they occur automatically, without conscious thought and they impact and influence our behavior, thoughts and physical body.
At a simplistic level positive emotions generate a neurotransmitter called dopamine, and dopamine is required for the prefrontal cortex part of our brain to function well. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for our ability to think strategically, make decisions, plan, rationalize and self regulate. So when we are experiencing positive emotions we are generating dopamine and therefore are better equipped to think on our feet, articulate ourselves effectively, manage ourselves, make good decisions and plan etc. One way we can generate more dopamine by generating positive emotions.
Quick tips to generate positive emotions:
- Change your physiology:
- Breathing exercises
- Stretching and moving your body
- Go for a quick walk
- Change your posture to one that represents confidence and positivity
- You can also change your emotion by changing your thinking:
- Visualise success and generate the feeling that comes with that
- Remember past events that have gone well and recreate that feeling
- Listen to your self-talk and monitor if it is helping you? Or do you need to change it?
- Think about the thing that gives you the most joy
- Consider what you will learn by doing your best
- Think about what part of the task/event you will enjoy the most? Is it the accolades you’ll receive once you have done a great job, or is it the experience of overcoming your anxiety, or is it the opportunity to showcase your expertise?
- Consider what strengths you will use to do a great job, eg: are you a great storyteller, are you a change agent, are you a great explainer, do you use humour well?
Emotions can lead to our best performance or our worst. The difference is emotional intelligence. Emotions are another of the topics we’ll be covering on the LEAP programme.
“ I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”
– Maya Angelou