How to use emotional intelligence to navigate change
When we're going through turbulent times how can we recognise, accept and manage our own emotions? How can we support others in how they understand and express theirs? The key is emotional intelligence - a skill that we can all learn and use. Ryan Jackson draws on his experience as a serial entrepreneur, business success coach and motivational speaker to talk us through how we can use emotional intelligence to navigate change.
In a competitive world, your ability to be emotionally intelligent makes all the difference between getting ahead and being left behind. And yet, despite its importance in every human encounter, emotional intelligence is all-too-often an undervalued aptitude. Here’s how to hone your decision-making skills and improve your networking by recognising how your emotions drive your behaviour.
What is emotional intelligence?
The phrase was made popular by psychologist Dr Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. Essentially, the emotions you feel drive your behaviour. Emotional intelligence involves having emotional awareness: being able to identify your own feelings and call them out for what they are: e.g. fear, anger, upset. It involves the ability to harness your feelings and put them to good use in problem-solving or mindset – for example, using your fear to power your creativity, or your worry to identify alternatives, options and ways forward.
Developing a strong emotional awareness is crucial to overcoming impulsive behaviour that could negatively influence your business decisions. This also relates to recognising the emotions within colleagues, clients, and others – and how they can affect their behaviour. How many times have you said something in the heat of the moment only to regret it hours later? Emotions can make us behave in ways that are out of character.
Being emotionally intelligent means being able to manage, regulate or control your reactions. It also means having the ability to recognise and manage the emotions of other people, which is invaluable – especially when you are leading others through challenging times. It means having empathy and understanding, and being able to support, challenge and motivate your staff and others, to get the best out of them.
Times like these require an emotionally intelligent skillset, allowing you not to be drawn into the fear spread by the media, the negative emotions of your employees and the demands of your debtors. The business world can be a tough place, but emotional intelligence is a key characteristic that, once developed and harnessed, will take you to exponential heights.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, there are many entrepreneurs and leaders who have risen above pessimism. Those who have seen opportunities to start exciting new enterprises or to pivot and grow their existing businesses, and have pushed on, achieving greater success than they might have achieved in normal circumstances.
Whether they are conscious of it or not, successful entrepreneurs and business owners have managed to develop a strong emotional intelligence that enables them to be resilient.
The key to establishing success in these unprecedented times is to strengthen your own emotional awareness, manage your feelings and demonstrate resilience. Emotionally intelligent business owners think clearly, are aware of and acknowledge their emotions without being overwhelmed by them, and maintain a level head despite (or because of) what is going on around them.
Our emotional responses drive our behaviour, and our actions drive the outcomes we get. So, developing the skill of regulating your emotions – especially in difficult times and high-pressure situations – is paramount to success.
Developing and using emotional intelligence enables you to navigate change successfully. Recognising how your emotions drive your behaviour will not only improve your networking and hone your decision-making skills but enable your success in many other ways. Use emotional intelligence as the fuel to your fire, to make change work for you.
No matter what your situation, developing an emotional awareness is an essential skill to make better choices in life that will take you forward to where you want to be.
How to build emotional intelligence
- Learn from your past.
Stored unconscious feelings from previous experiences can prevent us from managing our emotional responses. Negative past events and encounters can haunt us for years. The emotions stay imprinted and play out when the subconscious mind detects a similar threat. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, take a step back and consider what emotions have been stirred up and why you might be feeling a certain way. This will help you feel more in control and prevent your emotions from guiding your decision-making.
- Look forward.
Use your past to leverage your future. Don’t dwell on negativity or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’; accept that everything up until now was necessary to lead you to this point and enjoy your ability to develop your next chapter. Use your experience to define your purpose and drive your business onwards.
- Be authentic.
Don’t try to be who you think people want you to be – it’s not about blocking your emotions altogether. The goal is to be more self-aware so that you can see your position objectively. Likewise, having empathy for others by recognising their emotional behaviour will help you keep a handle on yours.
Ryan Jackson is a serial entrepreneur, business success coach and motivational speaker who runs multiple businesses in the UK and abroad. Specialising in personal development, Ryan is passionate about inspiring others to become the best versions of themselves. His new book, The Success Rebellion, is released on 16 October 2020.