Emotional Intelligence – Leadership Lessons from my three-year-old.
Max turned three in August and has recently discovered his testosterone button and with this discovery, I have realised some key emotional triggers that are not indicative of best practice emotional intelligence. I had thought that only selected dealings with telco organisations could create the level of internalised anger and frustration that is brought upon by a testosterone fuelled exchange with my three-year-old.
This is where I have leveraged the concept of my inside voice not becoming my outside voice and where thoughts do NOT become actions. Mostly my practice of emotional intelligence is related to understanding the impact on self and others of specific behaviour. Combined with a mixture of intelligence, common sense and emotional strength we forge on.
Imagine, if you will, and I know you can, the repetitive parental tone of:
(Mum) go to bed,
(Max) “but I’m not tired”
(Mum) Ok, go to bed,
(Max) “but I want a drink, I’m thirsty”
(Mum) Ok, now go to bed,
(Max) “but I need my teddy from over there”
(Mum) Right, now go to bed.
Ok, Max goes to bed. Two minutes later, a pitter patter of feet down the hallway,
(Max) but mum, I have to tell you something, very important.
(Mum) Now slightly louder, Max it can wait, now go to bed. Right Now.
Now begins the emotional blackmail,
(Max) “but Mum, I’m lonely,”
Slight heart string tug. Max goes to bed. Again, a pitter patter of feet down the hallway,
(Max) “but mum, I’m not tired,” followed by an accidentally on purpose right hook to my cheek
My mental explosion is set and I can feel the emergence of “CRAY, CRAY” mum! The sting in my cheek pounding and choice, inappropriate, language swirling around my head. If I open my mouth right now, I am going to be a complete maniac. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe. ….
So, have you ever felt this emotional hijacking at work. Ever reacted in a way that you regretted, that may be be deemed ‘over-emotional, inappropriate, not professional, immature’ or wished hindsight was suddenly foresight, or wished you had gone for a quick walk or talked to a friend before sending that email or opening your mouth and saying those words?
Why is it so important?
Because it is the foundation for critical leadership and workplace skills, not limited to, and including:
Effective Decision Making, Change Tolerance, Social Skills, Flexibility, Trust, Anger Management, Time Management, Communication, Empathy, Presentation Skills, Team Work, Assertiveness, Negotiation.
Because it impacts all areas of our life:
Relationships: When you understand your own emotions and those of others and you learn to manage them you will improve your ability to communicate effectively in all your relationships.
Overall Work Performance: Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career.
Body health: Stress in the work place can lead to serious health problems. We when cannot manage our stress through emotional intelligence it can raise blood pressure, impact your immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. To improve emotional intelligence, we must first learn to relieve and manage emotional stress.
Mental health: Unmanaged stress, anxiety or being overwhelmed can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to other mental health issues such as depression, mood swings, loneliness and isolation.
What does Emotional Intelligence look like alongside behavioural styles of DISC?
One of the first components in the emotional intelligence mode is SELF-AWARENESS
That is, the ability to understand your own moods, emotions and motivations as well as how they impact others.
Followed closely by SELF-MANAGEMENT
That is, the ability to control un-resourceful moods or emotions, and to think before acting.
Then SELF-MOTIVATION, what strengths do I have that can assist me in my contribution to a successful outcome.
Moving on to SOCIAL AWARENESS, the ability to read others emotions and understand how to manage interactions with them based on their reactions.
Finally, RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT all about building rapport, finding common ground and creating networks with others
So, when I was dealing with Max, I was firstly self-aware that my feelings were escalating, I was very aware of my building frustration and also that it was not appropriate to unleash on my three-year-old.
My self-management strategy was to breathe and listen to my self talk. He’s a child, he’s only three, he is clearly going through something right now as this is unusual behaviour for him! He skipped the terrible twos, perhaps it’s the turbulent threes! If in doubt google, do others have this issue…. (Pause), wow so many others, so there is nothing wrong with him. So, I’m ok too! (because of course it’s really all about me!)
Self-Motivation, be patient, I’m good at patience, it’s a strength, I know, this too shall pass.
Social Awareness, this is the rollercoaster of child development, nothing you’re thinking of will work without some fall out. Be prepared for and accept the tantrum!
Now I’m ready:
Time for ACTION. I say nothing, just collect Max in my arms, go, put him in his bed and close the door on the way out. He will cry, and that’s ok, not a sign of failure, you can bear it! Earphones on, light out. Breathe! I know that in the morning he will run in all smiles, “good morning mum” as if nothing has happened!
Decide today to improve you Emotional Intelligence skills
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