It’s easy to be aware of what you’re doing, but can you label what you feel? Our education system values diplomas and work experience, but emotional intelligence helps us communicate which is arguably more important. We can minimise misunderstandings, be self-aware and lead happier lives.
The question is, how?
According to Marc Brackett most employers are desperate for people who are able to keep their cool, know when they reach their limit and ask for help. A research psychologist on emotional intelligence, emotional learning and the author of ‘Permission to Feel’, he should know. It is true that upbringing plays a factor, but not all is lost.
Expanding our emotional vocabulary and regularly checking in is the first step to growing emotionally. Brackett developed a £0.99 app called Mood Meter to help with this. Further, and ironically, time away from our phones helps with emotional intelligence. In a study, he found that sixth graders without screen time for 5 days had an easier time reading people.
“The first step is to Recognize what we’re feeling.
The second step is to Understand what we’ve discovered—what we’re feeling and why.
The next step is to properly Label our emotions, meaning not just to call ourselves “happy” or “sad” but to dig deeper and identify the nuances and intricacies of what we feel.
The fourth step is to Express our feelings, to ourselves first and then, when right, to others.
The final step is to Regulate—as we’ve said, not to suppress or ignore our emotions but to use them wisely to achieve desired goals. ”
It’s hard to be self-aware about our emotions at first. I talked about emotional sobriety before, and here’s another method. Measure your emotions on a scale of Energy and Pleasantness. A lot of feelings get clustered into anger for instance because of how it may be expressed. In reality, it could be worry, fear, jealousy or more. Learning its true name gives you the power to address it when the feeling arises.
Think you can swallow your feelings?
“Repressed emotions are metastatic, they are not benign.”
As Marc Brackett and Brene Brown talk about in this wonderful podcast and blog post, that is impossible. Emotions never go away, they will only go beneath the surface and fester. If unaddressed and unprocessed, the issue will only become larger. Our feelings will unconsciously express themselves in our behaviour and layer up, making it much harder for us to get to the core. Do yourself a favour and do not try to pretend you don’t have emotions!
We cannot help what we feel, but we can help how we deal with them. Pretending different, wishing for them to go away or ignoring our needs is counterintuitive. Let me know if you have any experiences where emotional intelligence came in handy, I for sure can recount many where I wish my managers had taken classes! Not just for the workplace, these practices will help you in your relationships, family and friendships. Not to forget, your soul!