We all have less than glorious days, where emotions controlled us rather than we controlled our emotions. Yes, we sometimes feel ashamed that we lost our temper…
We were so triggered by this nasty email that our answer was even nastier… and it escalated. Then consequences went out of proportion. This turned out as terribly disappointed, given it all started with a tiny thing that could have been settled way better!
Time to raise our head, shake the shame away and explore how to control our emotions.
Let’s focus on making next time much more intelligent.
3 simple steps for emotionally intelligent leaders
Emotional intelligence does not start with yelling, but with acknowledging the emotion, then understanding self and others so we can choose our next step wisely.
Just these 3 simple steps:
We cannot escape the abundant stimulations that keep us alive and we cannot help that some of these stimulations trigger us.
Yet, the way we decide to respond instead of reacting remains within our control.
As human beings, we are free to choose our attitude in any circumstance.
But, there’s a trick…
We first need to take time and calm down.
Why do we need time to calm down?
Handling emotions is a complex process involving several parts of our brain. Many of them are meant for survival. In a situation of an immediate danger, speed is of essence and instinctive reactions spontaneously prevail. The reptilian brain designed for survival dictates very basic behaviours such as Freeze, Flight, Fight and Flock.
For anything more subtle, we first need our reason to take over, the neo-cortex part of the brain to be back in the driver seat.
And we all have experienced that power struggles take times and energy…
especially if we want reason and greater good to prevail!
STOP: the one tool of emotional intelligence we cannot ignore
Stop invites us to PAUSE, allowing time for our reason to get back into power instead of brutality.
Stop also stands for:
- Trust & Breathe
Overwhelmed by anger, we will say the only thing we will regret our entire life.
Staying silent is an excellent way to avoid deeper trouble…
Silence also is quite unusual, sending a message to our brain that we are paying special attention, that what is about to come is important and requires some thinking.
We typically get triggered when something we value is threatened.
Someone slaps my child, I get triggered…
I receive some irrelevant negative feedback, I get triggered…
My budget is cut by half, I get triggered…
The strategy I championed is not adopted, I get triggered…
I’ve spent two hours explaining and the work is still not correct, I get triggered…
Yet, in all these same situations, many people would not get triggered.
Not so long ago in history, beating children was acceptable…
Feedback is a learning path, criticism is only valid if I choose to…
Economy is the mother of resourcefulness…
Raising my persuasion skills is on my bucket list…
We all learn at different rhythms…
Getting triggered is a matter of perspective and a very personal stance.
As such, we can adopt a different stance and it becomes our choice.
But in many circumstances, when we get triggered, we lose sense of this choice among different perspectives and spontaneously rather hold to our position.
Hence, an invitation to trust ourselves, trust others and trust the process.
Trusting ourselves and others means acknowledging that all human beings are resourceful, capable of change and of adopting different perspectives. We are all human beings.
Trust the process consists in believing there is light at the end of the tunnel, that for every problem there are several solutions, that we are in good hands and can surrender.
When our reptilian brain – the survival and brutal part of our brain – controls our body, it orders our organism to direct blood to our arms and legs to fight or fight. This happens at the expense of our brain that gets deprived from oxygen. Unfortunately, our brain consumes 80% of the oxygen our body inhale, hence our neo-cortex needs a lot of oxygen to function and even more to get back in control.
Breathing helps to bring oxygen back to our brain.
Abdominal breathing uses our respiratory capacity to its maximum and helps all our body and mind to relax.
Normal breathing does not provide these same results, since rhythm matters as well.
In emotional intelligence training workshops, I can show you how to use cardiac coherence to make the most of your breathing.
While we breath in silence, trusting ourselves and others, we can observe how rich the situation unfolds.
We notice our own physiological reactions and can choose to adjust.
We notice our own thoughts and can decide to dig further or change pattern.
We notice our own eagerness to act and can allow time to think about more options.
We notice others’ reactions and we may gather clues, missing information, find the root cause, embrace their point of view, consider different perspectives.
We notice how our reaction leads to others’ reaction and vice-versa, thus choosing to prioritize long-term over short-term for example.
It gives us a slice of curiosity to embrace a panoramic view.
Why do we need patience? And precisely when we are so inclined to react promptly?
No matter how much we pull on an emerging plant, it won’t grow quicker.
9 ladies expecting for a month won’t deliver what a single lady will offer in 9 months.
Maturity, growth, reflection takes time.
Rushing the process only makes it last longer.
Patience brings curiosity, invites care and foster progress. These speed the natural rhythm.
STOP gives us a Pause to Silence and Trust, to Breath while we Observe and cultivate Patience.
The whole process may last anything from a few seconds to an extreme 5 mins if we are in rage.
The pitfall to avoid!
This process is neither about resignation nor accepting anything. It is about calming us down first, then the most intelligent reaction could be to set firm boundaries very explicitly, to have courageous conversations and denounce abuse or to let go.
Choice of action is ours and ‘STOP’ helps us to make a more conscious choice.
Our next step
Knowing and understanding ‘STOP’ is the first step.
Here are 3 following steps.
Next step is using and abusing of ‘STOP’, so we experience its power and limitations.
Share in comments your own way to apply ‘STOP’ and what changes you noticed
Enlarge your toolkit
We often deal with different contexts, different cultures and different people, so we need a variety of tools to adapt and grow our flexibility.
Here are the ones I share in emotional intelligence workshops:
- Cardiac coherence
- Dynamic mindfulness
The more comfortable we are with a large portfolio of tools, the more resilient we grow.
Assess how well you already do and sharpen your habits
The next step also consists in preventing painful incidents by changing our behaviours.
We may need to start with an assessment on our level of emotional intelligence, then get coaching to identify what triggers us, why and what behaviours we can adjust to improve the way we relate to others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marianne Dupuis, executive & leadership coach is an international success catalyst. She has guided more than 600 people towards lasting success in leading across cultures. This success comes from her ability to connect with leaders all over the world, to joyfully embrace cultural diversity and systematically leverage on human potential. Pragmatic and direct, simple and flexible, committed and caring are all ways people describe her. Yet, do not only trust them, just meet Marianne and test how her programs make a lasting difference for you too. Your 1st step: Get her FREE Guide to master ‘Giving Effective Feedback across cultures’.