Humans are emotional. We are at times joyful and connected to others. At other times we may experience sadness, fear, anger or perhaps shame. Typically we may try to repress our emotions because they make us feel uncomfortable.
Our emotions provide us with much information, the information we need to understand ourselves better. They all deliver gifts that help us navigate connections and build more effective relationships. Developing emotional intelligence helps us better understand our emotions and those of others.
As leaders, we work hard to develop productive relationships that will help us build community and ensure productivity, innovation and engagement. Emotional intelligence helps us do this. It helps us recognize how we are showing up, how others are showing up and how we can work with them to build connections.
The first step is developing self-awareness, the ability to understand our emotions as we experience them and appreciate the trigger that is causing a particular feeling. When we feel joyful, what is behind this? Perhaps we are feeling embarrassed, and with self-awareness, we can begin to understand what lies behind the shame we are experiencing.
Developing self-awareness helps us stop reacting and begin to respond with intention. We are aware of what we are saying. Why we are saying it and how others could interpret our response. Once we can experience this, we will become better leaders, capable of building the relationships needed to support us as the leaders we want to be.
3 Steps to Develop Self-awareness:
- Be Present At The Moment:
Much gets said these days about being in the moment so that we appreciate what is going on for us and others right now. We are not thinking about what we are going to have for dinner, what happened in a conversation that went poorly an hour ago. We are present to what is going on right now. Only when we are present can we begin to pay attention to what we are feeling, what emotions are surfacing for us.
- Acknowledge and Accept:
So often we think of emotions as wrong and so we ignore them. Usually, we think of feelings in a negative context. We may not want to feel fear because we believe it limits us. Anger because it prompts us to react in a way that does not serve us. Or sadness because we find it unpleasant. All emotions are gifts we need to acknowledge and understand. If we don’t listen to what comes up for us, we may miss an opportunity to change something or do something that gets us into harm’s way. When we pay attention to what is going on for us and acknowledge it, we can begin to develop awareness and understand the messages our emotions provide.
- Be Curious:
Once aware of the emotion experienced, we need to begin to understand what is behind it. What is the reason we are experiencing it right now? As we listen to our body and ask ourselves open questions that begin with ‘what’ or ‘how’ we begin to understand the gifts of our emotions. We understand how to use these gifts to be more effective in our lives. Asking questions such as ‘what am I feeling?’, ‘what triggered this feeling?’ will help us understand ourselves and our emotions.
Co-Founder of The Institute Of Curiosity
Kathy Taberner is a retired occupational therapist, Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with a MA in leadership and training. With her daughter, she is a co-founder of the Institute of Curiosity and co-author of the ‘Power of Curiosity’. She is committed to supporting women to strive to become the dynamic and successful leaders they want to be. Her research project for her Masters explored the leadership styles and emotional intelligence of senior female leaders in BC.
She and her husband of many years, share their time between the Okanagan and Vancouver.