Do you often feel like you don't have a good grip on your reactions and emotions at work? A simple 4M framework can help you to Measure, Monitor, Manage and Mobilize your emotional intelligence to work more effectively with your own emotions and improve your relationships at work. And yes, feelings do have a place at work. An important one.
Let’s start with the basics: families of emotion. South African psychologist Susan David cites six of them in her emotional agility research: angry, sad, anxious, hurt, embarrassed, happy. Now, some of these can be downright uncomfortable at times, especially if their intensity is high. So here’s an eye-opener. All emotions serve an important purpose! Sadness reminds us something matters to us. Anxiety helps us to be ready. Fear mobilizes our body to run (in case a bear is chasing us). Today, it’s more often a response to a co-worker who said something offensive or stepped on our toes, right? Emotional intelligence can help whether you're dealing with a grumpy bear or an over-stepping co-worker.
The business case for integrating EI awareness into leading organizations is well established, and companies like PepsiCo, Virgin Group, Apple, Pixar and others invest deeply in it, and measure the results. Building your own emotional intelligence and your team’s can enhance credibility, trust and business results. More good news? The sky is the limit, as we can each grow our emotional intelligence for the rest of our lives.
These 4 M’s of emotional intelligence are a simple framework to help you understand the foundations of EI and mobilize the benefits right away:
While the science of measuring emotional intelligence emerged widely in the 1980’s, the actual measurement of EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) didn’t get traction until the late 1990’s, when the EQ-i 2.0 and other valid, reliable assessments were launched.
Based on the original BarOn EQ-i authored by Reuven Bar-On, copyright 1997.
EQ assessments are used broadly in leadership development and coaching to create a baseline for comparison before honing in on specific areas to develop, such as impulse control, emotional expression and empathy. In fact, participants in the U of R’s Advanced Leadership Certificate complete the EQ-i 2.0 assessment and receive professional coaching as they go through this cohort-based advanced program to enhance their emotional intelligence and leadership.
For a quicker peek into your own EQ, there are a variety of pared-down EQ quizzes available online for free so you can get insights into your EI and ideas to improve it.
Monitoring your day-to-day habits, especially those unconscious ones, can help to decide what aspects of your own emotional intelligence you could maximize and which could use some tuning up.
Recognizing when someone else is having an emotional reaction can help you tailor your approach. If an employee who is usually chatty gets quiet, it might be a sign that a hot button has been pushed. They may even be an amygdala hijack, experiencing fight, flight, freeze or fawn. Holding space for them to work through their feelings or respecting their need to be quiet can enhance trust and safety. You can enhance your emotional literacy as well, by becoming more aware of the various emotions humans experience. A simple internet search for families of emotions charts is a good place to start.
Beware of projecting your own emotions on others. Instead, monitor theirs. Your own go-to emotions may not be what the other person is experiencing. Rather than thinking someone is mad, it may turn out that they’re irritated, frustrated, or worried. The best way to find out is to ask. Engaging with others to understand how they feel can lead to deeper relationships. And monitoring the intensity of yours and others’ emotions can help you decide when to carry on the conversation and when to use the power of the pause to cool down.
As you measure and monitor your own EQ, you may recognize trends in how you experience and react to internal and external stimuli. Now you can integrate a new EI strategy into your self management: name it to tame it. For example, do you experience imposter syndrome, feel easily discouraged, or get stuck in excessive rumination or paralysis by analysis? Naming these states can help you manage through them. Are you impulsive or quick to move on when emotions come up? Does your own sense of self sometimes lead to imposter syndrome or low self-regard?
Now that you’ve named it, how can you find some practical self-management strategies? Try TedTalks, reading books or taking a workshop on emotional intelligence. Consider enrolling in an EI-focused leadership program or working with a coach or therapist.
Thanks to neuroscientists, we now know that we can shift our automatic habits into more helpful ones, so monitoring your own and others’ emotional reactions, responses and defaults can take your interactions from wobbly to wonderful.
Mobilizing your enhanced EI awareness means you can step into managing yourself and your relationships with others even more effectively. No need to hesitate. Use the 4Ms to start today. You can simply choose behaviours, reactions or habits that would better serve you and find new ways of responding. You can coach others to grow their EQ, by engaging openly with them and asking them what they would like to work on. Whether you are highly sensitive and tuned in to your own and others emotions, or are the last one to recognize the elephant in the room, you’ll find EI strategies help.
In your journey to boost your EQ and equip your EI toolbox, watch for the juicy rewards: self agency, self regulation, and mutually beneficial relationships. Oh, and yes, all of this helps work go more smoothly and creates innovation, trust and business results. The juice is worth the squeeze.
About Cristine Saxon, MA
Cristine Saxon is a Certified Leadership Coach, an Associate Certified Coach for the International Coaching Federation (ICF), leadership consultant and an instructor at the U of R's Centre for Continuing Education. She writes regularly on LinkedIn and publishes video shorts on her YouTube Channel from the cockpit of her kayak in the ocean near her home on Vancouver Island.