How to develop your own emotional intelligence


emotional intelligence

emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to recognise and manage our emotions and the emotions of others. Daniel Goldman who is an expert in this area says ‘The rules for work are changing, we are being judged by a new yardstick. How well we handle ourselves and each other.

We have two types of intelligence, the intellect is the newer part of the brain (neocortex). The subcortex is the emotional centre of the brain and is the older part of the brain, which works with the intellectual centres.

EI is vital for superior performance wherever the focus is people

The academic ability may get you the job but your EI determines your Empathy, Adaptability and persuasiveness that determines leadership potential. Many people who are book smart, end up working for people who have a lower IQ but excel in EI.


EI in Women and Men

Women on average are more aware of their emotions, show more empathy and are more adept interpersonally. Men are more self confident and optimistic, adapt more easily and handle stress better.

These new rules will predict who will be a star performer and who is most likely to derail.


A good example used is around sports performance. During the two weeks of the Olympics, there are more world records set than at any other time. Some athlete’s excel and perform at their best while others fall apart. Why?  Our ability to identify and manage our emotions determines how we respond in a stressful situation.

Make that choice to manage your emotions.

Emotional intelligence gives you the edge. So, if what you are doing is not working, you may as well try something different. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

Emotional Intelligence can be taught.  There are 4 steps:

  1. Knowing your Emotions

This requires us to stop and think about how we are feeling as failure to do this may result in us acting our emotion out on others.  It is really about body awareness; ‘How am I feeling in my body? What emotions are present?’. Indicators can be:

Your body language – Your tone – Your stress levels- Your reactions – Your emotional state

How you have framed the situation – The beliefs that are affecting the situation.


How can you develop Self Awareness?

By understanding how the brain works. Our emotional brain is different to the cognitive brain. It has a Fight or Flight response, which operates one hundred times faster that the cognitive (IQ) brain. In the amygdala part of the brain chemicals are released into our bodies that increase our heart rate and bring on a fight or flight response. Awareness of this, creates the possibility for us to react in a way that works better for us.  This enhances our ability to think clearly and respond in a way that works better.

Can you catch it? When your brain shifts into self-protection mode and is on high alert? There is a threat looming. You will have a kneejerk reaction, unless you respond more effectively.

Q: How am I in my body? Is my stomach tight?

Q: What emotions are present? Anxiety, Worry, Panic, Irritation, Anger, Panic, Rage.


  1. Self Management

Self management is about when you are under pressure are your thoughts helping you or hurting you?

Do you see it as a Crisis or a Learning Opportunity?

If I see it as a crisis, my physiology changes with blood vessels constricting, reducing oxygen to the brain so we cannot be at our best.

Reframe the event as a learning Opportunity as if I see it as an opportunity to grow and learn I reduce the threat and change my physiology. Blood vessels dilate instead of constricting, increasing oxygen to the brain and ensuring we respond at our best.

SOS allows you to respond better

S is for Stop – Hit your PAUSE button; I am not fighting tigers

O is Oxygenate – 3 Deep abdominal breaths ensure you self calm

S is Step Back & Say: ‘What do I need to do for myself now?’

Take an Action for Self, instead of an Action against another. This action may be:

  • Walk away for a drink of water, Open your palms
  • Count to 10
  • If you are passive, you may need to speak up

Why? Because the PAUSE stop’s you going into story and allows you the possibility of responding in a more effective way.

Take care of yourself emotionally by putting strategies in place to react differently

Resilient people know when something goes wrong; they need to immediately think ‘How can I make this better?’

What is your story/default? ‘I cannot do this, I am not good enough?’ or ‘I have not done this before, but John knows about this and I can ask for some help or support, I can give it a go and do my best’.

You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf


  1. Awareness of other people’s emotions

The heart of this is empathy. Empathy is the intention to connect in the present moment and really being present to the other person and listen to them. Is it good for business? Yes. A  survey of doctors showed that they get sued less and yet it took only three minutes to be successfully empathic in a heartfelt way.

The Art of Listening

A client who had undergone a trauma said:

‘Few offered what I needed; which was to have someone just Be There, and maybe offer a silent hug. Most offered what I did not want: Talking, giving advice or judging, wanting to Fix or Rescue me.


I needed someone to be able to sit in my pain with me at that time, someone to simply be there and accompany me, a hand to hold and a heart that could understand’.


How to develop empathy

Practice listening for five minutes without interruption, but listening with your heart for the feelings that are under the words.


  1. Social Skills

This builds on 1,2,3 where the focus is of awareness of your own emotions and more aware of the emotions of others. The more we are in charge and able to regulate how we feel, the more we are able to do it for others. Therefore, we are more effective as leaders, as we have more impact and influence in co ooperation, collaboration, as well as conflict resolution.

Separate the behaviour from the person

Learning to separate the behaviour from the person, allows us to deal with situations more skillfully.


An example of this was Linda Lantieri who was confronted by three fourteen year old teenage boys holding a knife in New York late at night.

‘Give us your Purse!’

Thought frightened, she remembered to take a deep breath and replied coolly: ‘I’m feeling a little uncomfortable; you know guys you’re in my space; I’m wondering if you could step back a little?’

And they did.

‘Now, I want to hear what you said to me; but to tell the truth; I’m a little nervous with the knife; I’m wondering if you could put that away?’. After what seemed like an eternity of silence and uncertainty, the knife was put in the pocket.


Quickly reaching into her purse and taking out €20, she caught the knife of the knife holder. ‘Who should I give this to?’ she asked. ‘Me’ he replied. Glancing at the other two, she asked ‘Do you agree?’ and one nodded. She handed the leader the money. ‘Great’.

‘Now; here is what’s going to happen. I am going to stay right here while you walk away’. And they did and broke into a run.

Linda was the founder of Resolving Conflict Creatively in Harlem NY, which allowed her to create a Win/Win situation.


  • Remain calm (and you calm the other party)
  • Tune into your feelings and express them ‘I feel nervous’
  • Show a willingness to work things out by talk; rather than escalating it with more aggression
  • State your point of view in neutral language; not an arguementative tone where defence meets defence
  • Try find an equitable way to resolve to find a solution both sides can live with

What personal competencies help?

  • Self aware
  • Ability to self regulate & recover from shock using the breath
  • Focus on her R Responding well to the situation
  • Empathy – she cultivated a rapport
  • Social Skills: ability to read the situation, to interact smoothly, to use her skills to persuade, to negotiate and settle the dispute and engage their co operation.

For this reason, EI is three times more likely to bring career success than your IQ as we work with people.

How to appear more confident

Amy Cuddy did a TED Talk about the importance of body posture and how we can change how we feel by using certain postures. When public speaking we can use body postures in advance to ‘Fake it till you become it’. Adopting a confident open assertive body posture helps us feel more confident as our body changes our minds and our minds change our behaviour. We move from ‘I am not supposed to be here’ to ‘Oh, my god, I am going to do it!’. Try it.