Emotional Intelligence in Our Lives – Part III

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”  Daniel Goleman

In October and November, I took an in-depth look at Emotional Intelligence (Self-Perception, Self-Expression, and Interpersonal Relationships).  This month is our final installment, a look at the final two realms of EI – Decision-Making and Stress Management.  I hope that you have found a deeper understanding of what EI is and its importance in being successful in your life.

As I write this month’s column, I am feeling a sense of sadness over the loss of my brother, and a sense of joy over the birth of my third grandchild, a boy.  These events in my life have illustrated for me the symmetry of life, that we all experience endings in our lives just as we experience beginnings.  We see it all around us; in our relationships, in the seasons, in the cycles of life based on our age.  There is a rhythm, all things have a season.

Death serves as a reminder to the living – “Do we like the direction our lives are taking?”  It affords us a chance to make changes.  Much of what I write about, and do as a coach, is about change and choice.  It’s motivated to help us all live better and be the best version of ourselves we can be.

Be well and do your best work,


Again, I thank ADVISA for their permission to use portions of their “Emotional Intelligence Development Guide” in my writing.

Decision-Making Realm

This realm concerns your ability to use your emotions in the best way when solving problems and making optimal choices.  It includes the subscales of Reality Testing – the capacity to see things as they are, rather than the way we wish or fear them to be; Problem Solving – finding solutions to problems in situations where emotions are involved, and to understand how emotions impact decision making; Impulse Control – is the ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive, or temptation to act.

Strategies for the Decision-Making Realm

  • Reality Testing
    • It is important to balance quantitative and qualitative information when making decisions and acting. Emotions provide important information about an event or a situation.
    • Pay attention to the emotional information present in your relationships.
    • When developing an opinion about someone or something seek outside information to verify what you are feeling.
    • Gather and discuss relevant information based on facts.
    • Conduct a SWOT analysis to improve your Reality Testing
    • When dealing with complex or important decisions develop best and worst case scenarios.
  • Problem Solving
    • Before jumping to a solution, slow down and seek first to understand all that is involved.
    • Ask relevant questions to accurately identify problems. Effective questions will uncover the information and understanding that can help construct relevant solutions.
    • Try to identify and clarify what the problem is.
    • Ask trusted colleagues to provide feedback to your solutions to problems.
    • Make sure your solutions contain a timeline and responsible parties.
    • When you are feeling overwhelmed emotionally, shift to problem solving mode – list everything you know about the problem and possible solutions.
  • Impulse Control
    • Developing a strong capability in impulse control is a key to good leadership.
    • Make sure your diet is balanced to insure proper blood sugar levels that affect moods.
    • Consistently exercise.
    • Develop ‘scripts’ that allow you to buy time to regain your composure.
    • Practice the ’20 minute solution.’ Distract yourself for 20 minutes – that’s how long it takes the Amygdala (emotional center of the brain) takes to regain composure.
    • Practice the HALT model. Don’t make any decisions when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Stress Management Realm

This realm concerns your ability to be flexible, tolerate stress and be optimistic.  It includes the subscales of Flexibility – the ability to adjust your emotions, thoughts, and behavior to changing situations and conditions. Stress Tolerance – the ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations without developing physical or emotional symptoms, actively and positively coping with stress. Optimism – the ability to look at the brighter side, maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity.  Success in these areas is about remaining calm and focused, the ability to change directions or what you believe when there is new evidence.  Doing well often involves the need to be resilient, dealing constructively with adversity, and maintaining a positive attitude.  In the workplace these skills are vital in dealing with tight deadlines, volatile personalities, and pressures of every day work.

Strategies for the Stress Management Realm

  • Flexibility
    • With new challenges, take time to see if past successes might apply to the current situation.
    • Practice relaxation techniques, including deep breathing to help you manage uncomfortable or ambiguous situations.
    • Continue to learn new hobbies or skills; by expanding your comfort zone you build greater capacity to handle the stress of more situations.
    • Listen with the intent to be influenced, finding aspects of the idea that has merit.
    • Ask more open-ended questions to learn more about other people’s perspectives.
  • Stress Tolerance
    • When tackling bigger projects, or a demanding workload assess if you have sufficient people, time, and expertise.
      • Use a prioritization tool to avoid leaving things to the last minute
      • Break larger tasks down to smaller components and concentrate on those that require your attention in the moment.
      • Ask for help.
    • Make a plan to renew your physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual (PIES) energy centers
      • Develop an exercise routine
      • Practice visualization
      • Learn to take regular breaks while working (every 90 minutes); change the activity (i.e., if you’ve been sitting for a long period, take a walk; intense mental, listen to music, etc.)
    • Make an intentional plan to unplug; experiment with making one day technology-free.
    • Plan at least one day where you are largely focused on non-work activities.
      • Increase your laughter quotient. Laughing releases health-promoting chemicals
      • Take all your earned vacation
    • Optimism
      • Identify positive individuals and intentionally spend time with them. Avoid negative people whenever possible.
      • Use a log to support the development of your optimism.
        • Remember and record times when you successfully solved a challenging problem or dealt with a difficult person
        • Identify and record what feels better and why
        • Make a list of positive affirmations about yourself and review them regularly
      • Find a mental or physical technique that you can use to challenge negative thoughts (i.e., an elastic band that you wear around your wrist and snap when you have a negative thought).
      • When you have a negative thought challenge your thinking (i.e., is this true, what is a different way to think about it).
      • When you hit a setback remind yourself that it is temporary not permanent.

The most important thing to remember about your emotional intelligence is that you can increase your development in the areas that are not as strong.  When I am debriefing an emotional intelligence assessment with a client, I often ask them how the various subscales (those that are better developed versus those that are not), are affecting their ability to deal well with situations in their life?  This helps me to understand their awareness of a given subscale and how it is working for them, or against them.  That information gives them a basis of understanding to create a plan of change.

As you think about your emotional intelligence in the realms of Self-Perception, Self-Expression, Interpersonal, Decision-Making, and Stress Management where are your opportunities for development?  What would you have if you were stronger in those areas?  Would better developed emotional and social skills help you in life?  Is it important enough to do something about?

As we close out 2018 and enter 2019, thank you for your readership, and the many encouraging comments and thoughts that you have shared throughout the year.  I would also like to encourage you to set some personal development goals for 2019.  Maybe one or two that, if accomplished, would help you become a higher version of yourself (you would like better who you are becoming).

Have a wonderful holiday season!

To your journey and living out the best version of you…




Of Interest: 7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence is One of the Fastest Growing Job Skills