Have you ever heard the saying “don’t let your emotions get the best of you”? We have all been in a situation where we become stressed out and let our emotions take over our decision making. The best way to understand how someone can control his/her emotions is to understand emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions” (Cherry, 2018). There are four elements to emotional intelligence, and they are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Over the past ten years I believe that emotional intelligence has grown and strengthen my communication skills. To understand how emotional intelligence has helped myself grow over the past ten years I need to break down how I use the four elements of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Self-awareness is someone who understands his/her emotions and how it may affect others around them. In 1939 President Roosevelt gave a speech to his Governing Board of Pan American Union and said “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoner of their own minds. They have within themselves the power to become free at any moment” (Change Management Coach, n.d.). This quote is a powerful one because if people let emotions take over his/her actions, then he/she are prisoners of themselves. From personal experience, self-awareness is not something that is learned and changed overnight. Ten years ago, I worked for a large national cable company handling technical support for cable television problems. I was the customer services representative at the other end of the phone people would get upset with because he/she could not watch television. At first, I would let my emotions get the best of me because customers would call in upset and mad because their cable television was not working. An example would be in a customer had a snowy screen on his/her television. The customer may be upset because this issue happens all the time or the hold time for representative was too long. If I took the customer’s words or comments personally than both the customer and I would become frustrated and the issue would not be fixed. Over time I learned not to take what the customer says, in anger or frustration, personally and would empathize with them. I had to take a step back and realize the customer does not have the training I had and understand that snowy screen is an easy fix. I also had to put myself in customer shoe’s and understand how frustrating he/she feels.
Fast forward ten years, I no longer work for the cable company, but I still must use self-awareness daily. I have learned that if things do not go as planned not to let my emotions take over and affect others around myself. I will take a step back and look at the situation and see how things can be done or changed for the next time. I still have room to grow in self-awareness but have a good start on being able to handle my emotions.
Once someone has self-awareness then he/she can work on self-management. Self-management people can handle his/her emotions and impulses. “Which means taking responsibility for your own behaviour and well-being as well as controlling emotional outbursts” (Roche Martin, n.d.). Going back to the cable company I worked for ten years ago I learned self-management was important. If I did not keep my emotions in line than it would affect others around me from customers to co-workers. When handling difficult customers, I would have to take a step back try to help the customer the best I could not get upset. I realized I had control of my emotions and actions, not the customers. Fast forward ten years I still must remind myself I am in control when asking my six-year-old to do something. Like most parents I find myself asking my child to do something repeatedly and getting upset when the task is not done. I step back and look at the situation and take control of my emotions. When my child gets upset and starts to throw a fit, I try to remain calm and not get upset. By remaining calm, I can control the situation and calm my daughter down faster.
Having social awareness is important both in the workplace and personal life. Social awareness is the ability to handle and influence other people’s emotions. “It covers a wide range of abilities, from communication and conflict management to dealing with change, meeting new people and building relationships and plays a part in almost every part of our lives, from work life to our romantic life” (Roche Martin, n.d.). When I worked for the cable company it was common for changes to happen every quarter. I had to be prepared to adapt to the changes whether I agreed with the changes or not. During these changes I remember so many of my co-workers complaining about changes. I would try to remain positive and encourage other people the change could a good thing for both customer service representative and customers. Every year everyone would have to bid on schedules and management has based on representatives call stats, attendance, and years of employment. There were many people who upset that he/she did not get the schedule they wanted and felt they should have because of how long he/she worked at the company.
Ten years even though I do not work, I still must use social awareness. I married into the military and learned quickly I need to adapt to any changes. Six years ago, I had to move across country by myself with my four-month-old daughter. Once I got to the new location I had quickly adapted to the area. A few years later I had to adapt from my husband being home every night to being gone for twenty-four hours because he had work. The biggest change will come sometime at the end of this year when he deploys for at least nine months. Even though I have been through deployments before this one will be a little different. This will be the first time my husband has deployed since the birth of our daughter. When he leaves I will quickly have to step in as both mother and father for her.
The final element of emotional intelligence is an important one. Relationship management must have clear communication and the ability to handle conflict. A person should try to connect with other people even if he/she does not care of the person. The bond will strengthen his/her relationship with others. Once he/she has a bond, he/she will understand others, how he/she treats others, and have history. The weaker the bond the harder it will be to get his/her point across (Riche, 2015). While working for the cable company I could take up to sixty to seventy calls in eight hours. I would try to form a bond with all the customers I spoke with on the phone. I would especially try to bond with people who felt no one cared about his/her issues. I remember one lady had called very upset her cable television was not working at eleven at night. I was able to calm her down by empathizing how she felt and not dismissing her concerns. After the call she felt better knowing someone cared and I had offered her my extension in case she has any other issues. The customer had called every couple of weeks and would leave a voice message. As soon as I came in I would call her back and address any issues or concerns she had. By forming a relationship with her I was able to communicate any needs or issues to her without her getting upset.
Just like I formed a bond with the customer while working, it is also important I build relationships currently. Being a military family can be hard sometimes because I can always be with my family during the holidays. During the holidays it can get lonely without family around and I have learned to adapt and have a military family. By having other friends within the military, he/she understands the lifestyle and faces the issues I may have. Last Christmas I hosted a day where other military families came over and decorated gingerbread houses and cookies. The kids had a lot of fun and it gave the adults a chance to catch up on things happening. This Thanksgiving I plan to host dinner at home for military members and families that do not have anywhere to go. By opening my home, I can form bonds with other people and give support if needed.
Over the past ten years, my emotional intelligence has improved and grown. By having self-awareness, I can identify what my emotions quickly. Understand self-management allows me to control my emotions and not have it affect other people. Social Awareness give me the ability to adapt to any challenges that come my way. Relationship management allows understanding why I need to form bonds with other people around me. By having these for elements in my daily life I can communicate better with people.