Are you concerned your company doesn’t appreciate what you bring to the table? Do you feel you’re being overlooked for promotions because you don’t handle things like your manager does? Maybe you’re trying to act a certain way because you think that’s what your manager wants, but it makes you feel like an imposter.
This is a frustrating and upsetting place to be. Being dragged down by thinking if you don’t act a certain way, you won’t get the recognition you deserve. On the flip side, if you act out of alignment with your values, character, and personality you feel bad and won’t be able to rock your unique strengths.
The good news is you don’t have to settle for either of those outcomes. I’m going to share a simple approach to honing your emotional intelligence. After all, emotional intelligence is a super power. The best part is, you can apply the self-discovery, perspective, and confidence boost to improve all areas of your life.
Let’s dive in!
Emotional Intelligence – A Game Changer
Early in my career, I worked at a small technology start-up that afforded me opportunities far above my experience level. This included managing complex projects and leading teams of people who were older and far more experienced than I was. We had an entrepreneurial culture and the owner encouraged creative problem solving and challenging the status quo. For the most part, I thrived at this company. I loved the adrenaline rush of being thrown into complex problems and working with super smart and driven professionals. However, there were a few big problems!
- I thought my team would think I was too young or inexperienced to accept me as a leader and manager
- I was afraid that someone was going to find out that I didn’t have it all figured out
- I was exhausted by public speaking
- I broke out into cold sweats at the thought of networking – why would anyone want to talk to me?
At the time, I thought that meant I wasn’t cut out to be a leader. That I was destined to be on the sidelines helping someone else shine. This thought was very depressing because in my heart I knew I was meant for something much greater.
Thankfully, I worked for an amazing leader that knew the transformational power of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. He connected me with a great Coach that helped me discover, embrace, and gain the confidence to speak my truth while at the same time teaching me how to build more effective relationships. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was honing my emotional intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence – Step 1: Self-Awareness
First things first, you need to understand your values, innate tendencies, and personality traits. This includes figuring out:
- where you get your energy from
- how you process information
- how you make decisions
- your attitude towards the external world
With this understanding you will be able to approach your life, relationships, and situations in a much more effective and planful way. Self-awareness is also something that most managers look for when determining if someone is ready for a promotion. Self-awareness is a game changer!
Following are a few ways you can develop greater self-awareness.
Take a personality assessment
Personality assessments are a quick, easy, and fun way to gain insight on yourself. There are several great personality assessments out there. Some are free and you can do them on your own. Some are more in depth and require that you work with a certified administrator to help you get the most out of your results. With a little Internet research you can find one that resonates with you.
Here are a couple links to get you started.
- The 11 Best Personality Tests to Help You Discover Yourself
- 14 Free Personality Tests That’ll Help You Figure Yourself Out
Tip! There are two areas of self-awareness that I’ve found most helpful in growing my career and building relationships. These areas are:
- Where you are on the Introvert-Extrovert spectrum – this is key because it gives you insight into how you get your energy, how to recharge, how you process information, and much more. For example, I used to think there was something wrong with me because I would feel totally drained and fuzzy headed after a presentation or large meeting. Then I learned I was an introvert and what that meant. It was a total aha moment for me. I learned I could still be an amazing public speaker, effective networker, and actually have fun at parties. I simply had to learn how to prepare myself for these events, know my limits, and how to recharge afterwards.
- Whether you are a Thinker or Feeler – this will help you understand how you make decisions and what you value. It’s important for you to learn the differences between thinkers and feelers and how to tell if someone else is a thinker or a feeler. The world needs both thinkers and feelers. Both lead, manage, and excel equally well. You just need to recognize there is a difference and tailor your message accordingly. For example, if you are a feeler, and your boss is a thinker, you’ll want to communicate to your boss using words that will resonate with a thinker. If you don’t tailor your message, you’ll run the risk of your thinker boss dismissing your approach or idea as too emotional or mushy. Listen for phrases like, “I think…” or “I feel…”. These are common ways to quickly identify whether someone is a thinker or feeler.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Meditation and yoga are wonderful and accessible options. You can also focus on really paying attention to your mind, body, and emotions throughout the day. Notice when you feel good and at the top of your game. Also, notice when you feel bad, anxious, or stressed. Observe without judgement. Make a note of the situations, topics, people, or places that make you feel good or bad. Reflect on this information to notice patterns and make connections to deepen your self-awareness.
Ask for feedback
Taking the initiative to ask your manager, peers, direct reports, and clients for feedback is powerful. You can ask for feedback at any time. In fact, asking for feedback outside of a regular review cycle, after a big project, after a challenge or setback shows that you really care about what you’re doing. Most people will be flattered that you want their input and this often leads to stronger relationships.
When asking for feedback, take the opportunity to have a discussion. For example, let’s say your manager provides you with the feedback that you need to speak up more at meetings. As a very self-aware human, you know that you are an introvert who likes to listen well and have more time to internally process information before responding. Take the opportunity to let your manager know this about you. While your manager may still want you to speak up more, they will appreciate your courage in sharing the information and the two of you can come up with a go forward plan that works for you both.
Word of caution – when sharing a counter point to feedback you’re receiving, make sure you are grounding yourself in self-awareness and not just making excuses for yourself.
Emotional Intelligence – Step 2: Self-Management
Self-management, which may be referred to as “self-control” or “self-regulation,” is the ability to take responsibility for your own behavior and well-being. This includes being able to regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations.
You can also think of self-management as personal leadership. Think about the great leaders you know and how they conduct themselves and show up in their life. After all, why would someone else be inspired to follow you if you wouldn’t follow yourself.
To be great at self-management, you’ll want to focus on effectively:
- treating yourself with love and compassion
- motivating yourself
- setting and working towards goals
- holding yourself accountable
- managing stress
- accepting responsibility for your behaviors, thoughts, and actions
To learn more about improving your self-management skills, check out 12 Rules for Self Management by Rosa Say.
Being an effective self-manager is critical to career success. It materializes in how you show up and how well you inspire trust and confidence from everyone who comes in contact with you.
Emotional Intelligence – Step 3: Social Awareness and Relationship Management
Having empathy is the key to social awareness and relationship management. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
You’ve likely realized that having the right relationships is a key component to building a successful career. You’ll need to build strong and trusted relationships with a wide variety of people, including your manager, direct reports, senior executives, clients, peers, industry experts, and more. These relationships are necessary for building high performing teams, solving complex problems, affecting change, growing your business, and moving up the career ladder.
Relationships can be complex. This is especially true of professional relationships where people may have an agenda, act a certain way because they think they have to, lack trust in you or others, or may simply be jockeying for position.
By using empathy, deep listening, and being real, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships that can be leveraged for mutual success. You’ll also be able to use these skills to see through any BS so that you can understand underlying motivations, negotiate, build buy-in, and create mutually beneficial partnerships.
To learn more about empathy, check out this article by Andrew Sobel called Eight Ways to Improve Your Empathy.
Emotional Intelligence – Step 4: Confidence Through Practice
Now that you’ve invested in developing your self-awareness and empathy, the best way to gain confidence is through practice. This means put yourself out there in meaningful ways:
- Have candid discussions with your manager about your ideas, what you have to offer, your career goals, and promotion aspirations – ask for their help in developing a plan to achieve them.
- Keep asking for feedback in all areas of your life, be open to receiving it, and incorporate what resonates with you.
- Approach your career with a beginner’s mind – an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.
- Speak your truth and share your opinion. Your company hired you because you bring value to the team. They want to hear your ideas, input, and solutions.
Emotional Intelligence – Step 4: Get Support
Your career is a journey, not a destination. Having the support of a great mentor or coach can help maximize your success along the way. Many large organizations have formal mentorship programs. If your company doesn’t, you may want to reach out to someone you respect and ask them if they are open to mentoring you.
If you want serious focus and results, hiring a professional Coach may be your best option. If you’re not sure if you can afford a coach on your own, check out your company’s training and/or benefits policy as many include working with professional coaches. A great Coach will:
- guide you on a journey of self-discovery
- empower you to create the amazing life you are meant to live
- keep things real and hold you accountable to your goals
- be one of your biggest cheerleaders
- support you throughout your journey
Emotional Intelligence – Final Thoughts
I hope this post provided you with actionable insights to find greater career success and live your best life. Practicing emotional intelligence is truly one of the best gifts you can give yourself – and those around you!
If you’re interested in learning more about how a coach can help you create your best life, contact me today to schedule your free no obligation consultation. I would be honored to support you on your journey. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know someone that could benefit from the information in this post, please share the word. It’s much appreciated!
I would also love to hear how emotional intelligence has changed your life and answer any questions you may have. Please leave a comment below!