training leader


There is a piece of jargon within the professional development world that we use frequently here at VM Learning. It’s called ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EI). It’s up there with such legendary organisational icons as Total Quality Management, Transformational Leadership, Management by Objectives (MBO) and reengineering. In fact EI has gathered so much momentum over the years that it’s worth knowing about, as many organisations now consider it to be an essential component of  leadership.

Essentially EI is an umbrella term coined by David Goleman in his ground-breaking work of the same name. It encompasses many tried and proven ways of improving human relations. It’s revolutionary because EI’s structure provides a simple, natural understanding of complex human issues. It also provides a pathway to skills that can enhance the way you live, love, play and work with other people. A key aspect of Emotional Intelligence is the ability to handle our emotions, especially within a workplace setting. This can be easier said than done….

Whether you love your job or not, it is easy to get bothered in the workplace.  Frustrations with technology, a meeting running over time or too many distractions; sometimes no matter how hard you try to stay focused your emotions start to build.  And when tension rises in any environment, it is difficult to maintain a positive and productive attitude.  But emotions are simply a part of the human condition, both the good and bad, and while you may be extraordinary at managing your job role, you might not be so good at managing yourself emotionally.

Most people like to think of themselves as rational, but think back on the last time you were truly overwhelmed by your emotions.  Perhaps you acted in a way that, in a calmer state, you would not have done.  Or maybe said something that, in other circumstances, you wouldn’t have dreamt of saying.  Everyone has their moments, but no one likes the colleague who rants and raves at the slow computer or the jammed printer, or worse, at another colleague.  And I can’t imagine anyone wanting to BE that ranting, raving colleague.

So how can you be the calm, confident colleague who can handle whatever their work environment throws at them?  By developing your emotional intelligence.  One of the key components of emotional intelligence is understanding yourself, your emotions and your behaviours.  As much as we’d like to be content and positive beings, once in a while it’s okay to feel down or overwhelmed.  To be emotionally intelligent you must be aware of both these sides of yourself, and all the in betweens.  Self-awareness will not only benefit you in realizing how your emotions affect the way you think and act, but how they affect those around you.  While being aware of your emotions is an important part of self-management, you must also be able to manage them!

The expression of “bottling up your emotions” is all too common, and does not serve you well in your professional or personal endeavours.  Taking a break from the situation is of course the first desire, but isn’t always an option.  Meetings just aren’t going to run themselves!  Simply by asking yourself the question “Why is this situation making me feel frustrated?” can help to relieve some of the tension you are feeling and allow you to become more aware of what is happening around you and why you have chosen to react this way.  Something as easy as a few deep breaths may help to slow down your thinking and help you achieve a calmer state.  And if you can’t get out of the environment causing you stress, maybe it’s time to read that report that’s been waiting for you on your desk, or reading some of those emails that just never seem to end, to productively distract yourself from your current frustration.

By acknowledging your emotional state, you are on your way to addressing it and finding a way in which that emotional energy can be used towards something productive.  This will not only enhance your experience at work and with colleagues, but can easily benefit your personal life to make a happier, healthier you!

Remember, emotions are a call to action.  In life we need to harness the productive emotions that give us energy and excitement and be mindful of those that sap energy and can be harmful.  The exciting thing is when we learn more about ourselves, we can choose.