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Five Ways to Develop your Emotional Intelligence

HELLO fellow pharmacists and welcome to the twelth and last article for 2018 in the 5W2 series, Five Ways to Develop your Emotional Intelligence.

In January 2018 I created this 5W2 series to share tried and tested strategies and techniques to support emotional development within our professional roles. Previous articles are as follows:

Introduction to the “5W2” series

Five Ways to Manage Stress

Five Ways to Use Mindfulness

Five Ways to Self Coach

Five Ways to Maintain your Energy Levels

Five Ways to be more Resilient

Five Ways to Deal with Bullying

Five Ways to Manage your State of Mind

Five Ways to Enhance your Communication

Five Ways to Create Successful Outcomes

Five Ways to be more Confident

If anyone would like to read any of the above articles please click on the following which will take you to the articles page on my website

The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is often described as the ability to relate to and interact with others and has been around since the 1960’s but it gained popularity when Daniel Goleman an American psychologist wrote his book “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995.

In his book, Golman describes EI as having a balance between self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. EI is highly desirable when working with people and can be a natural characteristic of some individuals. The good news is EI can be developed, so here are 5 simple strategies to help you develop your EI and improve the quality of future interactions.

Temper TamingThe Personal TouchCreating Win/WinsDealing with DisappointmentValuing VulnerabilityTemper Taming

I know we may not like to admit it, but think of a time when you have let your temper get the better of you or you have showed frustration in your professional environment.

What was the trigger?How did you react?What was the outcome?

According to Daniel Golman, people with high EI have high self awareness and see the importance of self regulation. So to develop your EI in emotionally charged situations and tame potential future tempers, ask yourself the following three questions:

What was my motivation for reacting like that? Who do I need to share this information with?What do I need to do to make amends?

These three simple questions will help to bring you back to being in control of your emotions and allow you to deal with future situations in a more pragmatic way.

The Personal Touch

One way to develop your EI at work is to stop and reflect on how good you are at empathising with others.

The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy” Meryl Streep

The easiest way to flex and build your “empathy muscle” is look at how much you know your colleagues as a person and how much understanding you show them. Here are two suggestions to help build your “empathy muscle” and develop your EI.

Make it your business to know stuff about them and what’s important to them.

It could be as simple as keeping a note of birthdays, their kids or pets names. It might be remembering that they were going to a concert at the weekend and mentioning it the next week. For some people this is just second nature but to others it is something they need to make a conscious effort to do or make a note of to remind them. Either way you are flexing your empathy muscle, which helps build rapport and therefore relationships. Get behind the behaviour. If a colleague is irritable or just a bit “off “, instead of being frustrated by their behaviours, stop and ask the question “What could be their motivation for behaving like this?” Coming up with a list of potential reasons may help you show them more understanding to allow you to support them as a fellow human being who is experiencing some challenges.

Create Wins/Wins

Individuals with EI will tend to look at situations from more than just their own perspective. The following four box model can help you reflect on interactions with others. When it comes to a potential conflict situation, those with EI will always aim to be in BOX 4 (where they are ASSERTIVE but consider their own and others’ needs equally for a WIN/WIN outcome).

“Let’s clarify what’s ideal for both of us”“What would need to happen for both of us to be happy?”“What outcomes would be satisfactory to both of us?”

So keeping an assertive WIN/WIN mentality as part of your daily professional practice will help you develop your EI.

Dealing with Disappointment

When you have been dealt a disappointment in the past such as failing something or not achieving something you went for, how long do you spend being disappointed? Do you accept it, learn from it and move on or do you pack it away in your metaphorical rucksack, lug it around and bring it out every so often to share with others?

One of the many lessons in Daniel Golmans book is –

Don’t ruminate when you are sad, distract yourself instead”

He has four simple suggestions to distract you:

Exercise – as well as distracting you it produces an endorphin boost.Complete small tasks – a sense of achievement can help shift your mood.Re- frame the situation – ask yourself what can you learn from this disappointment to help you move forward?Help others – a focus on doing something for others will not only distract but help you feel good about you too.

Valuing Vulnerability

Over the last few years I feel our profession has got better at being open when things go wrong and creating a culture of continuous quality improvement. We readily record and review “Near Misses”, discuss contributory factors and agree next steps to prevent the same thing happening again.

If only we could take the same approach with ourselves and admit when we are struggling, have got things wrong and don't know the answer. I have coached many senior people in organisations that feel they have “Imposter syndrome”, they shouldn't be in the job they are in and hold back from being honest with their teams in case they are perceived as weak.

I have helped each of those clients be honest with themselves and supported them to have the courage to share their vulnerability with others and in EVERY situation they have felt so much better about themselves and relationships have improved. Some of the questions that I have asked them are:

What is holding you back from being honest?

What would need to happen for you to be truly honest with your colleagues?

What will happen if you are not honest with your team?

What do you need to help you to share openly what you are feeling?

In her fascinating TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability” Brene Brown a Research Professor in Houston describes how being open and sharing your vulnerabilities isn’t always comfortable but clearly demonstrates courage.

Brene’s TED talk may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there are some great messages around having the courage to be imperfect and the compassion to be kind to yourself. Click on the link and see what you think.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article and good luck in developing your Emotional Intelligence.

That’s it for the Five Ways to Series for 2018. Thanks for all the feedback and I look forward to sharing future plans for the series in 2019. In the meantime, if anyone wants to find out more about anything in this article or has any comments please get in touch via the details below.


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