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In the Moment and Strategic

It’s no secret that we’re big champions of growing your emotional intelligence. Earlier this year, we announced that we would be breaking down the four components of emotional intelligence to help you put your EI to work for you. The bottom line is that putting concerted effort into using and growing your emotional intelligence will make you a better, more thoughtful individual contributor, partner, friend, team member, and leader. 

Emotional intelligence starts with you — specifically, your awareness of yourself — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Being aware of yourself, your thoughts, your communication and working preferences and habits, and, yes, your feelings, is critical when it comes to navigating and managing those thoughts and feelings instead of allowing them to control you, or resulting in you projecting your emotions and thoughts onto others in unhelpful and unproductive ways. It can also help you be strategic and make the most out of your day by channeling your energy to get things done in the right direction! Keep reading for two different ways you can apply self-awareness to grow your EI.


Self-Awareness In the Moment

Have you ever heard that a bad day for you doesn’t have to be a bad day for everyone? Well the first part of stopping the spread means recognizing when you’re having a bad day, acknowledging it, and finally finding out where it’s coming from or at least mitigating your wake so you are not causing a bad day for those around you. In other words, be aware of the fact that you want kick the dog (not kicking the dog is self management and we’ll get to that next). 

So, picture this: you’re having a bad day. Maybe you spilled your smoothie on the way to work, maybe your coffee order got messed up in the drive-thru, maybe a project isn’t going the way you want it to or you are behind on your to do list. Unfortunately there are a zillion reasons why you might just be having a bad day, and sometimes they sneak up on each other and team up against you. Whatever it is, take a moment to stop and take stock of your present. Call it mindfulness, reflection, thought-gathering – whatever you want. Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What am I feeling right now?

Be specific! “Bad” is not a feeling (and, for that matter, neither is “good”). Having a tough time with your adjectives? We love a feelings wheel. Sometimes naming your feelings is HARD, and it takes practice – we like this one because you can start with six basic emotions and branch out to over 70 more specific feelings.

PAUSE. Acknowledge your emotion. It is valid. It is not wrong. It is not a value judgement. It’s just a feeling. With that said, feelings aren’t facts, so now you’re ready to dig a little more... 

  1. What’s causing your feeling? 

Is it something that happened at work or at home? Is it something that was said? Is it the task at hand? Is it a change or task on the horizon? Putting a name to our emotion and identifying the source can take away a lot of the power that emotion has over us. Sometimes simply recognizing that you’re frustrated and why you’re frustrated helps you feel more in control so you can tackle the root issue. We’ve all heard the phrase “drop your emotions at the door.” While some people are really good at compartmentalizing, for a lot of us, that’s way easier said than done. And if you can’t drop them, you can at least make a space to keep them so they don’t dump all over your day.

Giving yourself that time and space to cognitively process and assess your emotions is so critical when it comes to managing them instead of allowing them to manage you. It could be the difference between you snapping needlessly at the next person who steps into your office or having a mental breakdown because you can’t get a full paper towel out of the dang dispenser without tearing off just a third and you pausing, centering yourself, and using those self-management skills we’ll introduce next month to keep your head above water even when you’re seeing red or blue or orange or any color that means you’re not at your best.


Strategic Self-Awareness

Emotional intelligence and self awareness isn’t always in-the-moment, and it doesn’t always have to be about triaging your emotions. Emotional intelligence and self-awareness can also help you understand how and when you work best so you can do more of your best work! Understanding some pretty basic things about yourself will make your good days even better by allowing you to make the most of your minutes. Being aware of and in tune with your likes and dislikes, your optimal working times and environments, your communication needs and preferences, your appetite for change, how you digest and process information, people who can help you and people who tend to distract you empowers you to be proactive to make our own days better, more productive, and less stressful.

Here are some things to think about and identify about you and your working style – take a few minutes and download and complete this form so you can come back to them next month when we get to Self-Management! Once you’re done, take another look at it. This may all be information you’ve known about yourself, but have you ever actually really thought about it, let alone used it? Think about a task or day or project that’s going really well. I’m guessing you’ll find a lot of the tasks you completed aligned with your own personal preferences.

“This was a great day because I got to be collaborative and creative with my team to brainstorm new functionalities or features and we met in the morning and there was coffee and I’m a morning person who likes people!”


“This was a really difficult task for me because there was a lot of data and statistics written out so it was challenging for me to interpret because I’m a visual thinker!”

Having that basic understanding of the kinds of things that align with your interest, skills, and working style is key to finding out how to make the good days or tasks great, or the icky ones a little better.  


Whether it’s in the moment or more strategic, use this next month to become more in tune with yourself and practice self-awareness! If this is a newer concept to you, spend some time becoming more explicitly familiar with your own preferences! You’ll learn a lot, and we’ll use it next month when we get to self-management. 



Topics: YP, Communication & Collaboration

Anna Lehocz

About the Author

Anna Lehocz

Anna Lehocz is a Your Clear Next Step writer and communications specialist working part time while following her passion of teaching young students.

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