People are generally more reactive than proactive which often can be a good thing. For instance, avoiding an accident while driving with quick reflexes, or your reflexes when a spider lands on you. (I know I personally move like Bruce Lee when one gets on me)
However, there are times when you allow emotions to govern your actions. For instance, think about how you react when you get a difficult email, an unfair assumption, or the moment when you get blamed for an issue at work that you don’t agree with.
A little reflection in these situations can help us to increase our emotional intelligence.
To define, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and use the power of emotions to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity. It is the foundational competency every leader needs to grow. Emotional intelligence, in essence, is the ability to effectively manage emotions. Emotions precede actions. When you are happy, you smile. It is not the other way around. Emotional intelligence is what drives our actions. This can be learned or trained, and if you work at it, you can have an outstanding outcome.
One tip to increasing your emotional intelligence is known as “the pause.”
If you take a bit of time to just pause, like a few seconds, you will handle situations differently.
Your reactions will adjust because you take a few moments to simply pause and reflect. This will take some work because we are programmed to react quickly.
Added stress or irritations can govern our behaviors & ability to think clearly. The pause will help correct the over exaggerated reactions that often ensue.
Pausing is a good habit to practice and master. You’ll see that success will follow when difficult situations need to be handled.
How to use the pause for the win
The pause will work best if you take a moment to stop and genuinely think before you speak. While this doesn’t sound hard, you’ll want to be sure that you give it some practice. It won’t be second nature for most people.
Ways to pause
Try to do the following in order to utilize the “art of the pause” skillfully:
- Go for a walk
- Take a few deep breaths
- Resist the desire to act out rudely
- Stop and reflect
- Give yourself some space between the situation, even if it’s an email
Nothing about this is self-centered. It is actually good for you and those around you. The benefits will be seen in your decision making both personally and professionally.
After you have used the pause, take some time for reflection. Ask yourself some questions such as:
- Why would I have felt that way?
- What is the purpose of that type of attitude?
- How can I handle things better in the future?
Now write it down.
When you have a successful pause for a situation, take some time to write it down. This will help make the pause a habit.
The pause is a wonderful way to increase your emotional intelligence and stand out in the workplace as one that is proactive rather than reactive.
Written for us by our associate Gary Sorrell, Sorrell Associates, LLC.
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