Developing Emotional Intelligence – Navigating Your Emotions

Audra Lamoon and Scott Sheppard joined the conference from the United Kingdom to discuss emotional intelligence.

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Sheppard has worked in customer service, the airline industry, and the cruise industry, and the hotel industry. He says he’s traveled to five dozen different countries through his work in the travel industry, learning about how different cultures and communities experience things differently. 

“Recently it dawned on me that everyone was saying, you’ve got to say please, say
thank you – the niceties of customer service, but no one ever really spoke about how
our emotions affect our feelings, how our emotions affect our day-to-day lives. What
goes on in our mind isn’t always exposed on your face,” said Sheppard.

He says even things like the weather can impact your mood. If the weather is bad, create
the weather in your mind! Imagine somewhere with beautiful weather and tell yourself
you’ll be there one day.

Sheppard started reading books by the researcher and publisher Daniel Goleman, who
writes about emotional and social intelligence. He combined what he learned with his own
experience to create training materials to help people navigate their own feelings and deal
with personal relationships.

“I always try to explain to people, can you remember the first time you had an emotion or the first time you had a feeling? A lot of people will say around the age of 5 or 6. Who shows us those emotions? The most influential people in our lives show us the way – and that’s our parents, our friends, our siblings, our teachers. We always think at that particular time, from the age of 5, up to adolescence, up to now, we think when we do things, it’s the right thing because we were shown by our parents, siblings, teachers, that that was the right way. But sometimes it’s not, sometimes we have to change our outlook, and we have to regress back to those times for emotional healing. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, we do the same thing again and again and we make the same mistakes again and again. But people need to understand, emotional intelligence, we’ve all got that.”

Sheppard said it’s important to check in with yourself and analyze how you’re feeling and how your emotions might impact the rest of your day. Sometimes you have to differentiate between emotions and feelings and think about how to manage both.

“On average, an adult will go through and feel 22,000 different types of feelings,” said Sheppard. “What we need to understand is where that emotion stems from.”

So what is an emotion and what is a feeling? Sheppard brings up something called the Wheel of Emotion.

In the center are seven key emotions: Happy, Surprised, Bad, Fearful, Angry, Disgusted, and Sad.

Looking at the Happy category for instance, you might feel trusting, optimistic, peaceful, playful, or accepted. What leads to those feelings could be that you’re feeling valued, thankful, or courageous. The emotion associated with those feelings is happiness. Under the Angry category, the middle ring of the wheel lists things like let down, humiliated, mad, or frustrated. In the outermost ring, you’ll find things like betrayed, disrespected, jealous, annoyed, and withdrawn.

Realizing what feeling is leading to your emotions, and what happened in the first place to make you feel that way, can help you overcome what you’re experiencing.

Sheppard suggests keeping a journal where you write the things making you feel positive on the front, and all the negative things on the back. Then, glue the back page down so you don’t dig it back up. Instead, focus on the good things. Sheppard says doing that is proven to help people sleep better and reduce stress. Meditation can also help.

From a young age, children are educated by their own emotions with the videos and movies they watch. For instance, the Pixar movie “Inside Out” breaks emotions down and shows people how your memories can evoke certain feelings. Even sad movies like Bambi make kids reflect on their own emotions.

Often, people who are very intelligent and have a high IQ have comparatively low emotional intelligence. Sheppard says the good news is, you can improve upon that.

Emotional intelligence is abbreviated “EI” or “EQ” for emotional quotient.

“It is regarded as more important than IQ – than intelligence quotient in attaining success in people’s lives, in your careers, and as individuals,” said Sheppard. “Our success of our professions today – especially since COVID – depend on our ability to be able to read people’s signals – this is what it’s about, and how you react to them appropriately.” 

There are ways to strengthen EQ. You can reduce negative emotions by stepping back and appreciating someone else’s point of view; stay cool and manage stress by reflecting on how you can handle something; be assertive and express your emotions when it’s necessary, even if doing that is difficult; stay proactive rather than reactive when dealing with a person you find challenging; bounce back from adversity by being totally honest about where you failed and try to figure out what you could do better; and express your intimate emotions in your close, personal relationships.

Audra Lamoon, the Chief Happiness Officer with Livewire Performance Consultants, says she got involved with multifamily by happenstance. She was working with retail and hotels, and while working with a developer in Atlanta, she made connections that brought her into the multifamily industry.

Lamoon and Sheppard have a presentation on emotional intelligence. 

Sheppard says there are five elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation, and social skills. 

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize an emotion in yourself. It’s the key to emotional intelligence. That includes recognizing your own emotions and understanding how they might affect other people.

“If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them,” said Sheppard. 

Sheppard recommends talking to yourself about your emotions aloud. Doing that out loud gives you the chance to hear yourself.

“You don’t always wake up in the best of moods,” said Sheppard. “But if you’re aware of it, you can start to alleviate some of these problems that might’ve gotten you to that feeling in the first place.”

Next comes empathy. Sheppard says some people confuse this with sympathy, but the two are not the same.

“The more skillful you are at discerning the feeling behind other people’s signals, the better you can control the signals that you sent out.”

Lamoon asks the audience or reader to reflect on whether you really know the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Brené Brown, a researcher professor who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy has her own definition for those terms. Lamoon plays a video of that distinction:

“Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection,” says Brown in the video. She breaks down empathy into four qualities: the ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective is their truth; staying out of judgement; recognizing emotion in other people, and then communicate that. 

“Empathy is feeling with people,” Brown says. “Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with, ‘At least.’”

She explains, you don’t always have to find the silver lining in things or try to make things better.

Brown gives examples like, if someone tells you they had a miscarriage, the appropriate response is not, “At least you know you can get pregnant.” Or if someone says, “One of my kids just got kicked out of school,” you shouldn’t respond, “At least your other kid is an A student.”

The response you give will almost never make someone truly better. What will help is the connection you form. It’s okay to simply tell someone that you don’t know what to say. Just be there for people without trying to fix things.

“I think the dictatorial, autocratic leadership is going, going gone,” said Lamoon. “And I hope to God that these generations – these new generations rising through the ranks are going to understand empathy more than any other generation.” 

Sheppard says schools in the UK are starting to incorporate emotional intelligence into their curriculum.

Lamoon shows a quote on screen attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

The next key to emotional intelligence is to motivate yourself to have a positive attitude. You need motivators other than just money. Yes, money is important, but you need other targets. Not just the targets your boss gives you, but your own smart targets for yourself.

Self-Regulation, the next tool to EQ, is when you have a little control over something.

“I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where people are pushing our buttons and keep pushing and pushing, because they want a reaction from us. Sometimes, we break. Sometimes we crumble, we let into that. Signs of bullying, signs of people being a pushover come in. But if you can understand what that is, and how to deal with it, when to say the right thing, when to walk off is key to this self-regulation,” said Sheppard.

This, like the other steps in this process, requires conscientious thinking.

Sheppard says it’s important to reflect on your conscious and subconscious mind. Sheppard says we only use about 5% of our conscious mind each day. The subconscious mind deals with the constant autopilot we put ourselves in every day. The subconscious doesn’t evaluate thoughts, memories, and feelings. The capacity for memories in your subconscious is virtually unlimited, but you have to bring those memories back up to your consciousness.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?

“Imagine you’re going on your first date with this person,” said Sheppard. “How long would it have taken you to get ready instead of normal?” Lamoon answers it would have taken her twice or three times as long because she’d want to look good. That’s a conscious effort you make, hoping to impress. You might be more conscious about how you ate or how you acted – things that are normally subconscious/autopilot acts. Eventually, as you’re with that person longer, you fall back into autopilot.

“Don’t keep pressing play,” said Sheppard.

Sheppard says there are tools you can use to control how long an emotion lasts.

Mull over how you’re feeling. Use that emotion to facilitate cognitive process and consider whether the situation might have a different explanation than you originally thought. Understand how your emotions are linked to your relationships and consider what you’d like to do about those feelings. Then manage those emotions to promote personal growth by using your self-awareness of the situation to help cope. 

Lamoon shows a December 2017 tweet from Elon Musk where he says, “Wanted again to send a note of deep gratitude to Tesla owners WW for taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail. So much blood, sweat & tears from the Tesla team went into creating cars that you’d truly love. I hope you do. How can we improve further?”

Lamoon says, regardless of whether you personally like Elon Musk or not, he has a high level of EQ. Lamoon says he’s shown that with his employees multiple times, for instance meeting personally with anyone who was injured while working for his company.

Another good example is the CEO of Pepsi, who went back to India to visit her family and lots of people came to see “her.” But everyone who visited didn’t talk to her; instead, they went to her parents and congratulated them for raising such a successful child. She took that idea and rolled with it, writing to her employees’ parents to tell them that they should be proud.

Sheppard says that once you make a difference in yourself, people will see that change in you.

Finally, the last portion of your EQ: recognize that your social skills matter. You may have lost some of those during the pandemic, since you haven’t been exercising those interpersonal muscles. But your people skills are paramount to success in your personal life.

Acknowledge how other people are feeling. Differentiate feelings from emotions. Accept and appreciate those emotions, then reflect on them and consider how to handle them. 

Also, try to accept and handle other people’s emotions.

Patrick Antrim, the CEO of Multifamily Leadership, asks about how to “press stop” on the autopilot we live in.

Sheppard says it’s hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone, but doing so can be a good thing because it gives you a reality check. You’ll think differently. You might react differently to the same situation depending on whether you’re in or out of your comfort zone. Lamoon says changing tiny things are a good way to do that. Tiny, incremental changes are best. She gives examples like having tea instead of coffee, or reaching out to different people than the ones you talk to every day.

Sheppard says getting feedback from all parties in a group can be beneficial. He calls this 360 feedback. It helps you to learn what motivates people as well as yourself.

Lamoon recommends writing up a list of favorites and keeping it at work. That way, if you’re having a bad day and a coworker notices, they can look at your list of favorites and go get something to surprise you with to lift your spirits.

List of Audra & Scott’s Book Recommendations:

– The Chimp Paradox – Professor Steve Peters

– Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman

– Working with Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman

– Primal Leadership – Daniel Goleman – Dare to lead – Brene Brown

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