March 14, 2019 / Larry Sloan and Stacey Croghan

Elements of Emotional Intelligence

Last fall, SynergistNOW published a brief blogintroducing you to Emotional Intelligence (EI). To recap, EI is the ability to recognize and know your own emotions (self-awareness); manage these emotions and motivate/train yourself to respond in a more positive manner (self-management); understand the emotions in others (reading emotions/empathy); and handle relationships in a more positive manner (relationship building). Since then we've heard from many members wanting to learn more. So, we are pleased to announce that we will team up to present a webinar on the topic on April 25.

To pique your interest, we thought we’d give you a preview of one of the areas we will discuss related to improving your EI. If you want to improve your EI, you need to work on your communication—both inward and outward. Communication isn’t just from person to person. We communicate to ourselves as well.

Let’s explore the first two elements of EI: self-awareness and self-management. These require you to become comfortable and proficient at recognizing your body’s internal communications to itself. Our mind and body communicate a myriad of internal messages daily. These may be through various channels, such as:

Emotions. Arising from your subconscious, emotions include happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, and anger, among others. These emotions are felt internally, and, if strong enough, are outwardly communicated through gestures such as smiling, laughing, crying, and yelling.

Physiological responses. This is your body’s autonomic response to stressors—both good and bad. An individual may experience perspiration, racing heart/palpitations, and muscle tightness. When the stress is negative, over time a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) may result in hives, stress acne, or eventually, hardening of the arteries.

Inner voice. Part of your conscious mind, this is the voice inside your head that you constantly converse with to work through solutions, make decisions, and judge outcomes of situations. You use it to assess your emotions and physiological responses (subconscious and autonomic). You must be careful, because your inner voice can be very negative and even turn against you, which can affect your mindset, your mood, and your outward communication.

Learning to recognize these internal communications, and the situations that cause them, will allow you to process the communications more logically, resulting in more appropriate inward responses and outward communications.

For example, we're sure you’ve been in the situation where you are bumping up against a major deadline and it’s taking all your effort to focus and push through to meet the deadline. You’re anxious, stressed, and worried you won’t make it when an employee comes to you to with another issue. You snap, taking your frustration out on the employee, alienating him and losing your focus. Good self-awareness would have helped you recognize the fact that your situation was causing mounting stress. Good self-management would have helped you release that stress in a more productive way and interact with the employee in a more appropriate manner. You would have been able to direct the employee to someone else for assistance and maintainedyour focus on the task at hand, ultimately meeting the deadline.

Do you want to learn more? We encourage you to register for the upcoming webinar, “Introduction to Emotional Intelligence.” During our talk, we'll delve deeper into why your brain reacts the way it does (hint: it’s not your fault; we’re hardwired to react a certain way), discuss external communications that govern social awareness and relationship management, and give you some useful tips on how to change the way you handle negative, stressful stimuli. See you online!

Larry Sloan and Stacey Croghan

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


Stacey Croghan is one of the founding members of the Women in IH Working Group.

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