After a decade of research that involved more than 500,000 test subjects, the findings are clear: Most people lack an understanding of how their emotions affect their decisions and their ability to lead.
Researchers have found that only 36% of the test group could accurately name their emotions in real time. The results indicate that nearly two-thirds of us lack the awareness to spot our emotions and harness them to our advantage.
By linking an emotion to its trigger or set of triggers, we gain more command over how we respond.
If you berate an employee, for example, ask yourself why your temper flared. What emotions drove you to get upset? How did they arise?
“When something generates a prolonged emotional reaction in you, it’s called a ‘trigger event,’” says Travis Bradberry, head of TalentSmart, a California firm that provides tools to measure emotional intelligence. “Your reactions to your triggers are shaped by your experience with similar situations.”
You can raise your awareness by observing how certain characters behave in popular films. In “The Descendants,” for example, key characters find that their emotions clash with their attempts to apply rational behavior.
Breathing exercises can help. Because your brain requires one-fifth of your body’s total oxygen supply, it’s important to avoid shallow breaths that deprive your brain—and the rest of your body—of the full amount of oxygen it needs to manage your moods.
In stressful moments, take deep breaths through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth. With practice, you can regulate your breathing more effectively without others noticing.
— Adapted from Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, TalentSmart.