Emotional Intelligence can make the difference between having a successful career in IT and struggling in your career. Successfully managing emotions can also make the difference between having successful personal relationships and struggling in relationships. One of the four domains of Emotional Intelligence is Self-Awareness. Here are keys to recognizing emotions in yourself:

  • Check your emotional gauges. Just like network management software monitors network conditions, you can monitor your emotional conditions by asking yourself questions such as “How am I feeling right now?” or you could be more specific and ask yourself “What emotion am I feeling right now?” Consider keeping a notebook in which you write down the activities that are taking place in your life and the emotions you feel as a result of those activities. This can help as you later pause and reflect.
  • Go deeper. If your answer is vague such as, “Fine.” or “Okay.”, go deeper and ask yourself, “What specific emotions am I feeling right now?” Just like Windows Task Manager’s initial display shows overall performance, you can also go deeper with it to discover which applications and threads are running under the surface. Often, when we ask more probing questions of ourselves, we discover that we’re experiencing multiple emotions, which could have multiple responses. We may not be aware of all the emotions we’re feeling, so some of our behaviors may not make sense to us until we identify more specifically what we’re feeling.
  • Identify the activators. Take an inventory of your day-to-day life and look at what might be causing your emotions. How are your personal relationships (spouse/partner, children, friends, neighbors)? How are your finances? What about your health or the health of important people in your life? How’s your professional life? Are you feeling satisfied and fulfilled in your work? How about your professional relationships with your boss, your co-workers, or employees?
  • Recognize emotions as soon as they materialize. Express them assertively, but not aggressively. The difference is this. When you express them assertively, you stick to the issues. When you express them aggressively, you might attack another person’s personality or character.
  • Ask yourself throughout the day, “How am I feeling right now?” Use your notebook to reflect on how you were feeling at various points during your life. You can think about how your emotions were affected by external events and how you were managing emotions.
  • Take ownership of your emotions. Certainly, other people and external events can influence our emotions. Emotionally intelligent people recognize that they are ultimately responsible for how they feel. If you’ve ever said words such as, “You make me so angry!” or “You make me so happy!”, you have given that person tremendous power over your emotions. This is not to say that there aren’t people in our lives whom we find annoying or comforting. Of course there are! It’s just that we are personally responsible for how we let those people affect us. We are also responsible for our behavior choices in response to the emotions we feel. Let’s say you have a particular end-user who struggles regularly with technology and you dread getting a service ticket from them. They may be super annoying to you, but it’s your choice whether to handle them with courtesy and professionalism or to sigh and mutter insults under your breath. The first response is how someone who is emotionally intelligent would handle it. The second response shows immaturity and a lack of emotional intelligence. Frankly, the second response is inexcusable.

Your ability to recognize your own emotions and to manage them effectively is a sign of emotional intelligence and maturity. Managing emotions successfully allows you to build positive relationships in both your professional and personal life, helps you manage conflict, and manage your personal stress.

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