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Let’s face it, sometimes people wig out.

It could be your teenager, your spouse, or possibly a team member you’re supervising. They can’t handle the no or the not so good news you had to spring on them. They have an emotional meltdown, ranting and spewing all the negatives of the situation.

While teaching a stress management workshop recently, one of the members came up with a brilliant strategy to handle people’s negativity and I think it will work with just about anyone.

1. Validate the person’s feelings

Go ahead and give them permission to feel angry, disgruntled, emotional or negative. If you argue with them about their feelings, you only make the feelings hotter.

2. Give a time limit to expressing negativity

Set a 15 minute time frame for spewing all their negative hostility. After 15 minutes, time for negativity is up. Set that clear boundary.

3. Give the positive behavior you want now

Whatever behavior or situation they’re angry about, give clear direction on what you expect. Share the positive behavior you want and then model it.

Do you want to build a new friendship or strengthen your marriage? Need to repair conflict with a co-worker? Dream of having the self confidence to speak up for what you want?

Researchers at UCLA report that success in life is 20% intellect and 80% emotional intelligence. Boosting your emotional intelligence begins with growing your people skills–the foundation for a happy, successful life.

Be smart from the heart. Here are my top 5 EI tips:

1. Know your emotions

Knowing your emotions is like being a good wine connoisseur. When an oenophile–a wine lover–sips a Cabernet or Zinfandel, you probably won’t hear them describe it simply as “good” or bad.”  Wine may be dry or fruity, smooth or complex, smoky or spicy, tart or buttery–it’s full of subtle aromas, tastes, and textures.  Does your feeling vocabulary express the complexity, subtleties, and wide range of emotions in your life? Become an emotion connoisseur. Get a feeling magnet and hang it on your refrigerator or filing cabinet at work to help you identify your many emotions throughout the day.

2. Manage your emotions

Stuffing leads to hypertension, headaches, muscle tightness, and emotional constipation. Spewing leads to aggression, impulsive behavior, conflicts with people, and hurt feelings. Take the balanced approach to managing your emotions and share your feelings calmly. Sharing, instead of stuffing or spewing, rewards you with self-awareness, physical relief, improved communication in relationships, and, of course, a boost in your emotional intelligence.

3. Motivate yourself

Self-motivated people enjoy happier relationships, higher spirits, and a stronger sense of self responsibility. Want to crank up your self motivation and win every day?

  • Dive into reading and learning about topics that rev your engines
  • Watch movies and listen to music that inspires you
  • Spend quality time with other motivated people
  • Set goals and compete with yourself to achieve them
  • Celebrate your victories

4. Identify and recognize emotions in other people

Reading facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and eye contact are crucial to fully understanding others and strengthening your emotional intelligence. Don’t only listen for what is being said, pay attention to what is unsaid, as well. Train yourself to state the obvious. For example; “You keep looking at the floor when you are talking to me. Help me understand what is going on inside of you right now.” The better you can read and understand other peoples’ “traffic signs,” the more successful you will be in connecting and communicating in meaningful, healthy ways. Traffic signals keep us safely on the road to our destination.  The same is true in relationships.

5. Care for your relationships

As leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” Caring for relationships is like tending a garden.  You must prepare a foundation, plant seeds, nurture the buds as they grow, manage weeds, and harvest the fruit. Ask yourself, how can I tend to the relationships in my life?  Is it time to plant?  Time to nurture?  Time to harvest? You may not have a green thumb but when you care for the relationships in your life, building emotional intelligence along the way, you are certain to see love and friendship blossom.