I’ve been coaching a delightful man who is wanting to change some of his negative communication habits, one of which is reacting when defensive. We talked about what emotions and physical sensations he feels when he is defensive. He has practiced being aware of them and what information he can garner from them. As a result, he has learned the skills of pausing, breathing, and reframing his thoughts to respond with words that are more positive and inclusive. He is less possessive about his work and his department’s work when receiving criticism from others.
This is an example of practicing being emotionally intelligent. It’s difficult to change one’s communication habits. But, it is a greater challenge to learn how to be aware of your emotions and body sensations, and be open to what they can teach you. Self-awareness, consciousness, and being nonjudgmental are foundational to increasing our level of emotional intelligence. Our emotions and body sensations are a wealth of information that enable us to practice new habits that results in positive communications and respectful relationships.
Consider this practice: “Listen to what your emotions and body sensations are telling you and act on what you discover.”
Then, ask yourself: “What am I feeling and what does it have to say to me?”
(Some of this content was adapted, with permission, from “Learn From Your Emotions” from Pause – 52 Ways to Shift Any Outcome in Less Than a Minute: Practical Mindfulness for Leaders by Jennifer Sellers, Sheri Boone, and Kate Harper, 2011)