Steve micromanages his staff when his emotions get the best of him. Everything we experience passes first through the emotional part of our brains, called the limbic system. A trigger event, such as a new deadline to meet, is “felt” by the limbic system before we have any rational reaction to the circumstance. So, we fully experience the anxiety, exuberance, or irritation of a moment before the rational part of the brain gets a crack at choosing the direction to head in response to the situation. Steve reacts to his anxiety about trusting the abilities of his team members. He is likely unaware of this emotion, and doesn’t recognize the impact of his actions on those around him.
And Steve isn’t alone. TalentSmart® studied more than 500,000 people in preparing Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and discovered that just 36% of us are able to accurately identify our emotions as they happen and more than 70% of us experience great difficulty handling the conflict and stress that inevitably surface at work. With so few people able to understand their emotions as they happen, the stresses of the workplace are quick to impede performance. And they don’t just halt our progress while we’re at the office: 87% of the people we tested found their personal lives greatly impacted by their work.
Taking The Blinders Off
Mind blindness happens when we lose focus on the circumstances that surround us and let defining moments drift by beneath our awareness. Emotional intelligence offers a way out by teaching us the skills needed to know what, when, why and how our thoughts and emotions influence our actions. Building EQ ensures that you manage the pivotal responses needed to stay productive and do more with less.
How might Steve look after increasing his emotional intelligence? The most profound difference he’ll experience won’t be visible to the outside world. When someone develops new emotional intelligence skills, his brain cells grow new connections that facilitate the continued use of the new behaviors. A single brain cell can grow 15,000 connections to help it communicate with its neighbors. By practicing new EQ skills, Steve literally strengthens the communication between the parts of his brain that are responsible for feeling emotions and thinking rationally. This physical change helps him—when faced with a similar deadline—to delegate responsibilities and resist the urge to micromanage.