manage your distressing emotions

How emotionally intelligent people cope with stress

Emotionally intelligent people use self-analysis, self-awareness, reason, logic and authenticity to manage stressful situations successfully.

You’re in the middle of a fierce argument, everything seems to be falling apart. You’re looking for answers, but you’re merely one sentence away from blowing up in anger. Can you relate to this scenario? If yes, then you are among the millions who struggle to manage their unwanted stress.

Stress can find you anywhere; while driving in traffic, giving a presentation, or arguing with your partner. But when it comes to dealing with stress-inducing, high-pressure situations, everyone does it differently.

It is natural to have a negative emotional response to your stressful days. However, some people (with high emotional intelligence or emotional quotient) channelise their emotions and handle sensitive situations better than others. A person with high EQ is self-aware, enough to recognise and tackle these feelings and talk themselves down before getting pushed over the edge.

For their unique ability to handle their emotions, people with high-EQ have become the first choice of corporate leaders to handle bigger responsibilities at work. A study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior at the Virginia Commonwealth University, concludes that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of a successful career. It is a skill projected for success. As per the 2016 World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, where human resources experts from global companies answered what they identified as the top 10 job skills required for workers to succeed by 2020, emotional intelligence topped the list.

In this feature, Soulveda shares how emotionally intelligent people handle pressure in difficult and provocative situations.

issue at hand with a calm mind

Emotionally intelligent people step back to contemplate and approach the issue at hand with a calm mind.

Identify the triggers and the stressors

In a stressful situation, our immediate instinct is to react—mostly to defend ourselves. When emotionally charged, we often lose our cool and tread on the path of negativity, which leads to outbursts, anxiety, and frustration; at times completely crumbling under the weight of the circumstances.

In a similar situation, emotionally intelligent people use their time and energy for self-analysis to identify the triggers and stressors. Once they get a handle on what is pushing their buttons, they devise a cognitive and behavioural plan to refocus their energy and replace the negative thoughts with reason and logic.

Simple breathing exercises, a short break, or a conversation with a trusted friend are a few methods they employ whenever they feel stress building up or a situation going south.

Respond, not react

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?” – Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

Every single day, we spend time reacting to people and events around us. But, reacting without thinking of the consequences is never the best course of action and often worsens the matter.

On the other hand, emotionally intelligent people process the situation, get perspectives, and keep their impulses at bay. They step back to contemplate and approach the issue at hand with a calm mind.

If we don’t react immediately, our thinking process kicks into action, and we make reasoned, more rational decisions.

Don’t hide behind masks

When faced with pressure, especially at work, we often hide our true feelings and thoughts to avoid uncomfortable confrontations. By doing so, however, we could end up saying things we don’t mean or create circumstances we never intended.

Emotionally intelligent people always show up with their most authentic selves. They never falter in the face of difficulty because they address every situation with honesty, transparency, and calmness. Being present in the moment, maintaining self-control, calmness, and rationality will help you be your true self.

Emotionally intelligent people

Emotionally intelligent people always show up with their most authentic selves.

Weigh your words before you speak

A habit that sets high-EQ individuals apart from the rest is their habit of weighing their words well before delivering them. This habit not only ensures they respond well to the circumstances but also helps them leave a positive impact on others.

Your words underline your thoughts and reinforce them. If you speak before you think about what you wish to say, you do not take the time to consider what words to use, what they might be interpreted as, or how they may reflect upon you. Some effort in controlling your words can bring about a lot of positive change in your life.

Focus on the driving force

It is easy to lose sight of your goals when you are faced with situations you can’t handle, people you think are too difficult to deal with, or emotions that are too strong to express. In such situations, it is easy to be clouded by negative emotions and not see the light.

But, when you are passionate to perform well at your job or are driven to be positive in your outlook, you are more likely to focus on your reasons to stay motivated through any arguments you may have.

Awareness for the self and others

One of the fundamental qualities of emotionally intelligent people is self-awareness. Because they are aware of not only their strengths but also their weaknesses, they’re capable of seeing all aspects of an issue and tap into their own feelings and those of others to choose a different and better outcome. In his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, author Daniel Goleman writes, “If you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”


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