Today’s companies are fast-paced and require constant change. Many times, it’s easy to feel like you’re “near death” as surprises from coworkers, supervisors, customers, and others come at you fast and furious. But like Indy 500 drivers, knowing how to keep your cool in a crisis by developing and flexing a strong EQ or emotional quotient, can help you survive to drive another day. High-quality team development exercises can help.
How Your Emotions Function as a Safety Catch
A good Indy 500 driver knows his own skills and abilities, both strengths and weaknesses. And he also knows his own car; he’s comfortable in it, and can tell right away when something is ‘off’. As much as any helmet, seatbelt or fresh tires, that keen self-awareness is a critical safety feature in the sport of racing. In that same way, emotions in the workplace are also a key internal safety feature.
When employees have a well-developed sense of emotional awareness, they master their emotional quotient or EQ. They are stable, trustworthy, confident, flexible, optimistic, and committed. With others, they communicate well, manage conflict, collaborate and cooperate, and exhibit strong leadership skills.
There are two components to EQ, inward-facing, and outward-facing. Inwardly, people with high EQ are self-aware (recognizing an emotion they’re feeling), self-managed (is this an appropriate emotion for this situation?), and self-motivated (this emotion can be set aside so that a goal can be accomplished). Outwardly, these people have a strong sense of empathy and are adept at managing social situations. They’re “people” people and have good interpersonal relationships with others.
Leverage EQ for Success
A good Indy 500 driver knows the track. He’s scoped out the layout, orientation, and structure. In that same way, a person with high EQ has the skills necessary to “read the track” of others. Important skills include the ability to recognize emotions present in yourself and others. These people have the words and concepts to identify these emotions, assess them, master them, and express them capable. This goes hand-in-hand with the ability to pick up on others’ emotions and respond to them appropriately.
This kind of understanding allows someone to leverage emotions for success. The ability to do things like empathize, negotiate, and communicate with others paves the way to influence, lead, and reason with others so that a common goal may be achieved. While one might think someone’s either born with high EQ or not, highly effective training and team building activities can certainly develop it.
Identify Emotional ‘Warning Signs’ Through Team Building Exercises
A good indy 500 driver can respond to road conditions quickly. Good reflexes and training allow for rapid adaptability even before the striped flag is waved to alert drivers. But do you know the emotional warning signs to look for in the workplace? They vary from person to person. Learning what they are can keep you from spinning off the track – either getting wrapped up in someone else’s wreck or caught in one of your own.
Stress has a lot of physical and psychological effects, and it’s a significant warning, perhaps the most common. Along similar lines, holding onto emotions after an event has passed, like holding a grudge or repeatedly reminding others of mistakes, can be a problem, as can ‘not’ showing emotion; sometimes when you’re angry, it’s warranted and it’s appropriate to express it.
Additional qualities that may alert you to a problem is an inability to speak up when needed. The opposite may also be true – that someone is quick to speak up and then seeks validation of those statements or decisions.
People with low EQ may also find they’re not able to identify emotions with clarity. They recognize that their feelings are hurt but aren’t able to describe those feelings in greater detail, using words like embarrassed, ashamed, angry or inferior. Others are easily offended or have a tendency to blame others for their feelings, or complain regularly that no one else understands them.
Recognizing these emotional warning signs can prompt someone to take a step out of the situation to re-assess and re-group, managing intense emotions and getting an objective grasp on the underlying factors that are generating a certain emotion. For employees who need help improving EQ, specialized team building and training activities can provide the necessary tools and techniques.
Make It to the Finish Line
Like Indy 500 racecar drivers, people with a strong EQ have the skills and talent to go the distance. They adapt to sudden changes and the unexpected moves of others. EQ includes an inward and outward focus. Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation, coupled with empathy for others and strong social skills demonstrate this. In addition, having a bead on the warning signs that something is wrong can help avert disaster. Improving or fine-tuning those skills through team building exercises can strengthen teams, departments, and organizations, not just individuals.