Already in demand as a desired workplace quality for several years, emotional intelligence is now being heralded as a crucial people skill to help navigate turbulent waters in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
If you're up for evaluating where you stand in relation to the tenets of emotional intelligence during this time of crisis and uncertainty, I ask you five important questions to help you determine your own emotional intelligence:
1. Are you regularly displaying empathy?
People are scared. To help alleviate suffering, exercising your EQ helps you understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within his or her frame of reference, whether a customer or fellow employee. Having the capacity to empathize with someone else's experience or challenge is key for uniting teams and banding together with peers and co-workers as we face new realities together.
2. Are you showing optimism in the face of uncertainty?
With unprecedented events comes the opportunity to show unprecedented optimism. Show it by being that beacon of light piercing the dark by lifting people up and encouraging those under distress.
Be the person who shows gratitude for technology, flexibility, and having access to instant information to make the right decisions.
Be the person who praises the efforts of courageous and resilient colleagues who are being productive and making work happen under extreme adversity.
Be the person who shows optimism by taking responsibility for your actions and finding solutions to problems. By doing so, you are helping yourself and others. This is the emotionally intelligent thing to do.
3. Are you being flexible in the new normal?
Rather than canceling that planned event, consider switching to a digital event through webcasting with the various videoconferencing platforms available. Whatever the "old normal" was for your face-to-face daily routine, be flexible by using technology to communicate, stay connected, and be productive while protecting everyone from the spread of the virus.
4. Are you managing your distressing emotions well?
Stress is a normal part of life. But it has elevated to heights we've never imagined. To deal with possible disruptions that may be related to stress, such as sadness, confusion, irritability, anger, or reduced concentration and productivity, the first step is to understand your emotional state, acknowledge what you're feeling, and recognize when symptoms are related to stress.
Now you're in a position to manage your stress. For example, if you began noticing signs of increased stress since the coronavirus outbreak, chances are you're experiencing a normal stress response -- stress related to concerns about catching the virus, stress about loss of work, or stress related to managing the kids at home on top of work! By staying in tune with what you're experiencing on a day-to-day basis, you can manage what you can and release control of the things you cannot.
5. Are you adapting smoothly to changing realities?
Now more than ever we can leverage the power of emotional intelligence to stay grounded, not panic, and put our focus toward building the future we want for our businesses and communities.
No, we can't control what has happened and should probably put the events that led to the outbreak in the rearview mirror so they don't hold any power over us. What we can do is choose how to respond to the circumstances unraveling around us.
First, accept the reality that this is, for now, the new normal and that life will go on. Next, embrace change with open arms. As humans, it's normal for us to struggle with change, as with it come fear and anxiety. However, exercising your EQ with self-empathy and self-compassion will help you adjust more easily through uncomfortable transitions.
To do that, suspending the negative self-talk and your own self-judgment, and rejecting the lies you tell yourself are critical to building self-compassion. Remember, thoughts come and go, and feelings change. As you adapt to your new world by treating yourself with patience and kindness, know that this, too, shall pass.