Emotional Savvy




How well you use emotional savvy is a significant determinant of how successful you are in life, according to Daniel Goleman, author of the recent best-seller Emotional Intelligence.

Consider that people who manage their feelings well, and who read and deal effectively with other people's feelings, are at an advantage in relationships, or in picking up unspoken rules that govern success in business. In most settings, there are obvious negative consequences if someone is unable to keep from exploding in anger, or has no sensitivity about what people around them are feeling. When people are upset, they cannot remember, attend, learn, or make decisions clearly. In matters of health, research shows that people who experience chronic anxiety, long periods of sadness and pessimism, unremitting tension or incessant hostility--have double the risk of illness, including asthma, arthritis, headaches, peptic ulcers, and heart disease. Emotional savvy is important!

Emotional intelligence has five domains. The first is knowing your own feelings. A good way to promote awareness of feelings is to put words to them, enriching your vocabulary of feeling terms and using them more precisely. Instead of saying that you feel "bad," for example, describe the feeling more accurately, such as "sad," lonely," disappointed," etc.

The second domain is managing emotions, which refers to handling feelings so that your life is not sabotaged. It also reflects the ability to bounce back quickly from life's upsets and setbacks. When you are fearful or anxious, for example, examine your thoughts and shift from fear fantasies to creative thinking about how to deal with your situation. If you are angry, avoid self-talk that further inflames you, identify what you really want and then think about what you can do to help produce that result. Translate the energy into motivation for more skillful efforts with a greater likelihood of success.

The third domain is self-motivation, which includes paying attention, delaying gratification, and managing impulsiveness. There is enormous energy behind your feelings, which when marshalled in service of your goals can boost your motivation and produce successes you might not even have dreamed of. Identify and remind yourself often of long-term objectives to wisely invest your energy.

The fourth domain is the recognition of feelings in others. It is empathy, which promotes attunement to subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want. This increases effectiveness not only in social situations and in relationships, but also in acts of caring generally, such as in occupational pursuits that involve teaching, management, networking, or human services.

The fifth domain is the effective handling of relationships, or dealing with feelings in others. This is crucial to interpersonal effectiveness in intimate as well as business and peer relationships. Showing others you have heard what they said to you, giving them time to share their perspective on things, de-escalating tension and being assertive are a few key ways to maintain your social savvy.

Maintaining optimism figures prominently in emotional literacy. A key to optimism is the belief that one has influence over the events of life and can meet challenges as they arise. Pessimists see failure as due to factors they cannot change, while optimists look for what they have learned so they can do things differently. So recognize what you have learned from the "lessons" of your life: identify and use your emotional savvy and watch your successes soar in 1997!
© 1997
 Mark Shafer  


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