Emotional Competence 3: How to Not Loose the Plot!

In my last article on emotional competence, we noted that the Emotional Competence Framework(1) has two main areas; Personal Competence and Social Competence. To recap they consist of;

Personal Competence which has three areas;

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation

And Social Competence which has two areas;

  • Empathy
  • Social Skills

In my last article we just looked at Self-Awareness so now we’ll continue with Self-Regulation. Just being aware of your emotions isn’t enough. I might be aware that I’m feeling hurt/angry/sad/etc. …but that doesn’t mean I can control and manage those emotions.

In Daniel Goleman’s book1 he defines self-regulation as ‘managing one’s internal states, impulses and resources’ and lists several distinctions;

  • Self-control. This is the ability to keep disruptive emotions in check. To not act on impulse, whether this is a physical or verbal lashing out. Rather, being able to feel the emotion and manage your response from it. in Neuro-Semantics, this is the skill of being able to mentally step-back from the emotion and bring a meta-state of control to it – even when the emotion is strong. I have heard one person say to me numerous times regarding lashing out; “I know I do it, but I can’t stop myself”. This is an indication of poor self-control.
  • Trustworthiness. Leading on from self-control comes trustworthiness. Being honest and having integrity – and maintaining these standards as your norm. This isn’t being trustworthy with others (that’s part of Social Competence), but within yourself. Keeping personal standards strong so that they don’t falter even when times are tough. It’s trusting yourself to live up to your own personal values. When we don’t do this, we feel all kinds of internal conflicts and self-detriments. Are you honest with yourself? Do you trust yourself and trust yourself to do what’s right? 
  • Conscientiousness. This is being responsible for yourself and doing the best you can. It’s not blaming or finding scapegoats but owning your emotions and the words and actions which result from them. In Self Leadership we develop a strong sense of ownership of our emotions, thoughts, speech, and behaviours. 
  • Adaptability. Being flexible enough to change your emotions when the situation warrants it. If in the midst of an emotional outburst, can you (when new facts or information becomes present) change your emotional state when appropriate to do so? Or (even if the other person’s perspective suddenly makes some sense), do you doggedly stick to your guns in order to not lose face? You’ll notice here that good self-esteem (mentioned in the last article) is essential for this.
  • Innovation. Innovation is in many ways intertwined with adaptability. It involves being open to new information and being comfortable with ‘outside-the-square’ thinking and coming up with unique ways to solve problems. The training I run on Creativity and Innovation takes the concepts of adaptability and innovation in problem solving to whole new heights.

So you’ll see that self-regulation is far from easy – for some people at least. There is a whole neurobiology that has been well studied regarding the connections between the emotional areas of the brain and the prefrontal cortex which regulates critical thinking and self-control. But that’s far beyond the scope of this article. All we know on a day-to-day experiential level is that emotions can often overwhelm, and good self-regulation skills help keep them in check – and often keep us out of trouble as a result!

But it’s not just staying out of trouble. Emotional regulation/control is critical for success in many areas; sports, business and of course relationships. Being able to control your emotions and think critically and logically is essential for successful business negotiations and many of us will have seen or experienced the idea of athletes or sports teams “psyching-out” the opposition.

For training and coaching in these essential areas of life, check out the coaching and training pages of my website or email alan@optimum-mind.com. I’m always happy to chat.

  1. ‘Working With Emotional Intelligence’ – Daniel Goleman

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