Healthy emotional intelligence is one of the most critical factors in healthy relationships, leadership and marriages. There is a simple way that we can regularly increase our health in this area. It is watching for when we get into trouble with our emotions, reactions, actions or words (all EQ issues) and taking the time to analyze what got us into trouble and what we will do next time to avoid the reactions that troubled us.
Recently I suggested something to my spouse that did not go over very well (not the first time). Obviously my approach was not helpful even if I thought the subject was relevant. But, knowing that I did not successfully communicate, and having thought through the conversation, I will work on a different tact next time. There is no use paying the same dumb tax twice.
All of us have people, situations or topics that trigger emotions in us and often reactions that we wish afterwards had been different. The good news is that those triggers are signals to us that we need to pay attention to whatever it was that triggered the reaction, ask why we responded the way we did and then come up with a game plan to handle the situation next time.
This is all about managing our shadow side. Managing our emotions and reactions so that they work for us and not against us.
Emotional triggers are normal. Mature individuals, however, learn to pay attention to them and work to modify those reactions so they do not embarrass themselves, cause additional relational disconnect or respond with the same lack of EQ that the other individual probably used in triggering their emotions.
Each time we experience a reaction on our part that we don't like, it is an opportunity to grow in our ability to handle that situation next time. Usually the more nonreactive we become, learning to manage our outward emotions, the less likely we are to either escalate the situation or say or do something we will later regret.
For leaders, this is especially important because unregulated emotion and reactions can cause serious loss of trust to a leader. The more we pay attention to needed areas of EQ growth the better off we are.