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Does your level of Emotional Intelligence help you to manage stress?

Even the word ‘stress’ can make us a feel a little stressed! It’s often described as how our body reacts to any kind of threat and is mostly associated with the feeling of being overwhelmed and not having complete control. This is a very common feeling for lots of us at the moment and all too common when it comes to the management and delivery of projects.

Many project managers can relate to feelings of stress at impending steering group meetings! Having to explain to budget holders why the project has gone over/under budget or why the project is flagging red. Not being in control can be a difficult feeling and often admitting we’re not in control can too often be perceived as a weakness.

Human beings naturally desire a sense of control but life, work, our projects are all uncertain and unpredictable, when we start to realise that some factors are uncontrollable, we start to react differently.

The good news:

Raising our Emotional Intelligence can greatly reduce our stress levels

As discussed in our previous blog posts, Emotional Intelligence starts with a focus on our self awareness. If we want to improve any of our behaviours, we need to be aware of our changing emotions and the triggers.
It’s exactly the same when it comes to managing stress. To improve our ability to manage stress you can start with how you’re feeling, what has led you to this and identifying what triggers these feelings of stress.
As our EI gives us the insight into our behaviours as they happen, it also helps us to take control of stress. Emotionally intelligence people have greater control by paying attention and using the information provided by their emotions and the emotions of others.
Has your stress levels ever had an impact on your work-life balance?

The Stress Management element of the EQ-i 2.0 is made-up of 3 sub scales –

  1. Flexibility
  2. Stress Tolerance
  3. Optimism

Bringing these 3 sub scales together helps us to reflect on this key question –

How well can you cope with the emotions associated with change and unpredictable circumstances while remaining hopeful about the future and resilient in the face of setbacks?

We talked about the boat analogy in our last blog post. I hope this resonated with you. You’ve maybe been noticing how different people in your team are reacting during this time? The most confident member of your team could well be struggling with being isolated, the most introverted might be flourishing in their new online home environment!

So, it’s important to understand what might stress out one person may not unnerve the next. It all depends on how we perceive the stressor!

What’s the difference? Some leaders have allowed themselves to let stress overcome them when things get tough in a project.

Creating awareness of what might stress us out –

  • What stresses you out? Be specific
  • How do you know when you feel stressed? Is a physical or emotion feeling?
  • How does your stress impact others? It does, even if you think it doesn’t!

Building some strategies to help us manage stress – 

  • How do you deal with difficult times at work?
  • What are your coping strategies?
  • What is the worst that can happen? What is within your control?

Reflecting on these questions will help you to become more aware of your stress levels at work and help you to create coping strategies in advance.

Let’s move onto optimism – How many of us are tired of people saying  – ‘Just be positive!’ I’ve been guilty of saying this in the past and since my intense focus on EI, I now say its not about being positive, its about being optimistic and I’ve been saying this a lot lately. When we think of the current storm we’re all in, there are only 2 questions we should ask ourselves –

  • What are the positives?
  • What are the opportunities?

‘Choose Optimism – it feels better’ Anon

We can call Optimism – hope, faith, trust, having a positive expectation and outlook on life! Once we choose hope, anything is possible.

How does this look – “An emotionally effective PM sets high expectations for their team and displays the confidence in their ability to achieve them – and believes they will!’

Always look for the positives to keep yours and your teams boat afloat. There are always many out there and when our team can’t see them, this is when the leader is even more important.

Developing our EI to manage stress 

  1. Understand the Inner Voice
  2. Be self aware – understand your emotions
  3. Check in and be aware of the emotions of others
  4. Respond, don’t react. Accept what’s within your control
  5. Make space for listening
  6. See things from other peoples point of view
  7. Ask for help