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The Secret To High Performance – Emotional Intelligence

Influence of emotions on decision making process
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by Nikita Phadnavis

Emotions certainly have a massive role in our romantic lives, but what role do they play in achieving goals, performance or our professional lives?

In reality, emotions influence every decision we make and everything we do. 

To understand the importance of emotions, let us examine the structure of our brain. Of course, our brains are a complex system, but for the sake of our understanding, let's look at this simplified diagram, where the brain is divided into three key areas.

The Reptilian Brain is the one that is responsible for maintaining essential bodily functions such as the heartbeat, body temperature, breathing, etc. The Mammalian Brain or the Limbic system is the feeling brain responsible for our emotions. And the Neocortex, which is the newest part of the brain, is the thinking brain that makes logical and rational decisions.

Brain evolution Emotional Intelligence

Every stimulus that enters the brain passes through the Limbic system (the feeling brain) before it reaches the Neocortex (the thinking brain). So we cannot make any decision without feeling first. Therefore, our emotions influence all our decisions and actions. Hence we cannot afford to ignore our emotions, but we need to learn to manage them.

Paul MacLean put forth the idea of this Triune brain or the three function brain. The three layers of the brain, the Reptilian Brain, the Mammalian Brain, and the Cortex, influence each other. This means our emotions influence our physiological responses as well as our thought processes. For example, when you're 'feeling stressed,' your heart beats faster - your Mammalian brain influencing your Reptilian brain. In the same way, when you're 'feeling stressed,' you might make decisions that seem wise in the moment, but you might regret them later - your Mammalian brain influencing your Cortex. Similarly, our thoughts control our emotions, and our physiological responses affect our feelings too. Understanding how our emotions affect everything we do can enable us to manage our actions, thus affecting our performance.

how to control emotions

The question is, how can we manage our emotions?

Developing your Emotional Intelligence (EI) empowers you to recognise emotions in yourself and others and use this knowledge to manage emotions and influence actions. EI is your ability to turn your impulses and emotions into reasoned actions. 

The first step towards developing your EI would be to build self-awareness.

Self-awareness is beyond knowing your likes and dislikes. Instead, it is knowing yourself and your beliefs, understanding and labelling your emotions, and identifying your triggers and tendencies. Self-awareness is the foundation of EI; only when you can identify your emotions and trigger,  you can learn to manage them or identify them in others.

It is essential to understand your beliefs, especially self-limiting beliefs. Are there any beliefs that are holding you back from achieving your dreams? Does your inner voice tell you, "I can't," and why is that so?Along with your beliefs, examine your values. For example, what are your goals and ambitions, and why are they important to you?

The second step is self-management - acting, not reacting.

It does not mean suppressing emotions; instead, we learn strategies to manage our emotions and how we respond to triggers. Take a moment now to think about the circumstances, situations or thoughts that trigger specific emotions in you. For example, do you feel stressed or overwhelmed on Sunday afternoon when you think about going to work on Monday? Or does the thought of taking time off work and going on a holiday make you feel good? Pay attention to the thoughts and the emotions they trigger. 

These triggers can be internal or external.

Internal triggers are your thoughts, as we've seen in the above example. But external triggers are circumstances or situations. For example, when a client or boss speaks to you in a disrespectful manner. When you know your triggers, you will be better placed to manage them. Journaling can help in identifying these triggers. Once you have recognised these triggers plan strategies to manage them. 

External and internal triggers emotional intelligence

Let's look at a common emotional response - stress.  

If you're feeling stressed, it is an indication that you care about that issue, that it matters to you. Now think why is it so important. For example, I often feel stressed when I have to deliver a presentation in front of a large group of people. I know it stresses me out because I don't want things to go wrong, as I want to be able to confidently share my knowledge and make an impact. And not being able to do that would affect my reputation. So it stresses me out. To manage this emotion, firstly, I acknowledge it. I accept that the presentation is important and it makes me nervous. Then I try to focus on how proud and elated I would feel when I've delivered the presentation successfully. Focusing on the positive enables me to deal with negative emotions. That's just one of the strategies. And there will be different strategies that work at different times for different people.

Self-awareness and self-management empower us to recognise our values, beliefs and thoughts and then to deal with the unwanted emotions to gather the strength to focus on our goals. 

Influence of emotions on decision making process

Emotions influence every action and every decision.

It's your emotions that trigger you to binge watch Netflix, and it's emotions that propel you to chase your dreams. So the secret to high performance is becoming aware of these emotions and managing them rather than letting the emotions manage you.

By the way, join us on Thursday, 2nd March at 5pm GMT to learn about how influencer marketing campaigns flourish and, sometimes, fail. Aquila Mendez-Valdez knows everything about influencer marketing and is happy to share her knowledge with you!

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