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Our brains experience an emotional reaction to any situation BEFORE we can experience a single rational thought about it. Therefore, it's impossible to 'leave your emotions at the door'. Instead, become more emotionally intelligent: learn to become aware of your emotions and override your 'gut reactions' with rational analysis and self-regulation. In addition, learn to increase your awareness of others' emotions and incorporate this data into your communication strategies to enhance your results.
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Halelly: Hi. Have you ever heard the saying, “Leave your emotions at the door when you come to work?” Can you really do that? A lot of people try. A lot of people heard this advice and try to follow it, meaning when they come to work they kind of set aside their expectations to be treated fairly or for their ideas to be incorporated or even asked about their ideas. For people to treat them well or if somebody mistreats them or yells at them, or is unfair or rude, to not take that personally or not experience any kind of emotional reaction. And certainly not to try and figure out anything about other people’s emotions as they do their work. Just leave your emotions at the door.
Well guess what? According to the budding field of neuroscience, which actually started in 1990s, we now have the ability to really look into the human brain and see where we experience emotions and what we know is this – we experience emotions in the limbic part of our brain, which is the most ancient part of our brain, the part of the brain that we share with animals. The part of our brain where we experience threat and reward and our reactions to any kind of information that is happening to us comes in through that part of our brain to figure out if we’re safe or not. Or if there is something that we need to capture to help us stay alive. This is part of our safety mechanism. We cannot override it. In fact, we experience our emotions in that part of the brain and we experience them within milliseconds of the information coming in through our nervous system. We cannot physically leave our emotions anywhere. In fact, we experience our emotions before we experience anything else.
Now, people talk about emotional intelligence, and what I can tell you is a lot of times when I come and talk to leaders about emotional intelligence, a lot of them have this misperception about what emotional intelligence is. They think that it’s about being touchy feeling at work, and maybe being more emotional or more expressive about your emotions or really constantly worrying about what other people are feeling about you. And that’s not really the case. What it really means is being aware of the fact that you do experience emotions. Every human experiences emotions and the one thing that makes us different from animals is that we have this newer part of our brain, the neocortex, that allows us to experience rational processing and thinking about those emotions before we take action.
So, what emotional intelligence really means is that you become more aware of your own emotional reaction and then learn to override them or to critically assess them through the neocortext, your rational brain, to decide whether they are a good basis for reaction and what the best course of action should be. And the other part of emotional intelligence is also being a little more in tune to trying to read other people’s emotional reactions as you interact with them, and to take that into consideration as you create a strategy for communicating with them, for influencing them, for leading them, that is going to bring out the very best results for both of you. It’s not about ignoring emotions or leaving them at home, because we can’t. And it’s not about trying to be very emotional, or allowing emotions to take over our brain at work. Because that doesn’t make any sense. It’s about rationally incorporating emotional data into our strategic behavior. So emotional intelligence means being more intelligent about being aware of and managing your own emotions and the emotions of others.