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Emotional Intelligence – Part 1 – KNOW YOURSELF

Thoughts on our emotions…

For me, Emotional Intelligence is almost a science, the science of “savoir-être”!

Peter Salovey and John Mayer wrote in 1997: “Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth”.

Joshua Freedman, Six Seconds’ CEO, teaches that: “Emotional Intelligence is to be able to consciously integrate emotions, thought and action to obtain an optimal result in our relation with one self and with the others. In other words, it is BEING SMART WITH FEELINGS.”

In my training sessions, when I asked participants to create a list of abilities and competences that have been the reasons for success of many known leaders and then to identify which ones are related to emotional intelligence, it is without surprise they answer that they all are. This is why we all need to go further! Do the exercise yourselves.

The method elaborated by Six Seconds, from which I am certified, does propose a simple model that is taught around the world, even to children: eight competencies divided in three pursuits which are Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Give Yourself within a dynamic process. Presented in a circle because the three steps are cyclical. “Like a propeller driving a ship, the model should “spin,” it works when you Know, Choose, Give, Know, Choose, Give, Know… etc. As you spin this “EQ propeller” you will gain momentum and insight to move toward optimal decisions.” (At the Heart of Leadership, Joshua Freedman, page 91)

Today, I would like to introduce the first pursuit: “KNOW YOURSELF” (increase awareness).

Who can claim to know oneself well without accepting to take a good look at himself, to do the exercise of asking for feedback, to measure his emotional quotient with an individual psychometric tool or better, to participate in a EQ 360 Leadership Development program? Even better, why don’t you try to find a coach to DARE taking a look at getting to know yourself better, awakening your own conscience, discovering who you are and developing what can make you a better person, through the creation and follow-up of a plan of action because emotional intelligence can be developed.

To better understand, let’s take a definition of the word “emotion”. David Sandler, Professor of Psychology and Researcher at the E3 Laboratory for the study of Emotion Elicitation and Expression of the University of Geneva proposes the following: “A rapid phenomenon triggered by an event that generates a coherent emotional response to several components.” Emotion, in everyday speech, is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.

In the last two weeks, you certainly have experienced a wide variety of emotions, whether good or bad. These emotions play a vital role in our lives while having a direct effect on our performance. So do this little exercise: take a sheet of paper and write two positive emotions and two negative emotions experienced in the last week, then note what these emotions have made you live. Take the time to think and reflect on these situations – it is worth it.

To deepen the intention “KNOW YOURSELF”, one must master two skills:

  • Enhance Emotional Literacy, i.e. accurately identifying and interpreting both simple and compound feelings. How are you? Oh I’m fine…
  • Recognize patterns, i.e. acknowledging recurring reactions and behaviours. Learning to observe a reaction in process is critical for understanding our emotional drivers…


Identifying our emotions and recognizing the patterns that generate them allows us to collect accurate data to better develop and manage itself. It is also clearly visualizing what we feel; it’s visualizing your strengths, your weaknesses, and your blind spots. You become aware of what you are doing and the possible games you are using unconsciously.

Let’s be clear! Emotions are pure energy. They are chemical within our bodies and brains, called “neuropeptides”, a type of neurotransmitter that carries emotional signals through our bodies. They are assets as they produce data on you and on the others. Having the ability to name and interpret them can help you understand the genesis of your behaviour. Again, as written by Joshua Freedman, “The way we feel influences the way we think and act.”

Robert Plutchik (1927–2006) considered there are eight primary emotions: fear, anger, joy, sadness, trust, disgust, anticipation and surprise. Basic emotions can express themselves in varying degrees of intensity and combine with each other to form different emotions. You want to get a list of emotions by category and intensity, send me an email and I will send it to you. Or simply consult Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions.

Six Seconds worked on the positive effects we should look for when we experience these different emotions. Indeed, behind the energy contained in the emotion, you will find a part of your solution. Here they are:

Fear: To protect us from danger and change something.

Anger: To fight against problems.

Joy: To remind us what’s important.

Sadness: To connect us with those we love.

Trust: To connect with people who help and to open our heart.

Disgust: To reject what is unhealthy.

Anticipation: To look forward and plan.

Surprise: To focus on new situations.

Make the decision now to identify the emotions when you experience them, the moment you live them. You will thus be able to bring in that part of the brain called the neocortex to help you think well or at least to better understand what motivates you and the reasons behind it.

If you happen to be interested in discussing the subject, do not hesitate to contact us. The subject is vast and so interesting that discussing it would bring us to the second intention of this dynamic process, which is “CHOOSE YOURSELF”, the subject of our next blog article.

Finally, think of a leader who inspired you by his humility and his ability to name the emotions that drive him. Ask yourself what is it that he does so well that he was the person you immediately thought about. How does he inspire you? Take the time to answer. Modeling behaviours is an important part of how we can develop our own E.I.

In 2003, Harvard Business Review concluded an article as follows: “EI isn’t a luxury you can dispense with in tough times. It is a basic tool that deployed with finesse is the key to professional success.”

Learn more about emotion:
Vers une définition de l’émotion
The wheel of emotions, Robert Plutchik
At the Heart of Leadership: How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence, Joshua Freedman
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than I.Q., Daniel Goleman
What Makes a Leader, Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
Six Seconds

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