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Emotional Intelligence in Practice - Self-Awareness

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

As an Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, I am regularly asked – ‘What is the most important Emotional Intelligence (EI) skill to develop?’ or, ‘Which EI skill should I focus on first?’

My answer is always the same; Self-awareness.

Self-Awareness is a fundamental skill of emotionally intelligent behaviour. Without creating a deeper understanding of our own levels of Self-Awareness, it is near impossible to enhance any of the other EI skills.

So what is Self-Awareness?

Self-Awareness is the skill of being able to recognise, in the moment;

  • What you are feeling

  • Why you are feeling it, and most importantly,

  • Is what I am feeling right now going to help or hinder me?

Am I Self-Aware?

Many of the people I coach will tell me that they consider themselves self-aware. The reality can actually be quite different. According to Dr Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0; ‘Only 36 percent of the people we’ve tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. This means that two thirds of us are typically controlled by our emotions and are not yet skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit.’

How do I enhance my Self-awareness?

The first aspect to recognise is that emotions are a source of important information for us. We do not need to consider emotions as being good or bad, right or wrong. When considering our emotions, we should ask ourselves; is this emotion helping or hindering me at this moment? If the emotion you are experiencing is not going to help you at that moment, you can consciously decide to shift that emotion. By way of example, consider the strong emotion of rage. Rage is unlikely to be appropriate or able to help you while driving your car or during an interaction in a meeting. However, if you are in a life threatening situation, then rage may be the emotion that enables you to save your life or the lives of others.

Try these strategies

  • Practice self-reflection regularly

Once a week, sit down with pen and paper and write all the emotions you recall feeling in the last 24 hours. The most important aspect of this exercise is to not judge the emotions you experienced. Simply ask yourself, did that emotion help or hinder me at that time?

  • Feel your emotions physically

Particularly when you notice emotions that could be perceived as negative; such as stress, frustration or worry, stop and consider what is occurring in your body at that time. Are your fists or jaw clenched? Are your shoulders tight or your brow furrowed? By taking the time to do this, you will soon recognise your emotions 'in the moment' before you may have been conscious of these feelings

Interested in learning more?

Would you like to develop your own emotional intelligence or the EI of your team members or organisation? Then feel free to contact me (Rachel) by email at Rachel Moore Consulting –

I am an experienced Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, Trainer and Coach. I work with individuals and teams to develop their self-management and relationship management skills allowing them to improve their professional performance and career success.

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