Developing your emotional intelligence – part 2

If you have only just joined us in this series on Emotional Intelligence, you may want to start with reading the previous posts, starting with Part 1

Read my previous blogs on EI at

Having previously looked at how to develop the skill of RECOGNISING, let’s look now at USING – the ability to understand the impact of emotions on thinking.

Picture this scenario. You attend an Executive meeting with your boss, Sarah, and it doesn’t go well. The CEO was highly critical of a paper she had presented and leaving the meeting it is obvious that Sarah is distracted – angry even.  You have a meeting with her where you were planning on asking for a salary increase. Is now the best time? If you understand the impact of emotions on thinking, you will realise that having the discussion now is probably not going to get you the outcome you want.

Something that research has shown is that moods impact tasks in the following ways.

  • A positive mood facilitates creative thinking or brainstorming.
  • A positive mood generates new ideas and encourages us to consider new possibilities
  • Tasks that require attention to detail are best performed whilst in a neutral or slightly negative mood.
  • A negative mood provides us with clear focus and details are examined more efficiently.
  • A shift in mood can lead to innovative solutions. A great example of this is people who get their best ideas while exercising, or in the shower.

What you remember is related to mood. When you are in as good mood you are more likely to remember positive events and when you are in a bad mood you are more likely to recall negative events. Mood evokes the retrieval of similar memories.

People who are good at this skill understand how their moods impact their thinking and can shift mood to match the task. “I need to brainstorm, I’m feeling flat, so I will go for a walk first”. They also tend to be skilled at inspiring and motivating others. They focus on what is important when emotions are strong, rather than being side-tracked by the emotion.

So how can you develop your ability to use emotions?

  • Firstly, work on recognising your emotions and those of others.
  • Learn about how mood impacts task.
  • Keep a journal of your emotions, the task and the outcome. Determine whether how you were feeling helped, hindered or had no effect.
  • Practice switching moods. Find things that work for you. Music is a great mood creator as is colour.
  • Develop your emotional imagination. Think about the emotion you would like to generate, then think of a time when you felt that emotion. Focus on how it felt, physically as well as emotionally.
  • Words are powerful. Research shows that just saying “I am happy today” to yourself creates a subtle but effective shift in mood.

How do you think having this ability might improve a leaders effectiveness?

In my next blog post we will move on to UNDERSTANDING emotions.

You can measure your Emotional Intelligence using the MSCEIT (Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test).  If you are interested in taking the test please contact Ros at

Contact Ros for leadership development, coaching and facilitation, or if you have questions about the topics – or visit Shaping Change at

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