Clever Carly: How to Master the Art of Emotional Intelligence

How looking inward can help improve your outer self

Nice to see you again, Planners! Clever Carly here. 

Whether it’s familial pressures at home, the growing expectation to be “online” after standard business hours or just the fact that we now spend upward of five hours per day on our mobile devices, it’s no wonder that mindfulness––or shifting your attention inward to observe your thoughts and feelings––has cemented itself as a permanent practice. It’s an idea with merit: Incorporating mindful practices into meetings can enhance the well-being of participants by creating a safe, relaxing and productive environment.

As therapeutic as mindfulness can be, however, it’s not a magic pill when it comes to being a better leader. And with such an inward focus, it can be easy to neglect your surroundings. 

Enter emotional intelligence (EQ), or the extent to which an individual is able to connect and empathize with others. And while there’s no doubting your abilities as a socially adept event planner, when used in tandem with mindfulness (as a recent Harvard Business Review piece suggests), a high level of emotional intelligence can drastically improve the way you lead. 

Here are some ways to improve your EQ––and how it applies to the event-planning space. 

Conduct an internal check

Similar to how mindfulness emphasizes inward thinking, you can use introspection to enhance your emotional intelligence—namely, by trying to pinpoint what personal afflictions might be affecting those around you. 

The HBR piece spotlights an executive who noticed that his high levels of anxiety, harsh self-standards and rigid expectations were causing his colleagues to feel that same stress. Bringing awareness to those negative emotions helped the executive to better control how they were projected onto others. 

Try to conduct frequent emotional check-ins with yourself: How do I feel today? Have I felt this way before? What do I think about what is happening right now? Being present with yourself can bring hidden emotions (which could be affecting others) to the surface. 

Don’t be afraid to vocalize your fears

As a leader, you naturally want to emanate strength and wisdom. But if you keep that too-tough poker face in place for too long, you might be alienating your team. 

As HBR suggests, openly projecting your fears and vulnerabilities can help build a sense of trust and camaraderie among your team. While it’s always best to err on the side of caution when revealing information and avoiding TMI, you can bet your staff might feel more inclined to fess up to mistakes or fears if you show a bit of honesty and heart. 

Get off your phone––and write it down

As an article from Inc. suggests, some of the best methods for improving your EQ don’t involve interacting with others––but they do involve eschewing tech and picking up a pen.  

As the article emphasizes, although you might feel as though you’re “connecting” with colleagues via chat, email or social media, you’re also missing crucial emotional cues that help to build and strengthen relationships. A friendly teamwide email might make you feel as though you’re connecting with colleagues, but it could have the opposite effect. 

Similarly, start writing everything down. Penning each emotion that you’re experiencing can help you see patterns in not just yourself, but in others. Did an interaction go sour in the break room for seemingly no reason? Was a colleague particularly critical in a meeting? Sorting through the details in written form can help you pinpoint clues that might be thwarting your relationships.