Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 15 – Optimism
This blog is the last in a series of blogs exploring Emotional Intelligence. Looking at ways to be able to develop and enhance our own perceived levels of Emotional Intelligence. I say it is the last but it is such a great subject that there will be more.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
To gain a greater understanding you can read a previous blog What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can I develop it, for more detail. However, Emotional intelligence is all about how well you understand your own emotions and the emotions of others, and the ability to identify and manage them. Emotional Intelligence, also known as “Ei” or “EQ”, is now well established set of “Competencies” that contribute to performance, engagement and success.
Their are five key areas of Emotional Intelligence, Self Perception, Self Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making and Optimism. Each of these areas has three traits. We are going to discuss each of these traits in more detail with their own blog. This week we will be exploring the trait, Optimism.
What is Optimism and the relations to Emotional Intelligence?
Optimism is our general feeling of contentment and what our overall outlook on the future is. Optimism and the optimism bias as something that I’ve been interested in for many years. I’ve been studying the different levels of optimism that people have and, you’ll be happy to know that, about 80% of us have the optimism bias.
The trait of Optimism is our general feeling of contentment and what our overall outlook on the future is. If we see it as a positive or a negative. The bias is our healthy way of getting through the bad times. It is our ability to look at the brighter side of life, keeping a positive attitude even when faced with adversity.
The bias helps us keep a tendency to overestimate our likelihood to experience good events or we underestimate our likelihood of experiencing bad events. So we would underestimate our likelihood of suffering from a serious illness or being in an accident and on the flip-side we could overestimate our prospects of winning the lottery, and still keep buying tickets. So in short we are more optimistic than realistic and can be oblivious to the facts.
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “We haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
– A.A. Milne
How much do you use the trait of Optimism?
Do you see the good in things and know that the future looks bright? Or do you spend you time wondering when the next catastrophe will happen?
When Optimism is operating well:
- Good health, successful relationships, achievement of goals
- Helpful in dealing with problems and for countering stress
- Energised by setbacks and obstacles, fuelled to overcome challenges in life
- Helps staff believe something is possible – enables them to make it happen
When Optimism is low:
- Expects and plans for the worse, feeling better when contingency plans are in place
- Can be an obstacle to problem solving, decision-making & team work
- Not as hopeful about the future as most
- Often leads to bad health
- Developing skills around Optimism
During Learning Cog’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Masterclass, starting with ‘Self-Perception’, we explain how to assess you own emotional intelligence and how to develop your EQ awareness. Here in this blog we have added some areas to think about when developing Optimism.
Here is a set of questions to help you observe someone you perceive to be very Optimistic
- Who do you know who can work through tough situations and not let it affect them?
- What language do they use?
- Do they put a positive slant on hard times?
- What do they do that shows their confidence in a positive outcome?
- How do they work with others in order to generate optimism with them?
- How do they plan for positive results?
Am I optimistic?
- Do I see a brighter future even in tough times?
- How do I use Optimism day to day?
- Am I more Optimistic in my personal life or professional life?
- How do I feel when I am Optimistic? (I can take on the world, a surge of excitement, high energy levels)
- What do I do when I feel Optimistic? (more assertive, talk with authority and conviction, have a clearer sense of purpose)
- What do other people say to me when I am being Optimistic? or being Pessimistic…
- What will other people observe of me when I am being Optimistic?
- Could I be overly optimistic?
- Do people often wonder why I don’t see any negatives?
- How do I react to overly negative people?
Thinking and Reflection
Here is an exercise for you to complete to help build your understanding of your own Optimism.
Exercise 1: Creating an Optimism Bias
Here is an activity that reflects on how you respond when confronted with an impossible yet plausible solution to a task or problem.
Take time to think about when you have recently taken an idea from someone about using a different approach to resolving a problem. What was your reaction? What language did you use? Was it… “This won’t work” or “It’s impossible” Think about as many phrases that you use to reject ideas and try to find new or more positive responses.
“It won’t work” You could try “It can work, let’s look for the best way to make it happen”
Exercise 2: Finding Optimism
Think of several situations you have been part of a group dealing with a problem where an Optimistic attitude helped to move forward with solving the problem. Now, you need to be really specific about all of the details. Who was Optimistic? What did they actually do or say? What positive impact did it have on the outcome? Did other people engage with the person being Optimistic?
Now spend some time thinking about how you can use this in the future. Use this exercise again each time Optimism helps in a situation.
It is important to actual do something when taking part in any self development. The practical is more important than the theory.
- Make a record (or carry a clicker) of how many times each day you use negative language.
- Make a record (or carry a clicker) of how many times each day you have negative thoughts.
- Over a period of time work towards them being positive and watch your progress as the number comes down.
- Realism is good, realism is not being negative. Recognise when you are being realistic and when you are being negative.
- Put every situation into perspective, don’t generalise from one situation to all situations.
- Think of positive outcomes to situations before you think negatively.
- List some positive affirmations and say them out loud every day.
- Remember, your negative self talk is just your view of the event, it isn’t always the reality.
- Try not to be too serious about things in general.
- Surround yourself with positive thinkers.
- If you find you are in a group and it is getting negative try to make it positive or avoid that group.
- Be aware of what makes you feel good and why.
- Practice trying to see things from others perspective.
- Challenge your negative thoughts, put them to the test and see if they stick around.
- Set an example of being positive.
The more time you spend observing yourself and the people around you, the more you develop your Optimism. Give yourself time, it may feel mechanical, clumsy and awkward at first, but with practice it will become quick and easy and automatic. Why not get in touch and talk to us more about developing Emotional Intelligence in yourself, your Leadership Team or your whole business. firstname.lastname@example.org
Read previous blogs:
1 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 1 – Self Regard
2 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 2 – Self Actualisation
3 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 3 – Emotional Self Awareness
4 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 4 – Emotional Expression
5 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 5 – Assertiveness
6 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 6 – Independence
7 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 7 – Social Responsibility
8 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 8 – Empathy
9 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 9 – Interpersonal Relationships
10 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 10 – Problem Solving
11 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 11 – Reality Testing
12 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 12 – Impulse Control
13 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 13 – Flexibility
14 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 14 – Stress Management