The Importance of Emotional Self-Awareness in Business

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Epictetus said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters".

When you're not emotionally self-aware, you run the risk of reacting poorly to a work situation because of an emotional response. In some cases, there can be serious ramifications. When you are emotionally self-aware, others will notice and may even follow your example which makes you a valuable asset.

Emotional self-awareness is noticing and being able to label your feelings, emotions, “gut-level” instincts or reactions; being able to connect these to their source; recognizing their effects on your mind and your body; using your feelings as a valuable source of insight and information about yourself, others and the situations around you.

People that are emotionally self-aware:
  • Know which emotions they are feeling and why
  • Realize, in the moment, the links between their feelings and what they think, do and say
  • Recognize how their feelings affect their performance
  • Are able to articulate their feelings and appropriately express them
  • Can tell – in the moment – when they are getting upset


People that are NOT emotionally self-aware:
  • May experience chronic headaches, lower back pain, neck or shoulder pain, heart racing, sweaty palms, anxiety attacks or other signals from their body, but generally don’t pay attention to these signals or connect them to their source, to what’s causing these physical symptoms
  • Fail to gain insight and information from what their bodies might be trying to tell them
  • Get irritated, frustrated or angry easily, causing them to treat people in an abrasive way
  • Fail to see that what they are doing or being asked to do might not be aligned with their personal and professional goals and values
  • Often feel stressed and out of balance in terms of their work life, health and family


Development tips
  • Regularly check in on your feelings. Schedule reminders throughout the day to check–in on your emotional state as well as what your body might be feeling or trying to tell you
  • If you find yourself clenching your teeth, tensing your shoulders, feeling worn out or worn down, stop and ask yourself what your body is trying to tell you – are you feeling strained? Stressed? Anxious? Fearful? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Burned out?
  • Name your emotions and connect them specifically to a source or to a situation, concern, or issue
  • “Listen” to what your emotions might be telling you in that moment
  • Use the information that bubbles up from inside, listen to your intuition to gain insight that could guide you in dealing with the issue or challenge
  • Take the time to be introspective, to listen to that quiet inner voice Put aside some of your goal-oriented activities and think. Take long walks, know your core values, and especially stop thinking of your emotions as irrelevant or messy. Our emotions are an essential source of valuable information.

*Source: Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence Toolkit


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