Five tips for navigating change with emotional intelligence

Three small children line up in super hero costumes on the hill.

Life is change. But it’s not always easy. It helps if you have some key emotional intelligence skills.

Tip #1: awareness of feelings

Become more aware of your feelings about the changes. Make it a point to do regular “gut checks.” What exactly are the feelings? And what exactly are they in response to? How are you thinking about the changes that is causing you to feel the way you do about them? What if you were to think differently about them? What are all the possible different ways of looking at the changes? Explore the changes from many perspectives and explore your feelings from many perspectives as well. Then see Tip #4.

Tip #2: chart your stress

It’s normal for changes to add stressors to your life. Keep track of it. Having a strategy to deal with change, means in part, having a strategy to deal with your stress. And this means understanding when you’re reaching the fatigue that is an indicator that you are approaching burnout. Check out the “Yerkes-Dodson Stress Performance Curve” also known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law or Inverted-U Theory. Know your optimal stress level and what to do when it’s influencing your performance in a negative way. Look to self-care tactics such as taking frequent breaks, eating right, exercise, and getting enough sleep, add activities like yoga and meditation.

Tip #3: don’t forget empathy

During times of change, it’s important to remember that you are not the only one experiencing life challenges. Other people are struggling to cope with change. An interesting thing happens when we shift our focus off of our own issues and turn our attention and our compassion to others who are having a hard time. Not only are we not ruminating on our own stress, we experience the good feelings that come with supporting someone else.

Tip #4: find people to share your feelings with

Having frank conversations with others can help you share the burden of your feelings about the changes. This requires vulnerability and some risk on your part. But the payoffs are great. This will deepen your relationships by showing that you can relate with others who are affected by the changes. When we allow others to get to know more about how we are feeling we allow them to get to really know us and it deepens trust and connection.

Tip #5: practice optimism

How you think about the changes determines how you feel about the changes. We mostly feel angry, irritated, or annoyed by changes that are out of our control because of how we think we will be negatively affected. There may be negative effects, but if you can’t do anything about the changes, what about trying to think about what might be positive about them. Do these changes create opportunities that weren’t there before? What are the benefits of the changes? Can I focus on all the good things that will result from these changes? This is what change champions do. They are the ones who are able to demonstrate enthusiasm for the changes, which is contagious, and help others to see the positive benefits of the changes, which reduces resistance and leads to more positive outcomes.

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