Emotional Intelligence & Etiquette: Self-Management

This is the third article in a series written by Richard Cullinan, Head of the EQ Faculty at The British School of Etiquette. 

How self-management skills improve our performance in polite society:

Self-management is a key personal competency in emotional intelligence and not only impacts the way our emotions affect our brain’s performance but also defines the way we manage our emotions and behaviour.

Our brains work via the transmission of electro-chemicals between brain cells. Messages are transmitted from one cell to another and chemicals are released between cells ensuring the smooth transmission of these messages.

When we are optimistic, happy, kind and friendly, these positive emotional states produce neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin which speed up the transmission of messages between brain cells and allow our brains to function easily, quickly and flexibly.

When we live in an inner world of anger, despair, anxiety, stress, pessimism and cynicism our brain produces inhibiting chemicals like cortisol which becomes “bad fuel” for our brains and slows down the transmission of messages between brain cells.

To ensure our brains function harmoniously we also need to ensure we live a healthy lifestyle. Not having a good night’s sleep, for example, makes us prone to mood swings, forgetfulness, restlessness and anxiety which all impact negatively on our behaviour and ability to communicate in a kind and effective way.

A good night’s sleep helps you to be calmer, more direct and more flexible in dealing with yourself, your tasks and people during the day. It also helps your body to restore depleted resources and repair damaged cells. It makes your mind more receptive to thinking critically and creatively, learning effectively, concentrating and remembering things like people’s names when you are socialising or taking a meeting.

Another way to ensure your brain functions at an optimal level is to do regular exercise and stretching. It is not only good for you, it releases the “good fuel” chemicals like endorphins and serotonin which also make you feel good. Your brain also loves a good break from your mind!

Eating the right foods and consuming the right liquids are also key to not only your physical health but also to the way you process your emotions which will have an impact on your mindset and behaviour.

Self-management means having a growth mindset and developing a desire to look and learn rather than trying to look smart. Developing an attitude of learning also helps us to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see personal effort as the path to mastery and to welcome and learn from criticism.

The way we deal with stress, anger, worry and anxiety will ultimately determine the way we cope with life and our interactions with other people. By taking control of our negative self-talk and managing our impulses we are less likely to interrupt people when they are talking and more likely to develop a genuine curiosity about other people’s cultures, societies and customs.

Self-management is about exercising self-control. It is when you observe a pause between reacting to something someone says or does that might upset you and give your brain the lag time it needs to respond in an appropriate and effective way. When you practice this way of thinking until it becomes a habit you will find your interactions with other people are simply transformed and the inner satisfaction you get from being in control of your impulses will increase your confidence.

Here are a few ways you can improve your self-management skills:

• Be happy on purpose so that your brain can function in an agile and flexible way
• Take care of your lifestyle which will have a direct impact on your physical and emotional health
• Look to learn so you can embrace challenges, overcome setbacks, accept criticism and grow into the best version of yourself

If you are interested in improving your emotional intelligence, take a look at the three courses we offer by clicking on this link 

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