COVID-19 is officially one of the most destructive diseases in modern times. Businesses and schools have shut down. Tens of thousands of people are ordered to stay home. Sporting events, both local and global, have been canceled and rescheduled.
How did your organization respond? Were you immediately ordered to work from home? Take time off? Conduct business as usual? Or, perhaps you are the leader in the organization and you struggle to find the right words to say as panic and concern continues to grow. Either way, the question on everyone’s mind right now is: what is the best course of action at the present moment?
When facing an unprecedented challenge, it’s difficult to know what the best response will be. One quick search on Amazon for disinfectant wipes or even toilet paper (at the time of this writing) tells you that many have decided to respond with panic— ordering more than needed in a desperate attempt to feel prepared for something that we are, in many ways, completely unprepared for.
I received one email from the president of a local college at the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic that included this advice:
We are quickly realizing across the world how interconnected we truly are. My actions directly affect you. We are in this together.
If I could have one for the human population during the current crisis (in addition to washing our hands regularly and covering our mouths when we cough), it would be to use this time to strengthen our ability to adapt to changing situations and to better understand and connect with those around us. All of this is possible through improving our Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
EQ is defined as: “the ability to understand how your and others’ emotions and needs shape your interactions, and to regulate your responses accordingly.”
What a powerful ability to use as uncertainty and anxiety mounts in response to the current crisis. We all have needs and emotions that can influence how we react, but an emotionally intelligent person can intercept those reactions before their emotions take control. They can step back and take a look at what’s going on beneath the surface. This power allows them to pause, reflect, and choose the best response for the current moment.
I can’t think of a better time to actively take up the call to respond with empathy, or to remain objective and composed when faced with a situation that could cause fear, panic, and uncertainty in those around us, who we count on. Thankfully, EQ is something we can work on and improve over time.
Everything DiSC® Agile EQ™ is one tool that is tackling the development of emotional intelligence in a new and unique way. Instead of receiving the four common EQ scores for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, Agile EQ helps you identify opportunities to improve your Emotional Intelligence through understanding mindsets. These are the patterns of responses that you are mostly likely to take in an emotional or social situation.
We all have our favorite ways of responding to a situation. One of my go-to mindsets, for instance, is being “Resolute.”
I can think of countless times when my response to a situation was to stand my ground and push through any resistance. I do this all the time! But were there times when I decided to push through perceived opposition when I should have instead focused on listening and understanding the needs and thoughts of others? Absolutely.
In times of stress, it’s easier for us to rely on the mindsets that come most naturally to us. If I feel stressed or threatened, I may cling to this Resolute mindset that I’ve used and counted on many times before. Afterall, our mindsets aren’t something we simply picked out one day. Rather, they are uniquely positioned to meet our underlying behavioral needs.
For instance, you may be someone in the “i” region of the DiSC map who craves acceptance and connection with others. It seems natural, then, that you might default to an “Outgoing” mindset. Unlike my Resolute mindset, someone with an Outgoing mindset will focus on maintaining relationships and expressing their emotions. This helps them meet and maintain that underlying need for connection.
Once we understand our needs and how they influence our EQ strengths (or our “go-to” mindsets), then we can begin to look at our EQ opportunities – those other available responses to a situation that we may often leave on the table.
If you’ve taken an EQ assessment, I encourage you to look at your EQ strengths and opportunities. Take a moment to reflect on how they apply to the current climate at home, at work, and in the world. How have you been responding? Have you relied only on your strengths, or have you been stretching yourself to use other responses that better meet the needs of rapidly changing situations and of others around you?
The world needs people who can adapt and lead. We need leaders and individuals everywhere who can rise to meet the situation instead of letting their emotions control their response. With emotional intelligence comes the power to choose your response, to manage your emotions, and to be there for others who may need your support. And, if we all do this, we have a greater chance of getting through any situation that we might encounter.