Keys To Emotional Intelligence In High-Stress Situations

Keys To Emotional Intelligence In High-Stress Situations

Do you often find yourself in stressful situations where managing your emotions becomes challenging? You are certainly not alone in having trouble with managing emotions, since all of us are prone to reacting without much thought. 

We feel overwhelmed when unaware of our emotional triggers. The ability to identify and effectively manage emotions is called emotional intelligence (EI). The term was popularized in the ‘90s by psychologist and behavioral scientist, Dr. Daniel Goleman. 

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learnt

Unlike intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned. People with higher EI are likelier to succeed in their personal and professional relationships. Leaders with strong EI skills communicate openly, solve conflicts effectively, make sound decisions, and manage with empathy.

Here are the keys to observing emotional intelligence in almost any situation:


It would be hubristic to think we know all there is to know about ourselves. Often, we will say things we don’t actually mean or overreact disproportionately and ensnare ourselves in chaos. 

Coping with high-stress situations, like workplace conflicts, salary negotiations, business deals, or getting your boss to see the things from your end, requires a deeper understanding of our emotions. 

Self-awareness is the ability to identify and deeply understand our own emotions. The more we are aware of our emotional triggers, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and personal shortcomings, the better we are at managing ourselves emotionally. 

Self-awareness is the first step on your journey toward becoming a master of your emotions. There are many ways to increase self-awareness and manage your emotional triggers: observing your own behaviors, noticing when you are reactionary, and seeking candid feedback at home and at work are great ways to start. 

If you want to learn more about emotional and mental health, and later use your expertise to help others through counseling, you may want to pursue one of the CACREP accredited counseling programs, which will equip you with the credentials necessary to get into full-time counseling. 

Let’s mention now some proven strategies for Improving self-awareness:

  • Observing how you react in certain situations
  • Identifying your own behavior patterns 
  • Identifying your emotional triggers
  • Seeking feedback


Once you have gathered enough insight through personal observation, outside feedback, and scientific research, you will identify a pattern in your behaviors and actions. Managing our reactions and controlling how we deal with different situations is called self-management. 

You can only manage your emotions when you are fully aware of them. Therefore, take steps toward expanding your self-awareness as much as you can. 

Self-management is the key to strategically managing behavioral patterns discovered through self-awareness. For example, you can identify your emotional and mental triggers right before a presentation or a public speaking event: sweaty palms, faster heartbeat, and dry mouth are signs of panic and anxiety. 

Now, that you are aware, you can take certain actions to reduce your anxiety and feel better: Take deep breaths, strike a power pose, or take time out to meditate. 

The following are the tips for improving emotional self-management:

  • Pause before reacting 
  • Break the harmful behavior patterns
  • Meditate
  • Journal

Social Awareness

Emotional intelligence goes beyond simple self-awareness and self-management, however, and includes social awareness, which is the ability to identify emotions in others as well. 

We need to understand how others react in certain situations to improve the quality of our personal and professional relationships. Lack of social awareness can lead to problems in our interpersonal relations with others. 

One important aspect of social awareness is the knowledge of how our conduct impacts others around us. For example, a leader with poor social awareness will be unable to decipher his team’s attitudes and promulgate policies that might result in bringing down the team’s morale and productivity. 

Social awareness can be improved through the following:

  • Observe the people around you
  • Observe their body language and non-verbal cues 
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Practice active listening

Relationship Management

Relationship management is the art of dealing with people according to their moods, habits, triggers, and personality traits. High social awareness will result in producing insights into people’s moods and thoughts, which you can then use to build quality relations with others. Therefore, social awareness precedes relationship management. 

Relationship management skills are of significance, especially in crises. You cannot manage emotions in other people if you lack control over your own. 

Arguments, crises, and unforeseen events are inevitable and cannot be avoided. However, they can certainly be dealt with in a thoughtful and emotionally-detached manner.

Practice relation management by:

  • Understanding the situation before reacting
  • Knowing what triggers others
  • Communicate clearly


Empathy is your ability to see things from someone else’s perspective, not only in a logical way but in an emotional way as well. 

Unlike sympathy, empathy promotes compassion and fosters a sense of care and consideration for others. Those who are emotionally intelligent have a high level of empathy, which makes them relatable and kind human beings.


Motivation is the sense of being self-driven in achieving your goals. A self-motivated person turns to himself for encouragement instead of seeking outside validation. 

Motivation is an important trait of an emotionally intelligent person, as it enables one to depend on himself rather than on others. 

Self-motivated people are confident, focused, and remain optimistic through tough times. Motivate the people around you by instilling positivity and value in your interactions with them. 


Communication is a two-way process that enables two or more individuals to understand each other’s points of view. 

People with emotional intelligence know that for relationships to thrive, good communication has to be given its importance. 

Lack of communication underlies workplace and personal conflicts. People who fail to express their concerns are more likely to feel frustrated. Relationships sour when communication dies down, leading to unnecessary drama and conflicts. 

Final Thoughts

The quality of our life and relationships depends on our ability to effectively manage our own and others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence enables us to take charge of our emotions, rather than letting them handle the reins of our lives. The above-mentioned strategies will prove to be useful if you want to hone your emotional intelligence. 

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