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Focal point - Mind over matter

Nadine Haughton

Just in case you haven't heard, employees are seeking to recruit workers that have high levels of emotional intelligence. With most people being unfamiliar with the concept, it is no wonder little emphasis has been placed on development in this area.

In a nutshell, emotional intelligence speaks to the ability or level of intelligence necessary to manage your emotions and those of others with whom you work or interact; to evaluate these emotions and use the information to guide your actions.

Ten second rule
Perhaps the best way to look at emotional intelligence is to think of the 'count to 10' rule. The 10 seconds, it is said, allows you to not only think before you act, but better yet, think before you speak. In the age of instant messaging, it is critical to take that time out, rather than to begin pounding away at the keyboard and hitting that "send" button before stopping to evaluate the situation and making a rational response decision. Please bear in mind the same thing applies to texting.

I can refer to past office experiences, where emails became all-out online battles between multiple parties that ended only when a senior executive or the most emotionally intelligent person in the lot brought it to an abrupt end with one calming statement. In an office setting, you never want to be a part of such a scenario. Your aim is to strive at all times to operate on the side of reason. One interesting thing I have learnt is that the 10 second rule is flawed, as it actually takes (biologically) 17 seconds for your brain and all necessary impulses to react sufficiently for you to become rational.

Extend this rule if you would, though, to interactions in your daily life. We can immediately see that relationships could be saved much pain if both parties were able to stop before releasing that dreaded statement. Road rage would be drastically reduced if we stopped to think about what the other person might be experiencing at the moment and the feelings of many would be spared if the 17 second rule could be applied to even 50 per cent of our interactions.

In this world of instant gratification, emotional intelligence requires practice. The best recommendation is that you evaluate at the end of each day, your reaction to every situation that you were in. Decide if your feelings were guided by any underlying factors (past grudges, childhood experiences or assumptions or fears about certain individuals or situations). Assess whether your reaction was justified and make a "note to self" to take that 17 seconds next time.

For additional help, visit Take the test. Be honest, you might just surprise yourself.

Nadine Haughton is marketing director at The Brand Warriors, she can be contacted at

What is emotional intelligence

The key areas of emotional intelligence are often debated, but experts agree they fall in the following categories:

Taking stock of self/recognising your feelings

Understanding the cause of the feeling and deciding how to handle it

Exercising self control

Appreciating that others might feel differently about the situation

Having the social skills to manage others

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