Using Emotional Intelligence to Be Intentional

Yoga - Improve Your Emotional Intelligence & Self-Awareness

By: Maggie Sass, Executive VP of Applied Research at TalentSmartEQ

Yoga for enhancing emotional intelligence: Take 2 minutes in Savasana for relaxation and integration

I took a yoga class last week and at the end of the session the instructor turned off the lights and told us to take 2 minutes in savasana, a big part of almost every yoga tradition and commonly used to end a session, with a focus on relaxation and integration. As I laid on the floor, my mind raced. Every inch of me wanted to get up and get going; I could feel the tension rising as I started to run through my to-do list for the day. But then I thought to myself, I have 2 minutes.

So many of us are hyper-connected, working harder, working longer hours, many of us still in flux with hybrid or remote environments without a clear sense of what work life integration will look like a year from now. What I remembered in that moment at the end of my class is the importance of what I can control and what is possible in 2 minutes.

Korn Ferry is calling this a year where we are intentional about change. 2020 and 2021 were years of unplanned change; they required individuals and organizations to be responsive, if not downright reactive. This year is the year of intentionality, so here are some ways I am working to be more intentional, especially about how I spend my time.

1. Building a resilience bank account

When I facilitated leadership development courses I used to talk to managers and leaders about the importance of resilience. The challenge for a lot of us is that when first starting a resilience practice, the results are invisible. Your sleep doesn’t magically get better, your relationships don’t get deeper overnight, and stress doesn’t disappear. Resilience practice is like building a retirement portfolio when you are in your first job. When you first start making money it seems crazy to sacrifice what little income you are making to a retirement account that shows relatively little return in the short term. But over time, compound interest turns that sacrifice into something you can really see and use. The same thing is true about resilience work. In the beginning it might feel really challenging to find time to dedicate to resilience in an already overpacked schedule. But if you continue to gift yourself 2 minutes here and 2 minutes there, it adds up and starts to multiply. Eventually, you have a resilience shield large enough to protect yourself against work and personal crises, when you need it most.

  • Try this: Take 2 minutes at the beginning or end of your day to build your resilience bank account. You can do word puzzles, text a friend or loved one, sit quietly and just practice being present. Try just noticing the sound of your breath and the sounds around you. Jane McGonigal, a gamer and researcher, has a number of recommended resilience activities to help build your social, mental, emotional, and physical resilience.

2. Focusing on stress management

I am not sure about all of you, but I can feel the compounded stress of the last couple of years. Add to that the uncertainty about what 2022 will bring for my work, my team, and my family. Even on my best days, I find myself more easily frustrated by the small things. The other day my husband said something while we were recapping the day that really irked me. Even though I was frustrated I decided not to respond because I wasn’t sure if sharing my emotion was going to serve us in that moment. I excused myself and went to my home office (and by home office I mean the guest room/home office/supply closet/actual closet/gift wrapping station) lit a candle, took some deep breaths, and gave myself permission to be mad, and also permission to reflect on the situation and talk to him about it later. As someone who prides myself in being results and action oriented it took me about 35 years to realize that with emotions, sometimes the best first step is to do nothing.

  • Try this: A big part of being skilled at self-management is knowing how to make emotions work for you. When you find yourself in a hard or stressful situation, steal my strategy and take a couple of deep breaths. Taking a break from a hard conversation, taking some deep breaths, counting to 10 – whether with a partner, a child, or a colleague – are all strategies that can help you see the situation with some perspective and can help you from reacting emotionally in a way that you don’t want or have as much control over. How could these strategies change your brand at work or change how you connect with your family or friends?

3. Microwork

As a graduate student working to finish my dissertation, I experimented with ways of researching and writing. My bias was that I needed 8 uninterrupted hours of time to dig into data and actually turn out pages. I quickly discovered that didn’t work for me. Not only could I rarely find a full day to dedicate to writing, but on the rare occasion I did, I found myself on my phone, organizing my closet, and generally getting distracted by almost anything – researchers call it the chain of diversions. Basically, I would get interrupted and then find myself so far down a vortex into a social media channel or some other distraction that I didn’t remember what I was doing. For those of you who have the time and preference for long stretches of focus work, amazing. For a lot of us, especially during an even further fragmented time in many of our lives, figuring out how to make real progress on important projects – at work and in life – requires that we are intentional about how we spend our time, even the small chunks. Microsoft has been researching this idea of microproductivity or using micromoments to get tasks done for years and even though it isn’t always easy, I have found that 2 minutes here or 6 minutes there, when intentionally focused, can add up and really help get you were you need to go.

Try this: Part of self-awareness is in knowing yourself and what you need to be successful. Use the month of February for microexperiments of micromoments. How intentional can you be about capturing small chunks of time to do things you need and want to do? What are these small chunks best used to do?

How are you planning to be intentional in 2022? Share Your Intention.


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