Written by Josh Fisher

The other day, a seemingly frustrating event involving my daughter turned into an insightful episode, perfectly illustrating the essence of emotional intelligence. My daughter discovered a can of pink spray paint and decided her skateboard was due for a makeover. I arranged for her to work in the yard, shook the can for her, handed it over, and then went back inside.

When I returned to check on her progress, I immediately noticed a bold, pink circle on the driveway. My initial reaction was frustration, but when I asked her why she painted the driveway, she simply said, “Dad, I had an intrusive thought, and I couldn’t control it.” All I could do was step back, smile, and laugh at her candidness. At that moment, her self-awareness and the critical importance of self-management struck me.

This incident underscored for me the crucial role of self-management in emotional intelligence. No matter how aware we are of our emotions and impulses, our ability to manage them dictates our effectiveness in any situation.

If you are looking to improve your self-management skills, here are three steps to take:

Practice Mindful Reflection: After experiencing strong emotions, take a moment to reflect on what triggered those feelings. Think about how you reacted and what you might do differently next time. This practice helps us learn from our experiences and better control our reactions.

Develop a Response Strategy: Prepare strategies in advance for managing emotional responses. Strategies can include taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or temporarily removing yourself from a stressful situation to gather your thoughts. A plan can help prevent impulsive behaviors and ensure more thoughtful, deliberate responses.

Seek Feedback and Reassess: Regularly ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or friends about how they see you handle emotional situations. Use this feedback to reassess your self-management strategies and adjust as necessary. Continuous improvement in handling emotional situations can lead to better personal and professional relationships.

Like my daughter with the pink spray paint, life often presents us with challenges. Remember, managing your responses well in challenging situations can make all the difference in your effectiveness as a leader.

Founded in 2004, Lead Star is the company behind New York Times best-sellers SPARKLeading from the Front, and Bet on You. Lead Star supports professionals to reach new levels of success through its innovative coaching programs.