A Reporter's Take: Managing My Own Emotional Intelligence

Posted by Kealey Bultena on

“That’s terrifying. I don’t think I want to know!”

I said that probably half a dozen times while talking with leaders in law enforcement training about an emotional intelligence quiz. The multi-choice assessment South Dakota uses for recruits is brief, but it’s telling. I’m uncomfortable considering an objective glimpse into my emotional skills… or lack thereof.

That seems to be a decent indication that I should take the test.

It took only a few clicks, and then I sighed. It appears to be pretty accurate. The survey gauges four competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Want to know too much about my personal emotional skills? See below. 

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I can’t argue with this. I’m confident I read myself and others well. I’ve also felt the consequences of reacting quickly or sharply instead of adjusting my response to the circumstance. A broad description of self-management in “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” includes the following: “Real results come from putting your momentary needs on hold to pursue larger, more important goals.” Ugh. That sure hits home.

Allow me to play defense for a moment. I have a strong personality. I’m outgoing, and I’m not afraid to talk to pretty much anyone. I find value in contributing to conversations. I’m the one squirming in my chair when a presenter solicits questions and people stare quietly. It’s excruciating! I process ideas by discussing them with others – not thinking about them in my own mind. My tendency to lead can be an asset, and I’ve come to embrace my talkative nature. I do not apologize for who I am. 

That stated, this is not an excuse to perpetuate detrimental behavior. I don’t want to change who I am to make everyone else happy, because I’m afraid to lose the parts of my personality that make me Kealey. Talking with law enforcement recruits and their trainers helped me understand something I’ve resisted. It is possible to remain steadfast and assured in my personal attributes and practice better self-management. 

It’s one thing to confess that revelation, and it’s another to put it into practice. The book next to me lays out 17 strategies to improve self-management. They seem like simple solutions, which likely means they’re ridiculously hard to implement consistently. My next move is to decide on one to start. That way I can genuinely dedicate effort in a precise direction and see how situations change.

One of the tenets to improving self-management is “Make your goals public.” I’m counting this as a baby step.

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