5 Things People With Emotional Intelligence Do When Their Buttons Are Pushed

When you clash with difficult people at work, how do you manage your emotions?

Do you work with people who display emotional intelligence? Better yet, do you display your own emotional intelligence (EQ) when working with others? I’ve experienced my fair share of conflict and drama in the workplace — some of it brought on by me.

That’s where EQ does its best work; it has helped me with my own decision-making abilities and in managing relationships with others. Since most of us are in the “people business” — whether you work in close quarters to collaborate and innovate, or are in a customer-facing role — raising your EQ is a rather crucial skill to develop for success.

So when things get a little hairy due to opposing personalities, larger than life egos, and a stressful environment at work, what do you do when your buttons are pushed? Well, hopefully nothing that would immediately burn bridges or kill your reputation.

Here’s what you’ll find people with emotional intelligence masterfully doing to cope with handling other people’s crap.

1. They respond instead of react.

As leaders, when we stomp on the war path for revenge against some real or perceived corporate wrongdoing, and we react in anger, we are being impulsive, shortsighted, and usually not making decisions in our “right minds.”

In reacting in the heat of the moment, you may end up clouding your thinking and judgment and escalate what should’ve been a manageable dispute into an all-out war with someone reacting back with equal or greater force. Bad move.

But by responding, rather than reacting, emotionally-intelligent people step back, create space to consider the situation from all angles, and decide the best approach to handle things.

2. They use their patience for advantage.

People with emotional intelligence have the learned capacity to process a situation about to go south, get perspective, listen to someone they disagree with without judgment, and hold back from reacting head on.

In practicing the virtue of patience, it may mean making the decision to sit on your decision. By thinking it over things with a rational and level-headed mind, you’ll eventually arrive at another, more sane conclusion.

3. They rise above it all by displaying self-control.

People with emotional intelligence avoid the temptation of reacting with force because they are more interested in making peace than taking someone down. Because they regulate their emotions so well, you won’t find them reacting from an over-inflated and bruised ego with a sarcastic comeback or put down.

In emotional intelligence, self-control (or “self-management”) is a personal competence developed and practiced by people seeking to diffuse conflict to a positive outcome. Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author, Daniel Goleman, says this about leaders with self-control:

“Reasonable people–the ones who maintain control over their emotions–are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.”

4. They look at the whole picture with self-awareness.

People with emotional intelligence look at both sides of the issue and tap into their feelings and those of others to choose a different, and better, outcome. Quoting Daniel Goleman again, he says this about self-awareness:

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

5. They diffuse conflict with compassion.

This is where I usually lose people. Compassion is too soft! I hear so many managers object. But choosing a compassionate response to solving an interpersonal problem, instead of wielding the power baton and hitting the other person over the head into submission, will save relationships and solve problems faster.

The next time someone is pushing your buttons and things are going south, here’s a way to positively blow that person away with your response. Try asking, “Are you OK? What’s going on?” Then…just…listen.

What comes next may surprise you. You will most likely open up the door for the other person to explain the issue behind the issue. Now you have arrived at another great opportunity: to diffuse a situation through open discourse.

Author|Marcel Schwantes

This Article was originally published in INC