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The Foundation of Emotional Intelligence

Leading coalitions is a lot like caregiving. We check in with our partners, assess how they are participating and engaging, answer questions and find ways to connect them to one another. We may serve as facilitators, mediators and conflict-resolution specialists. While these are important Emotional Intelligence practices, if we are going to do them well, we have to start with spending time reflecting, understanding and managing our own emotions. Last week, I shared four aspects of Emotional Intelligence that are important in coalition building. Today, we are going to focus on three ways that we can practice the first two: Self Awareness and Self Management.


Although finding time for reflection may seem impossible, this is an essential first step in becoming more aware of our emotions, naming them and considering how we are managing them. This reflection time could include a walk or run, writing in a journal or notebook or sitting in silence with a cup of coffee or tea. As you become more self aware, you will know which of these work best for you to do in reflection. You may also want to try a combination of them or something different. An important aspect of reflection is that you are doing what works for you rather than what other people think you should be doing. One of my favorite reflection practices happens for one hour on Friday mornings. If the weather is tolerable, I will go for a walk around my neighborhood and then sit and write my thoughts in a google doc. I call this my “thinking time” and it allows me to practice naming, understanding and reflecting on how I am managing my emotions. If you are looking for some questions, check out my first blog post of 2023 for some ideas.


One of the best ways to develop and refine self awareness and self management is to ask trusted friends and colleagues. You may also want to ask a partnership or workgroup member who will provide constructive feedback. You can begin by letting them know that you are working to grow in self awareness and self management and that you would appreciate their insight on areas that are working well and areas that could be improved. If you are responsible for facilitating coalition meetings, you can ask them how they thought the meeting went and if there are ways that you appeared to recognize and manage your own emotions. You can also ask for feedback on how well you recognized what was happening with others and how they thought the interactions went during the meeting. If you have a particular area during your reflection time you would like to feedback on, this is a great time to have that discussion. Let the person know that you recognized something in yourself and you are working to better understand and manage your emotions in this area. When you ask these questions, be ready to listen and learn. Also, remember to only ask these kinds of questions with those who are trusted friends, colleagues and partners so that the conversation can be constructive and supportive.


Learn from your reflection and discussion time. Pay attention to others who are demonstrating high levels of self awareness and self management and consider how you want to develop your skills further. Although some of us have higher levels of self awareness and self management than others, we all have room to grow in this area. As a matter of fact, one of the “red flags” associated with someone who is not very self aware is that they are overly confident and dogmatic about their self awareness. 🙂 When you are able to walk in humility and a willingness to learn and grow, you will continue to develop and refine your self awareness and self management skills that will help you lead your coalition, partnerships and teams well.

If you would like a resource to help you to reflect and practice Self Awareness and Self Management, check out my free reflection worksheet, Emotional Intelligence and Coalition Building.

Photo by Nick Page on Unsplash

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