Why Naming Emotions Is Such a Powerful Leadership Skill

Some of the most powerful ways to increase your emotional intelligence (EQ) are also the simplest. Naming your emotions might sound like a kindergarten exercise, but it can have a profound effect on your leadership skills.

Imagine that you are leading your first kickoff sales meeting at a company you joined six months ago. An outside vendor half-jokingly comments that your projections are so ambitious, you’ll never meet them if you had two years to do it – but good luck!

“I just got punched in the gut with his comment,” you might think. “That was humiliating and disrespectful!”

What you just did is a critical skill. Leaders with high EQ remain unemotional in a situation like the one described above. By identifying what emotions you are feeling and not responding with them, you used your emotions to help you, not hinder you – and that’s exactly what my definition of EQ states.

When you name the emotions you’re feeling, the emotions lose their power over you. Acknowledge the emotions, and you can stay present and focused on the task at hand.

Once the meeting is over, you can talk to the vendor privately. “When you said our sales numbers are so pie-in-the-sky we’ll never meet them, I felt humiliated and disrespected. If you have questions or concerns, you can always talk to me – in a private setting.”

While you practice naming your emotions, you can also work to increase your emotional vocabulary. The latest neuroscience research shows that the more words we have to describe our emotions, the more equipped we are to identify and express what we’re feeling and remove its power over us.

Want to increase your emotional vocabulary? To celebrate EQ Month, we are giving away a gift each week, and this week it’s a Wheel of Emotions. Email us, and we’ll send you the document for printing.

Want to get your Emotional Intelligence baseline score? Enter a drawing to win a free EQi 2.0 assessment and a 90 minute debrief with Joan – a $600 value! Simply email us to put your name in the drawing. We will draw the name of one person on October 30th.

Joan Fletcher