• Linda R. Taliaferro

Know Who You Are and How You Affect Others

Emotional intelligence is typically classed as a “soft skill,” but it’s a quality that is professionally essential but difficult to define. In my opinion, the most important type of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, if you want to establish your unique persona and your brand.


Simply put, self-awareness means understanding who you are from an emotional perspective. How do you react to situations, and why do you react in that way? If you’re emotionally self-aware, you know how your emotions affect you, affect your performance, and affect other people.

The powerful stuff starts when your emotional awareness lets you see your own trigger points. We’ve all been in a meeting where nobody's really hearing what's being said because the emotions are high. When a situation goes sideways, an emotionally self-aware person can see how their own hang-ups might have gotten them there, and (more importantly) how to straighten the conversation out again.


An uncomfortable thing about being self-aware is that you must (and I mean must) make an honest assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. That’s hard! Sometimes we don't like looking in that mirror. But remember that nobody (not me, not Bill Gates, not Michelle Obama) is perfect. We’re all still growing!

If you’re self-aware, you’re in tune with what your areas of opportunity are. You know where your weaknesses are, and you own them. That in itself is a strength. It’s not a weakness to raise your hand and say, “Hey, I know I need help in this area,” because if you know your weak points you can address and compensate for them.


Most people have pretty good BS-detectors. If you show up and you’re not being authentic, people know you're putting on a façade. If you’re trying to fool yourself about your flaws and strengths, chances are good you’re not fooling your coworkers. But if you show up authentically and own your flaws, you’re resolute that you are who you are, then people will notice and respect it. It’s a really “executive brain” mindset to adopt, and people will take note.


Remember the last time you got emotionally hijacked? You’re in a meeting and feeling passionate about something, and somebody says something that hit you wrong and boom, you went up to one hundred real quick.

An accountability partner is someone across the room who can look you in the eye and signal to you without words that, hey, you may need to dial it back a notch.

Obviously, you need someone you really trust for this kind of feedback, and you have to be intentional about how you want your feedback. A specific hand gesture, a quick text, a long gaze? Whatever it is, be sure it’s someone who you trust has your back. They should want you to succeed and be comfortable giving you feedback so you can get better at improving yourself.

If you need help improving your professional emotional awareness, let's connect! Put a one-on-one with me on your calendar and I can help you assess where you need to step up, and where you’re already excelling.

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