At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.

~ Lao Tzu.

Some people would totally disagree with Lao Tzu’s statement. However, I find in my coaching practice that the more questions I can ask, the more my clients get real clarity and the truth of who they are and what they really want rather than staying stuck on the surface wants/needs.

These last 3 blogs have been emotional intelligence skills that fall under the Self-Perception umbrella – Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, and Self-Awareness. They all focus on the Inner You … understanding yourself and your emotions, and how confident you feel about yourself, what you’re doing and where you’re going in life.


Self-Awareness is being able to accurately understand what you’re feeling – more than just mad, sad, glad, or scared. You can identify a spectrum of emotions. For example, are you mad, critical or skeptical? Are you scared, anxious, or feeling foolish? Each of the main emotional categories contain many numerous nuances that many people fail to consider. Can you identify what you’re truly feeling?

An example is that employee who just heard there were going to be changes in the department and he comes up to you extremely angry. But, if you dig a little deeper you realize he’s not really angry, he’s scared. What if he gets laid off? What if it changes his hours? What if he doesn’t know how to make the change and feel as confident as he does now in his work? If you approach him assuming he’s angry, he’ll stay angry because you haven’t addressed his true emotion of being scared.

It’s the same with you. Once you can accurately identify what emotion you’re having, then it’s easier to address it and/or be present in it. If you can’t recognize your emotion, then you can’t manage it. Just being able to master this one skill will enable you to improve the other emotional intelligence skills much easier.

Another part of being self-aware is also recognizing what impact your emotions are having on the people around you. It doesn’t just affect you when you’re angry or ecstatic! Others feel that energy off of you and it affects them as well!

I’m not telling you that you have to overanalyze your emotions at all. Nor am I telling you to stuff them down, or try to ignore them. If you can identify and get a handle on your emotions, then you have greater choice in the way you think and act; so that you aren’t driven by your subconscious rather than your conscious thoughts.

Going Deeper into Self-Awareness

So, what can you do? Here are 6 questions for you to reflect on to increase your usage of this emotional intelligence skill of self-awareness.

  • What are my strengths? My weaknesses?
  • How are my strengths and weaknesses reflected in my leadership actions and styles?
  • When was a time when I was in the midst of a situation where I was frustrated and/or confused?
  • If I could have handled it differently, what would I like to have done instead?
  • What were three gifts (benefits) that came out of the frustrating situation? (Note, this question helps you recognize the learning in any situation which enables you to grow from it and not get stuck in it.)
  • What can I do today to manage my emotions so they serve me?

There are certain emotions that will kill your drive – frustration and confusion. You can change these to a positive force. Frustration means you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. Confusion can mean you’re about to learn something. Expect the breakthrough and expect to learn.   ~ Kathleen Spike

This week recognize what emotion you’re feeling, what thoughts and actions/behaviors you are having because of these emotions, and how your feelings are affecting others around you. These steps enable you, versus your subconscious, to be in control of your decision making. Not to mention, how positively it affects your leadership style!

As we continue our exploration of the 15 emotional intelligence skills, the next 3 blogs will be skills under the Self-Expression umbrella – Emotional Expression, Assertiveness, and Independence.

If you are interested in a journal/adult coloring book to help you implement emotional intelligence skills into your life and leadership, get my book: Coloring Outside the Lines: A Grown-Up’s Creative Guide to Increasing Emotional Intelligence (on Amazon). For information on leadership, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to

For the next skill in the Emotional Intelligence series – Emotional Expression, click here