Developing Self-Management Skills

Sometimes we believe our environment is responsible for our mood. For example, some people are troubled when it rains, and blame it for affecting their temper. Others have an early morning mood when they “get out of the wrong side of the bed.” Others are troubled by the shortness of winter days…..And yet others need alcohol etc to feel okay.

A very common way people express themselves to describe the impact of this external environment is by using a technical metaphor, such as:

  • “He just knows how to push my buttons,”
  • “It’s a grim day,”
  • “What a depressing environment,”
  • “When they do such and such a thing, they make me mad!”

However, when you ask apparently absurd questions, such as: “How interesting, where is your buttons? What shape are they? How many have you got? You get very interesting results…..

Indeed such questions enable people to realize that these “buttons” are, in fact, figments of our imagination and don’t actually exist. We respond to others or to our environment in a certain manner because, unconsciously, we choose to, usually as a result of previous conditioning.


  • A grim day is a day during which we choose to feel grim;
  • A depressing environment is an environment in which we choose to feel depressed;
  • When he/she does such and such a thing. He/she makes me mad! Actually means: When he/she does such and such a thing, I choose to become angry.

Although this is easier to say than to achieve, realizing the choices we actually have at any one time frees us from investing other people with some power they have over us. Managing our emotions means that we can choose to have the emotions we want in stead of putting the outside world in charge of them.

In each experience you have three elements which influence one another: your thoughts, your feelings and your behavior. You can say for instance, that your behavior is caused by your internal state. In other words: when you are in a resourceful state, your communication and actions are more successful than when you are in a limiting state.

What do you need to control your emotions?

You can learn to activate a desired state through the use of triggers we call anchors. An anchor is an “ignition” key which causes a certain state to occur. Some examples of anchors could be alcohol, drugs, the weather, music etc. So you could think of an anchor as a button on the control panel in your head to switch on emotions or to turn them off. Instead of allowing other people to push these buttons, or letting external situations function as this kind of button, it is much more interesting to have these buttons within your own control.


Self-Management is the ability to control your emotional reactions while still behaving with honesty and integrity. A person who is emotionally intelligent does not let bad moods or a strong emotional reaction govern his or her behavior. She or he is able to be honest and frank in a calm manner, without attacking others. When moods or feelings are too strong to set aside, an emotionally intelligent person lets others know she/he is upset, and how long this is likely to last so they know what to expect and can adjust.

Self management in emotional intelligence

Self-Management also means being able to direct your own behavior toward a goal. It means being able to put off gratification in the present in order to get better results at a future time, like saving money now to buy a house later. And it means being able to motivate yourself to stick with something over time, even though it may be difficult and time consuming.

Two types of self-management skills are self-awareness and self-regulation:

  1. Self awareness means having deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and drives. It is the ‘know thyself’ property of a person. People with strong self-awareness are neither over-critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest with themselves. Self awareness extends to a person’s understanding of her values and goals. Someone who is highly self-aware knows where she is going and why. One of the hallmarks of self-awareness is a self-depricating sense of humor. Self-awareness can also be identified during performance appraisals. Self-aware people know, and are comfortable talking about, their limitations and strengths and often demonstrate a thirst for constructive criticism. Self-aware people can also be recognized by their self-confidence. They know, when to ask for help. They will not ask for a challenge that they know they cannot handle alone. They will play to their strengths, and protect their weak areas.
  2. Self-regulation is the component of emotional intelligence that “frees us from being prisoners of our feelings.” Everyone suffers from bad moods and emotional impulses – they key is to have the ability to control them and even channel them in useful ways. People who are in control of their feelings and impulses are able to create an environment of trust and fairness. Corporate politics and infighting are sharply reduced and productivity is high. Talented people feel attracted to the organization and are not tempted to leave.  Self-regulation is important for competitive reasons. People who master their emotions are able to roll with company changes. When a new change program is announced, they don’t panic. Instead, they are able to suspend judgment (and often anger), seek out information, and listen to explanations of the new program. Self-regulation is important to effective leadership because it enhances integrity. In the corporate world, integrity is not only a personal virtue but also it is an organizational strength. The signs of emotional self-regulation, therefore, are not hard to miss: a propensity for reflection and for thoughtfulness, comfort with ambiguity and change, and demonstrated integrity. These signs correlate with the ability to curb impulsive urges.

Emotional Intelligence from Self-Management

Emotional Intelligence will help you be more aware of your own emotions and tendencies, and help you control your reactions so you do not later find yourself regretting an automatic response. It can help you stay focused and motivated in order to achieve your long-term goals, even in the face of difficulty.

It can also help you understand other people: both why they react the way they do, and how to influence them to think and behave differently.

Since management requires all these things of you, as you develop your Emotional Intelligence the people management part of your job will become easier. Fortunately, Emotional Intelligence is something that can be developed and strengthened throughout your life.

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