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Emotional Intelligence and Impulse Control

One very important emotional intelligence competency is impulse control. But what is an impulse?

It's an emotional signal from our brain which generates signals throughout our body. It tells us that something is deserving of attention; something needs to happen now. There are people with high levels of emotional impulse control - people that take time to reflect, time to plan, time to wonder a little bit about the consequences and implications of their decisions and actions.

These people are often very effective at project planning and at getting the few things right that really need and deserve to be done right for the organization in order to allow it to operate as effectively as possible. Sometimes, people with a high level of impulse control can be seen as the mediator, ambassador or intermediary who can help people resolve situations and problems with other people. This is owing largely due to the fact that they don't jump in head first and make commitments or decisions without first carefully considering the benefits, drawbacks and implications of a potential decision.

They don't immediately think, "The more I talk, the more value I can add." Instead, they jump into the other person's world and start from there, rather than expecting or demanding that their counterparts step in to their world. They demonstrate real levels of empathy rather than sympathy and develop an understanding of what the other party actually requires from an encounter.

On the other side of the same coin, there are people with low levels of impulse control - "Respond now. I need to do something now. I need to make a decision now." They flip from one thing to the other, doing little bits of everything rather than focusing on the few things that really matter and which could add real value. Low levels of impulse control lead to flawed decision-making both operationally and personally. There can be real challenges with people failing to plan in advance or communicating to other people what they actually require in terms of performance, effectiveness, efficiency, and the achievement of goals and targets.

One way to gauge your impulse control is to become aware of your engagement with your mobile phone when you are having a chat with someone. If you divert your attention to your mobile when it rings or vibrates rather than keeping your attention focused on the person you're in dialogue with, what you're really saying to the person in front of you is that at this moment in time, that call/text/email is more important than them.

If you are demonstrating low levels of impulse control, you're like a chicken running around the yard without its head. It's survival mentality; not an effective way to lead a business or team towards optimal performance.

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