CAN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?
What comes to mind when I say the words emotional intelligence? If you aren’t familiar with the term it might sound kind of vague. How are my emotions intelligent? What does that even mean?
The term was first coined by Mayer and Salovey in 1990 but was made popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman. He identified emotional intelligence as having five key areas: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
1. Self-Awareness – this refers the ability to both recognize and understand your own emotions as well as others. It also includes understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness includes understanding how your actions impact others.
2. Self-regulation – this part of emotional intelligence includes the appropriate expression of emotion, managing conflict, and coping with change.
3. Social skills – this looks at how you interact with others on a daily basis. Some examples of social skills are: active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, and developing rapport.
4. Empathy – this refers to the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone else even if you have not experienced what they are going through.
5. Motivation – this refers to the drive to meet personal goals and needs without the need for external rewards (money, fame etc.)
EI IN SPORT
Hopefully the brief descriptions above gave you a little idea of the framework on emotional intelligence. In future blogs I will dive deeper into each subsection as there is plenty of material to spend quite a bit of time on each area on its own.
For the sake of today let’s look at why you would even want to be exploring this topic in the first place.
I spend a fair amount of my “free” time watching motorsports. This isn’t a secret because I have posted about it, spoken about it on podcasts, and been photographed at plenty of racetracks.
What may not be as obvious is while I am there, I am watching the interactions from a different viewpoint. Yes, I am watching the race, but I am also watching the body language, the frustrations, the occasional display of sportsmanship. I’m watching for emotional intelligence.
Often I see things that impress me as examples of strong emotional intelligence skills. Sometimes...not so much.
There have been instances this year of racers losing sponsors and contracts over things that were said on social media or "hot mic" incidents. These could be looked at examples of some room for improvement in key areas of emotional intelligence.
WHERE DO YOU START?
If you are new to emotional intelligence you might be wondering where or how you start to work on something like this. There are many ways, but I’ll give you three.
1. Learn More – Read up on the subject and get curious about where you might have a deficit. Chances are once you start to explore the subject more you will realize where your deficits are. A great book to start with is one of the originals by Daniel Goleman. This will give you a greater understanding on the subject.
2. Put It In To Practice – Take a key concept like self-awareness. Work towards developing self-awareness of yourself and teammates emotional states during a daily or weekend interaction. Work first to become aware of your own emotions and how they impact performance. Did an irritation during the morning impact the result later in the day?
3. Hire A Coach – Sometimes you need to bring in a professional. Emotional intelligence is hard work. It takes effort and accountability. A coach that is well versed in emotional intelligence can cut down on the guesswork of you trying to figure it out on your own.
Emotional intelligence work will benefit you in every area of your life, not just athletic performance. Although there have been changes to the original model that Goleman developed in the 90’s, the concepts remain the same and have stood the test of time. Invest in yourself and your relationships as well as your performance will benefit.
If you want help sorting through where to start or want a coach to partner with, I am happy to help. Book your free call by clicking here.