• I recently conducted a workshop for business leaders focused on stress and the impact it has on collaboration. As part of the workshop, everyone participated in a short simulation. It involved 15 people working together under extremely tight time constraints. When the simulation came to an end, and the team fell short of achieving their goal, the group unanimously explained, "We didn't have enough time!"

    Doesn’t that sound familiar? A day doesn't go by where I don't feel pressed for time. I end up packing in way more than I should, and I eventually feel overwhelmed, distracted, and stretched too thin.


    Josh Freedman has a lot to say about this in his article, Stress is Killing Me. Time for Emotional Intelligence? It becomes difficult to focus on a solution when we are pressed for time. The additional pressure ignites a myriad of thoughts and feelings.

    Thoughts: I’m never going to solve this. There’s not enough time. Everyone is in my way. Get out of my way. I’m so sick of doing this.

    Feelings: Frustrated. Annoyed. Perplexed. Anxious. Defeated. Overwhelmed.

    While some stress can actually be helpful, stress becomes toxic when you enter into a stress cycle with no plan or awareness on how to get out. The stress cycle looks like this:

  • I can relate to this cycle. It's the "If I can just get through these next couple of days, I'll have more time for...." phenomenon. And then I sit in my urgent focused state, shutting out the world around me and feeling disconnected. I don't think my reaction to stress is that uncommon. And this is the problem.

    The more stress we experience, the more we detach from the people around us. The very people we need most in these stressful situations. 

    I love Psychologist Kelly McGonigal's TED TALK on the topic. She recommends perceiving stress as positive and encourages reaching out to others as a mechanism for stress reduction.


    As we debriefed the workshop activity it became clear to everyone, the lack of time created a sense of stress. This stress resulted in:

    • People jumping in to try to solve the problem
    • Some worked in groups of two
    • Others worked in groups of three
    • Others on their own
    • Some just checked out
    • No one worked together as a team, leveraging each others’ strengths and sharing the burden of coming up with a solution

    And as a result:

    • Communication shut down
    • Planning was non-existent
    • And random solutions were being tossed out with no success

    Collaboration requires you to slow down, seek multiple perspectives and ideas to determine the best possible solution.


    During the workshop, participants completed a Six Seconds Brain Brief Profile to increase their self-awareness. The profile helped them to understand:

    • Where they prefer to focus (facts or feelings)
    • How they appraise situations (assess risk or assess opportunity)
    • How they get energy (pragmatic action or long-term possibilities)

    Our simulation helped to point out that emotions drive people, and people drive performance. Here are just a few of the observed actions that resulted from different feelings.

    When participants felt…



    Jumped right in asking questions to understand the problem


    Recognized the risk and was assessing the situation


    Declared that it is impossible and that they were never going to be able to do it


    Sat back and waited for others to step up and give direction


    Listened for others' ideas and made sure they were heard

    Being able to identify and name how you are feeling will impact your ability to navigate an emotion and ultimately the actions you take.


    Emotional Intelligence is simply being smart with feelings. It’s your ability to recognize your thoughts and your feelings. As you become more self-aware, you will also become more aware of how others are feeling and how to interpret these feelings. With greater self-awareness and awareness of others, you are able to use your thoughts and feelings to intentionally choose how you want to respond (versus reacting on auto-pilot).

    And the best news…Emotional Intelligence can be developed with practice and coaching.

    While it may sound simple, it takes a lot of practice and guidance. THE PRACTICE™ is a new mobile platform that offers a very targeted approach to learning, developing, and practicing the skills of EQ. It uses micro-learning modules that can be accessed anytime, anywhere - proactively when you are focusing on your development, or in the heat of the moment when you need some additional guidance.

    Emotional intelligence is a significant predictor of success as it relates to your effectiveness, relationships, well-being, and quality of life. My friends at Positive Psychology summarize some of the benefits of focusing on developing your Emotional Intelligence. You can read more HERE to find out how EQ influences:

    • Relationships
    • Workplace
    • Decision Making
    • Communication
    • Building Resilience
  • If you'd like to begin developing your own Emotional Intelligence, try these simple first steps.

    • Throughout the day, pause to pay attention to the thoughts and feelings going on beneath the surface.
    • When you recognize a feeling, ask “How else am I feeling?” We often stop at the surface level of emotions when there is really more going on. Be curious about that and keep asking yourself “what else?” until you get below the surface.
    • Now, look at that list of feelings. What are they telling you? How are they informing your thoughts? And how are your thoughts influencing your feelings?
    • There is a misperception that some feelings are good and some are bad. Instead of that, try looking at feelings as data points. What are they communicating to you and how can you use that information as you face a decision or choice?
    • Finally, your feelings are here to serve you. You are not here to serve your feelings. Acknowledge them. They are real. And then choose which feeling you want to ride out.
    • Allow yourself plenty of time to PRACTICE. Just like riding a bicycle for the first time, it won’t come naturally at first. You may even fall off. With practice, however, you'll learn to recognize your feelings with ease and begin to recognize others' feelings as well.

    Kelli is the founder of EQuip Studios. She is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a Master Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. EQuip Studios partners with individuals and organizations to unlock infinite possibility.

    If you would like to experience more PRACTICE, visit THEPRACTICE.EQuipStudios.net. You can try several FREE sessions, or subscribe to gain access to a year's worth of PRACTICE sessions.