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How to develop your Emotional Intelligence Part 3: Motivation

In Part 2 of this series, we explored Self Regulation – the second step in developing Emotional Intelligence. If you haven’t seen that article, you can read it here.

The third step in raising your Emotional Intelligence is knowing – and using – your Motivation.

Motivation is the your ability to use your ‘reason why’ to generate energy and persistence in pursuit of your goals. People who know their motivations are able to use that information to be driven, goal oriented, optimistic and committed to their organisation.

How do you know what really motivates you?

Motivations are often unconscious, though they drive all your decisions. Bringing them into your consciousness gives you an advantage because you can use them anytime to direct your behaviour toward your goals and raise your energy to do whatever it takes to get there. Whenever you’re feeling uninspired, you can tune into your motivations to refocus and rekindle your drive.

To figure out your own personal motivations, ask yourself:

What’s most important to me?

As you brainstorm for answers, think about your personal values, your dreams and your goals. Why are these important to you? What is it about these things that really matter to you? What would they actually give you?

For example, if your goal was to get promoted to senior management, ask yourself what would that really give you? It could be success, significance, respect, a sense of achievement, trust, influence, security (by being better paid), recognition or something else.

If your goal was to make beautiful art, that might give you self expression, creativity, connection with others, contribution to the world, a sense of achievement, appreciation or something else.

Brainstorm for a while and write down all your answers. Once you have a list, go through all your motivations and put them in order of importance to you. Your top 3 motivators will give you the most energy – these are the things that really drive you, the reasons for getting out of bed in the morning. Think about how your work fits in with your motivations – which of your motivations are served by the work you do? You can truly become a powerhouse when your work is aligned with your inner motivations.

Whenever you have a choice to make, choose in line with your top motivations. The things you value the most can become a handrail when you have decisions to make.

For example, think back to Parts 1 and 2 of this series. When you become self aware enough of your emotional states to put in a ‘Reset Breath’, you give yourself a moment to evaluate your impulses and decide whether or not to act on them (self regulation). If you decide your default response isn’t the most constructive for that situation, you can use your motivations to help you decide on a better way to respond. Your motivations inform you about what you ultimately desire so choose a response that takes you closer to what you really want!

Here’s an example. Let’s say Sarah’s top motivation is Trust. She finds herself in a disagreement with a staff member and she notices that she’s starting to get angry. She takes a Reset Breath and acknowledges to herself that her default impulse is to point out – in no uncertain terms – just how wrong the staff member is so she can ‘win’ the argument. However, because Sarah knows her top motivation is Trust, she decides to alter her response so that she can maintain trust with her staff member. She changes her tone, listens to the what the staff member has to say and respectfully communicates her decision on the matter. She doesn’t have to back down, she simply handles the situation in a more sophisticated manner, preserving the trust that matters so much to her (and her working relationship with the employee).

There are many ways to get what you really value. Some of our automatic reactions actually take us further away from what we want. By developing your Emotional Intelligence you can begin to create many more Win-Win situations with other people where everyone gets what they need. This helps to create better relationships and engagement within organisations, leading to more powerful leaders and high performing teams.

In Part 4, we will look more deeply at the fourth component of Emotional Intelligence: Empathy.

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