Survive and Thrive with EQ Flexibility
A few years ago on vacation in Mexico, my husband and I visited a water park. There we experienced a float bridge of sorts.
While crossing the water, the bridge ebbed and flowed with our every movement. The more resistance that we showed the more the bridge seemed to want to dump us into the water.
It was clear, we learned with experience, that we needed to “go with the flow” in order to safely get across. Be flexible and we would make it.
Flexibility, as defined by Reuven Bar-On, author of the EQ-instrument, is the “ability to adjust one’s feelings, thoughts and behavior to changing situations and conditions.”
Many psychologists consider flexibility to be a key component of emotional health. This is because it involves your overall ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances.
Change is the greatest constant in our fast paced world. Flexibility, of course, is needed for change.
Being flexible in the face of change can be very difficult for some people. The best way to fight off rigidity is by continually challenging yourself with new situations and by taking some calculated risks.
You can’t develop flexibility overnight, or with sheer will or by reading a book. Flexibility is acquired through increasing self-awareness, practice and understanding your mindset. Read on for some ideas on increasing your Flexibility EQ.
- Banish irrational fears that prevent clear thinking, action and ability to see what lies ahead. There is a direct connection between feeling afraid and becoming less flexible. When things become ambiguous, people are often unsure of what is expected of them. Take time to pinpoint why you are feeling inflexible (i.e. fear that the change won’t benefit you, fear of what will happen next, etc.)
- Boost your self-regard. One of the major reasons people are inflexible is that they fear that they will not be able to cope with what is happening. Do a mental rehearsal of “what ifs” to put yourself at ease. Think of other difficult situations that you were able to handle.
- Get involved in the change process. Ask questions and find out all that you can to alleviate fears and give yourself some control.
- Anticipate change. Use your reality testing competency to monitor trends that may be coming your way.
- Stretch yourself. Make changes even before you have to in order to challenge yourself. The more practice you get in coping with ambiguity, the more flexible you’ll become.
- Listen, really hear what is happening. Are you plugged in to what is going on in your organization? Sometimes people who are inflexible don’t hear the message and want to keep things the way they are.
- Control your instant responses. Practice holding back your resistance and (again) really listen. Research shows that generally somewhere between the second and third thing you think to say or do is the best option.
Use your flexibility to embrace what is ahead for you and your team. There is certainly nothing more growth promoting than change-it causes us to dig deep within and cope with its effects.
“Everyone is looking for a formula in business like E=mc2. But it’s not a formula. It’s got to be emotional, spontaneous and from the heart.”
Herb Kelleher, Co-Founder of Southwest Airlines