Mr Angry and Mr Calm – a lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever been fascinated observing arguments between other people? If you’re anything like me then the answer to this question is a resounding YES. Perhaps I’m just a bit nosey but I’ve always been interested in the ways people interact and what it tells me about the social skills of the people involved.

I was listening and watching just such a disagreement the other day between 2 guys I shall call Mr Angry and Mr Calm. They got me thinking again about Emotional Intelligence and how the ability to manage people and relationships is so important in both our careers and our personal lives. To be successful in our interactions with other people we need to be continuously learning how to be more flexible, adaptable and accepting. Even in the face of someone else’s criticism, misguided opinion or downright nastiness, it is healthiest to find a measured response, even when emotions may be running high.

In the disagreement I watched, Mr Angry was being rude and arrogant and belittling everything Mr Calm said. Mr Calm, despite the provocation, decided not to respond with similar anger but to remain calm and walk away. This diffused the situation and left Mr Angry dumbfounded. I admired Mr Calm – it is not always easy to stay in control when confronted with an emotional, unreasoned outburst. He had clearly practiced this way of behaving and it stopped any escalation of the situation. How different it would have been if Mr Angry had met Mr Angry instead. Perhaps like me you’ve witnessed Road Rage, Shop Rage or Childlike Tantrums – and they never end well! So what can we learn from this about Emotional Intelligence?

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, developed a framework of 5 elements that define emotional intelligence:

Self-Awareness – Emotionally intelligent people understand their emotions, and because of this, they aren’t ruled by their feelings. People who are self aware confidently trust their intuition. They are also willing to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses so they can learn to improve.

Self-Regulation – Emotionally intelligent people are able to control their emotions and impulses, and typically don’t make rash decisions. They think before they act. People who self-regulate are thoughtful, comfortable with change, have integrity, and are assertive.

Motivation – Emotionally intelligent people are usually motivated. They recognize the value of deferring immediate results for long-term success. They are highly productive, welcome a challenge, and tend to be very effective in whatever they do.

Empathy – Emotionally intelligent people can identify with, and understand, the wants, needs, and viewpoints of others. They recognize how others may be feeling, even when this may not be obvious. They are excellent at managing relationships, listening, and relating to others. They avoid stereotyping and quick judgements, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way.

Social Skills – Emotionally intelligent people are easy to talk to and are usually very likeable. They are typically team players who are happy to help others develop and shine rather than focus on their own success. They are excellent communicators who manage disputes well and find it easy to build and maintain healthy relationships.

So how do you measure up? Who is more familiar – Mr/Mrs Angry or Mr/Mrs Calm? Observe how you react to other people. Do you make quick judgements before you know all of the facts? Do you stereotype people? Do you seek attention for what you’ve achieved? Do you know your own weaknesses? Are you willing to work on them? What are you like in stressful situations – do you get easily upset and emotional? Do you blame others before looking at yourself?

So what can we learn from Mr Calm – Mr Emotionally Intelligent?

The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued – especially in the workplace. Think about how developing this skill could benefit your personal life too. Wouldn’t you like to be able to keep your emotions under control even when things go wrong? Next time you are in a stressful situation observe how you think and behave. Practice taking a step away from your initial emotional reaction and consider alternatives.
When we take an honest look at ourselves and evaluate our habitual ways of reacting and responding we often find there is a better way.

A blip on the timeline of your whole life


What if all that stuff you are worrying about today doesn’t really matter all that much? What if it’s just a blip on the timeline of your whole life?

Whether we worry or not, this doesn’t generally change things. Ask yourself if today right at this moment you are ok. I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand and ignoring things that perhaps need dealing with, but just focussing on the here and now. Stop. Pause. Be mindful of this very moment in time. Ask yourself if today, right at this moment, you are ok.

What happens, happens – whether we spend sleepless nights and all the hours in a day worrying or not. Often things that seem so dreadful now become less anxiety-provoking over time. It can be helpful to remember that what you are experiencing now is just a moment in the timeline of your whole life – a small blip in the story of your life. It is not what defines your life, unless you choose it to be.

You can choose how you react to whatever happens in your life, even though things may be thrust upon you, can feel unfair, undeserved and arrive at your door at the most inappropriate times. Whilst you cannot always control what happens in life, you can choose your own actions, thoughts and feelings. Surely it is better to choose actions, thoughts and feelings that are helpful and healthy and support your own sense of well-being, than those which are damaging and provide no benefit? It may seem that a negative coping strategy helps you out short term, but really you are only putting off finding a better way of dealing with things, which you will need to find at some point if you are to survive any crisis with your health and well-being in tact.

There is one thing that you can be sure of in all this, as time moves on change happens. Nothing ever stays the same. This change is what makes life worth living. It is the natural way of the world. Winter turns to Spring just as the night and darkness gives way to each new dawn. Every moment, as one person dies, another is born somewhere in the world. There is a natural and never ending cycle of decay and rebirth. It never rains forever – at some point the sunshine returns – plus the rain has it’s own value too. If we never experienced these sorts of contrasts, including the lows that we can find so difficult, we would never appreciate the highs or the okays. Life would be bland and dull. Every challenge you face is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, about others and about life itself. Yes it can be hard sometimes, damned hard, but this too will pass with time.

So now ask yourself the question again…. What if all the stuff you are worrying about today doesn’t really matter all that much? What if it’s just a blip on the timeline of your whole life…….

#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 6


Often people tell me they lack confidence because they are scared about making a fool of themselves or looking stupid. When you think like this, those thoughts affect the way you feel and lead to a host of physical symptoms. Perhaps you have experienced some of them – shaking, blushing, feeling sick, tripping over your words. If I asked you to describe a person who lacked confidence, what would you say? Chances are you would notice their closed body language, or how quiet and withdrawn they are.

However, physical symptoms like feeling sick are usually more apparent to the person experiencing them than being outwardly visible. Even blushing or shaking can go unnoticed despite feeling overwhelming to the person who is experiencing the discomfort of a lack of confidence. The point I am making is that other people just don’t notice as much as you think they do. Even if they do, they would just think you were a bit nervous, and reasonable people think that is ok as we all feel like that sometimes. When you lack confidence you can get totally caught up in these sorts of feelings – your focus is directed inwards on yourself – and this makes you feel worse. The trick to feeling confident then is to reverse this focus. You need to focus outwardly on other people and on your immediate purpose.

Remember that young man who lacked the confidence to give a presentation? He discovered that when he shifted his focus outwardly – onto his audience and on what he wanted to tell them about, he stopped dwelling on how unconfident he was feeling inside. When you focus internally on your nervous feelings you are sending a message to your brain that says “I am really nervous about this so it must be something to be worried about” and this in turn makes the symptoms even worse. It sets up a vicious circle. Often people who feel like this and lack confidence will avoid situations that make them fearful – for example phoning in sick on the day of a presentation so they don’t have to go through with it. This either just puts off the inevitable as the presentation may be rescheduled, or it reinforces the learned behaviour – that this is something to be worried about and you must avoid it at all costs if it happens again. If you play the avoidance game all your life then you are missing out on some wonderful opportunities to fulfill your potential. Why not have a go at changing the way you behave – you have nothing to lose but your lack of confidence!

Let’s take our example of giving a presentation at work again. Your instant reaction may be to make an excuse and avoid having to do it, but there is a way to override this feeling if it happens. You can find ways to help overcome any feelings of anxiety. See my previous blogs on #anxiety for how to do this:

When you are able to feel calmer and more relaxed, you can think more clearly. Focus on your purpose for doing the presentation. What message or key points do you want your audience to take away with them? Remember how it felt when you modeled your ideal confident person – how they were standing and the speed of their speech. Mirror that body language and you will e-experience the confidence you felt during your identity merge. Remember that your audience is there to learn from you, not to judge you personally. Most people have had the experience of presenting so they understand it can make you a little nervous – and therefore they will be on your side. Have you ever watched those TV auditions for singing shows? Do you feel yourself willing someone who seems a little nervous to do well? Notice how the audience is on their side and wills them along. Most people are like this and want you to succeed, so they are tolerant of mistakes – you do not have to be perfect. It’s ok to be good enough! Being ok with whatever happens, because you did the best you could do at that particular time, is the key to confidence. It’s amazing that even the most confident performers admit to feeling a bit nervous – but you would never know unless you asked them. Just because you feel this way on the inside it doesn’t mean your audience will notice, so don’t get hung up on it and allow it to take over your thinking. Do the best you can at that time and congratulate yourself for what you did achieve – that is the way to build your confidence. Your own internal voice can be trained to be your fan club rather than your greatest critic!

Reading this series of blogs has already sown the seeds of Confidence in your mind so why not start growing your own Confidence habit today – reinforce it by using regularly and see your Confidence blossom!

I hope that you have found these 6 blogs on #Confidence interesting reading. Perhaps you have learned something, challenged something, or thought about changing something. If you have a different perspective to offer then perhaps you could share your ideas too. If you have been inspired to seek help with building your confidence, then there are many dedicated professionals out there who can help you.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist and I work in #York. I can be reached via my website at:


#Confidence – what can I do to get it? Part 5


Maybe you are one of those people that feel like you have never, ever been confident? How do you know how to be confident if you have never done it? One of the very useful techniques I use in my therapy room allows people to understand how another person goes about being confident – and then to model themselves on the confident traits they would like to adopt.

Who do you admire for their confidence? I’ve heard various answers to this question ranging from President Obama to Beyonce, Margaret Thatcher, Muhammad Ali and Rihanna. For others it is their husband, mother or a favourite teacher. If you would like to become more confident then in order to have made this judgement, you must have already had a model in mind that you are using as a comparison to yourself.

Get a sense of your admired, confident person and take a good, long look at what it is about them that leads you to admire their confidence. If you find this difficult you can close your eyes to allow you to focus your attention, much as you would do in a #hypnotherapy session. You only need to notice the confident parts of the person that you would like for yourself – not every aspect or things you don’t like about them. Modelling other people in this way is nothing new. Have you ever shadowed an expert at work to see what it is they do to complete their job well? Top sports people are often encouraged to do this same exercise – noticing what it is about the performance of winning athletes or themselves when they are successful, that they can use to improve. Modelling or copying the outwardly evident confident aspects of your ideal will allow you to feel the confidence they experience on the inside.

So you can do this for yourself now. Think about the person you most admire for their confidence, and imagine them in the situation where you would like to be more confident. Close your eyes and see that person in that situation and notice what they look like. You need to pay close attention to their posture and body language, the way and speed they move. Notice their facial expressions, the way they speak – the tone, pitch and speed. Picture how they are dressed. Pay attention to the way they relate to other people in the situation and how others interact with them in return. Spend as long as you need doing this and make it as real as you can. Next, imagine yourself standing next to your model. Gradually you are going to drift into being that person as your identities merge together until you are there actually as that person, seeing through their eyes and standing in their body. If you are doing this in a focused way, you will be able to experience what it is like to be this person and have this amount of confidence. It can take practice to do this and a good #hypnotherapist will help you to do this effectively. Once you have experienced what it feels like on the inside to be this confident, it becomes easier for you to behave this way in your own life.

It is well known that acting ‘as if’ we are confident allows our brain to learn how to do this instinctively. Remember, if you have been training your brain by acting unconfidently for a long time, it will have learned to do this really well. Acting ‘as if’ may seem to be a bit false or fake for you at first, but it is this mental rehearsal that allows you to learn any new behaviour until it becomes an effortless habit. Confidence is something we learn. Often we begin in childhood by modeling a parent or someone close to us. Perhaps you haven’t had the right training so far, but this doesn’t mean you are stuck with a lack of confidence. You can bring your ideal into your imagination and begin to model them whenever you want to. You can learn how to be confident, and this means you have to practice until it becomes your natural way of doing things.

I hope you are enjoying reading these blogs about developing your Confidence and are finding the information helpful. Why not follow my blog and check out whether you have missed anything useful?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and #Hypnotherapist working in private practice in #York. I can be reached via my website at: