Try This Exercise to Gauge Your Emotional ‘Wake’

By Daisy Nelson White, Ph.D.

As each of us travels through our day–at work, at home, and in the larger community–it is vital to our own success to be aware of the impact we have on others. The measure of our impact–positive or less-than-positive–is our emotional intelligence quotient. We gauge EQ by four factors: how self-aware we are, how aware we are of our impact on others, how in control of our own behavior we are, and how effectively we manage relationships with others. Our actions have the potential for a positive or a negative effect on those with whom we come in contact.

At White Ridgely Associates, we call this impact your emotional “wake.”

Picture yourself as a sleek, comfortable yacht negotiating a narrow channel where other boats are docked. As you pass them by, notice the effect of your wake on them. Are the other boats gently bobbing on the placid ripples created by your passage? Or are they negatively affected by your churning wake that sends them crashing into their moorings, even coming loose and splintering apart?

Do you notice that some of the other boats are tied securely with bumpers between them and the dock? Regardless of the size of the wake they encounter, they remain safe. Others are tied without a buffer or not tied up at all. Even if you go slowly, your small wake can negatively affect other boats that are not tied well. To maximize your success, you must be aware of your wake and its effect (or potential effect) on others. Emotional intelligence also includes being aware of the wake (emotions) of others. You can use this knowledge to be more effective in working with others–your “clients,” if you will.

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