Stress Management

In our last few blogs, we’ve unravelled the meanings of the first four elements of the emotional intelligence wheel. Each element is important in its own distinctive way and the last one left to explore is ‘Stress Management’.

This element is something that everyone can relate to. We all experience stress from time to time; it’s just part of being human. It’s how we manage those feelings, though, that really matters, especially when we’re looking to develop our emotional intelligence.

The ‘Stress Management’ composite scale is comprised of flexibility, stress tolerance and optimism. Collectively, this facet of emotional intelligence addresses how well one can cope with the emotions associated with change and unfamiliar or unpredictable circumstances, while remaining hopeful about the future and resilient in the face of setbacks and obstacles.

A real life instance was recently highlighted during one of our facilitated team development workshops. One of our senior facilitators and EQi coaches was working with a senior commercial team in the nuclear sector. During one of their feedback sessions, the area of stress management came up in relation to how the team were coping in their currently demanding environment.

The team recognised that, for one or two members, flexibility was scoring lower and therefore had an impact on the team, making the hectic setting they were facing even more challenging. We also highlighted that several of the team were rating their optimism lower because of these current demands, having a negative influence on the team as a whole.

These two areas really affected the team’s stress tolerance and the ways in which they were working together – their ability to cope was being seriously tested. The workshop enabled the team to have worthwhile and robust conversations about how they might work with stress management, both individually and collectively, in the future. It proved to be a significant revelation for the team, enabling them to work differently and more successfully together from then on.

From another angle

Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman concluded in the Transactional Model that stress comes from an imbalance between the demands of a task and the person’s ability to do that task. When demands exceed resources, it can be difficult to deal with. It’s the techniques you use to organise and navigate these demands that allow you to overcome them. This is where emotional intelligence comes in: you have to look at an obstacle positively and logically before attempting to tackle it.


In the simplest form, the ‘Stress Management’ segment of the EI wheel looks at how people handle testing situations in order to overcome them successfully. It’s important to be pragmatic and forward-thinking to get past those feelings of stress and be emotionally intelligent in the workplace, and above all, it’s beneficial to stay positive. After all, in the words of Steven Stein, “People who are happy manage to deal with life’s stresses better than those who are unhappy.”



Stein, S. J. (2009:227). Emotional Intelligence For Dummies – John Wiley & Sons, Canada

Sincero, S. M. (May 10, 2012). Stress Management. Retrieved Mar 01, 2016 from


Words: Sophie Heward

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