Test What is Real

Carolyn Stern August 31, 2016

Decision-making – how we use the information our emotions provide to make decisions – is the fourth composite scale that contributes to emotional intelligence.

In my last blog, I examined the first emotional intelligence competency under this composite scale, Problem Solving.  Let’s continue with the second competency and discuss Reality Testing.

Reality testing is the act of “tuning in” to a moment or situation and looking at it objectively – as it truly is. It’s about keeping things in perspective by confirming our thoughts and ideas.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you able to see things objectively rather than creating stories about what is really going on? 
  • Are you living in ‘la-la-land’ to the point where you need a reality check?

The challenge is some people believe they see things as they really are – but actually don’t.  Whenever I am coaching a client like this, I have suggested this technique to help them test their reality. 

Try this simple exercise…recall a recent incident you would describe as stressful. Visualize yourself as an observer not a participant. As you shift from the role of the participant to the observer, list out all of your observations, without any emotions attached to it.

The problem is most people stop here.  They think by taking their emotions out of the situation, they are objective and realistic; but what they don’t do is question whether or not, what they are seeing is how others are seeing the situation as well.  The key to the reality-testing competency is to test your reality.  That means – challenge your own assumptions; inquire/question; test what is real.

Everyone sees things differently.  We have all had different life experiences, come from different backgrounds and upbringings, and have different values and beliefs.  It is hard to observe purely, without having our own perceptions of our observations cloud our vision. Removing such internal influences and learning to observe objectively is an important skill to develop.

Once you have gathered the others’ observations and perceptions, you can take yourself out of the situation again, and look from above at an even higher level, and make a rational decision; one that is both impartial, yet still takes into consideration, and is connected to, the others involved.

If you apply this technique, you will be able to think more objectively, and be more present and mindful when solving your problems. 

  1. Recall an incident
  2. Take yourself out of the situation
  3. State what you objectively observed
  4. Ask others how they see things from theirvantage point
  5. Using the information from your own observations as well as others’, make a rational decision

If this post has you curious and you’d like to learn more, I offer a variety of online emotional intelligence training programs, live corporate training workshops, EQ assessmentsand coaching packages.

Join me next time as I continue to break down the emotional intelligence area of Decision Making, and explore the third competency in this area, impulse control.  Until then, before you guess what is real, test what is real.

Learn more about emotional intelligence in my previous blogs:

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