Looking within to cope with change

As of the 1st of June, South Africa entered lockdown level 3. All sectors are now permitted to operate, with the exception of activities considered high-risk. You may well be preparing to re-open your business or stay open with revised restrictions and health and safety protocols.

To prepare you to gradually move back to business as usual, we will assist you with tips on developing your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to cope with these changes. One of the best ways to deal with disruptive changes like this in your external environment is to start by looking within. Emotional Intelligence is a tool you can use to develop your internal world in a structured way. It will help you unlock new ways of relating to your co-workers and will enable you to lead your staff more effectively.

EQ also helps you develop the internal coping mechanisms you need to deal with stress caused by change and support you and your business during level 3 and beyond.

Figure 1: Core Emotional intelligence Skills


The 4 core EQ skills don’t stand alone, each impacts the other. For example, self-awareness, or the relationship I have with myself will impact on how I express myself, or self-management. How I express myself will impact the quality of my interpersonal relationships. If I perform poorly in all or some of these areas, I’ll experience higher stress levels and my ability to cope during challenging times, like lockdown level 3, will be impacted.

During situations of high stress and disruptive change, like the Coronavirus lockdown, having an increased ability to be self and socially aware will serve us, business owners. The quality of decisions we make will improve and we’ll be better equipped to manage our selves and staff during challenging situations. 


Getting your emotional intelligence to work for you during lockdown level 3 is a process of reflection and growth that can involve discomfort. You can use the practical exercise below to develop your EQ further.

There is no right or wrong, but rather only what serves you

You are not ‘supposed’ to be a certain way or react in a particular manner. You might be filled with joy at being able to re-open, or gripped with fear at what level 3 might bring. EQ is highly personal, and what works for one person, may not work for another. Instead of measuring yourself by the actions and emotions of others, look within to identify and develop what serves you.

Opportunity comes with discomfort

Understand that learning and development do not take place within your comfort zone. Lockdown has definitely taken us as individuals and business owners outside of our comfort zones! But it’s only when you move out of what feels comfortable and familiar that you can enter you optimal growth zone. Some discomfort will come as your business moves into level 3 and beyond. It’s important to be aware that too much discomfort can remove you from a space of optimal learning to feeling anxiety and disorganisation. Be kind to yourself in this process and don’t push yourself too hard.

Your impact matters

Remember that the impact you have on others differs from our intention. People respond to how you make them feel, not what your intention is. This disconnect is called the ‘communication gap’. Narrowing the communication gap will result in improved interpersonal relationships. As your staff return to work and you begin to ramp up trading under level 3, find ways to narrow this gap by asking for feedback from others (even if it is unpleasant).


As you and your business enter lockdown level 3, hold up a ‘mirror’ up to yourself. Reflect on how you perform in the core EQ areas by asking yourself the questions below. Remember to celebrate the aspects that you excel at and don’t judge your areas of development.

  1. Self-awareness – How do I get my relationship with myself right? What serves me? Am I aware of my emotions and how others influence them?
  2. Self-management – How do I speak my truth? Am I honest and clear in how I express myself? Do I practice empathy and restraint?
  3. Social-awareness – How are my relationships with others? Do I cultivate and nurture healthy relationships that serve my wellbeing and that of others? Do I give of myself and invest in others?
  4. Relationship management; Decision making – How do I arrive at conclusions? What is the quality of my decisions? Am I ruled by emotions or reason?
  5. Relationship management; Stress management – How do I adapt to change? What are the things that cause stress and anxiety in my life? And is the way I cope with them serving my wellbeing?

This exercise will allow you to identify areas of development and be conscious of them as you move ahead in your business and professional life.

Article Source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, 2009

Image Source: https://blog.vantagecircle.com/emotional-intelliigence-in-the-workplace

Framework image Source: https://positivepsychology.com/emotional-intelligence-frameworks/


Join our webinar:









With Nkuli Tleane, Psycho-Social Therapist and managing Director at Kwelanga Consulting.
She is a registered member of the Council of Counsellors South Africa (CCSA) and uses her skills as a public speaker to change the perspectives of individuals, families and groups to cope with day-to-day challenges they may be facing.

Nkuli will be joining us on Friday, 12 June 2020 at 11:30 am to support you with managing stress and coping during these challenging times. Click here to access the webinar: https://bit.ly/37cVEOs

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