Impact of slowing down on emotional intelligence eq Kim Waltman

Last month’s blog post shed light on the fact that the idea of something feels simple, it’s the execution of the idea that feels overwhelming + awkward. Such is the case with the focus of this month’s post: the need to slow down.

This previously mentioned topic first appeared in July 2016 in an effort to explain why ‘busy’ inhibits emotional intelligence (EQ). It appeared a second time in August 2017 as the result of an unscientific experiment I conducted when my three children were 15, 16 + 19 years of age. It was known as our summer ‘busy detox’.

I find the battle between ‘busy’ and slowing down to be the most common obstacle hindering coaching clients + public speaking audiences from developing the soft skills associated with the five elements of emotional intelligence (EQ). Getting caught in the busyness of busy makes it difficult for them to acquire new non-technical skills that contribute to more effective leadership of self + others.

How can we gain relief from being busy and bridge the gap between busyness and slowing down? Let’s discuss.

Consider the Possibility of Slowing Down

You’re probably wondering, “How on earth could I even consider it an option to slow down? There’s an endless stream of meetings, emails, texts, photos, videos + social media posts to keep up with.”

Let’s talk about Simon Sinek’s favorite word - why.


  • One calculation claims we’ve created more information in the last 10 years than in all of human history before that - Forbes
  • Busy has evolved into a status symbol - The Atlantic
  • A majority of humans are under the mistaken illusion that busy equals important or productive when in fact, the busiest humans are typically the ones who lack purpose + vision or are hiding from real life.

Such trends are expected to continue, so here’s where the power of choice comes in. We can  continue conforming to societal scripts by living at break-neck speed while compromising our well being, our spirit + our relationships. Or, we can make counterintuitive choices that enable us to ‘show up’ for life by actually experiencing it. Our brains need it. Our personal + work relationships need it.

Hopefully by now you’re wondering “What does it look + feel like to choose to be less busy?” Here’s a look at what is means to slow down when aligned with my simple three-step process: ‘show up’, ‘step in’ + ‘commit’.

Transitioning Your Mindset to “Life is Better Slower”  

‘Show up’: How often do you physically ‘show up’ in a space - at a meeting, an event or at a networking event - but you’re mentally + emotionally somewhere else? It’s time to acknowledge that even though you’re enough, you need to take responsibility for what you bring to others’ spaces. It’s difficult to be in touch with your ‘being’ self - your inner self - when you’re mind is reliving the past or anticipating the future. In other words, you’re living anywhere but in the moment you’re in.

Living in the moment and embodying EQ looks like this:

  1. You’re self-aware - you always know how you feel + you understand the impact of your emotions + actions on others.

  2. You’re self-regulated - you realize the benefit of choosing a response rather than reacting. You have control of your emotions.

  3. You’re motivated - you consistently work toward your goals + have high standards for your work.

  4. You’re empathetic - you can put yourself in someone else’s situation by paying attention to their body language + responding to their feelings.

  5. You have social skills (which means something different than you think) - you’re able to manage change + resolve conflicts diplomatically. You’re a strong communicator + know how to praise others.

‘Step in’: Change is hard. It’s also a beautiful opportunity to the dynamic of human interactions. This requires catching your thoughts + changing them from your default behaviors to new ones.

I recommend being realistic about what’s possible. One step is always better than not trying at all. Mistakes are teachers + grace comes in the form of being gentle with yourself + others.

Here’s what it looks like when applied to the five EQ skills:

  1. Self-aware - you quiet your mind through slow, deep breaths so you can sense what’s showing up within your body. You pay attention to sensations triggered by others’ words + behaviors. You use this simply as data + recognize it’s neither good nor bad, it just is.

  2. Self-regulated - you don’t take on the emotions of those around you because you manage your with acceptance + without judgement. You are slow to respond + intentional + calm when you do.

  3. Motivated - you accept responsibility for the way you used to show up, have a clear vision of how you want to grow + work hard to make better choices. You know the result of your efforts positively impact outcomes.

  4. Empathetic -  You literally can picture yourself in another's’ shoes + give conscious thought to how they feel. You exhibit healthy boundaries that keep you from taking their emotions on as your own.

  5. Social skills - you flex + adapt with the flow of life without getting caught in the minutia of drama. You communicate clearly, concisely + intentionally. You let others know when they’ve made good choices by acknowledging their efforts + results.  

‘Commit’: You repeatedly + consistently choose to move a little slower, do a little less busy work + perform more purposeful work. As a result, productivity increases + relationships become healthier. You choose to be present  in your daily life + improve each of the five EQ elements to increase your overall EQ quotient. You become an example + encourage others. You respect the fact that growing EQ is a daily choice + requires patient diligence.  

I’m grateful for + inspired by those of you who are aware of EQ + the growing need for it in personal + professional spaces. I hope you found the guidance provided by the three-step process helpful in transitioning you from the idea of slowing down to executing one step in that direction.

Have you made the choice to buck the norm + live life slower? I invite you to share your experiences related to slowing down your life + improving the flexible, learnable skill of EQ.

Interested in reading more about slowing down?