29 Nov

Perfect is the Word

‘The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.’      Stanley J. Randall


That quote made me laugh. It’s so true!! Having looked at various CVs and application forms in my time, I can attest to that statement being a fact.


Perfection is a curious thing. We’ve talked quite a bit about it this week. We can aspire for perfection and that in itself is a wonderful thing. Where things to start to get murky is when we ask, what is perfect? Its definition varies for everyone, and almost 100% likely, what perfection looks like will change, thereby moving those goal posts. Much as it should be aspirational, I wonder if it can also be horrifically overwhelming a goal to constantly try and attain and incredibly burdensome?


Having now been a coach for several years, and even more having worked in business for nearly 20 years (I know, I look like I’m still 25…), I can safely say that I have never seen perfection at work. This isn’t to say that I worked in Losersville.com – in fact the very opposite. I was surrounded by successful, flourishing businesses and people. However, no matter how excellent the quality of work I saw, there was never perfection, whatever perfection looks like. And yet, why do people keep striving for it to the point of burnout and ridiculousness? The amount of clients with whom I work, who display these tendencies is really high, and they keep coming.


So what might a perfectionist look like?[1]


  • All or nothing thinking – will accept nothing less than perfection
  • Critical Eye – more critical of themselves and of others
  • Push vs Pull – tend to be pushed towards a goal for fear of not reaching it
  • Unrealistic Standards – goals are often not reasonable
  • Focus on Results – no enjoyment of the process of growing
  • Depressed by Unmet Goals – beat themselves up & wallow in negative if goals are not met
  • Fear of Failure – petrified of failing which in turns pushes them to strive for more perfection
  • Defensiveness – take criticism badly
  • Low Self-Esteem – tend to be self-critical and unhappy


Case Study


‘I need some help to getting my team to raise their standards. The quality of work is fine but it could be so much better. They are successful on their own and their teams are performing well but I just don’t think that they are delivering as well as I expect them too.’ This was the opening conversation with T when we starting our coaching process. On the surface, it seemed like a leadership/teamwork focus for us. However, as our conversation continued, it was clear that T had a far bigger problem in hand.


Nothing was good enough for her – the performance from her team, the demands she made of herself and of people in other divisions. From a 360 survey I did, she was known for being hypercritical, aggressive, domineering, a micro manager who pushed and pushed her various teams and did not listen well. Her quest for perfection stalled delivery on all projects including the most menial of tasks. Her relationships at work were fractured, as they were at home. She rarely made it back home till past midnight almost every night and weekends were spent working too.


The irony of it all being that her performance started to suffer because no one was delivering because all their work had to be checked by her and usually completely redone. The reality was that her senior team were extremely successful in their own right and were doing an excellent job. The business was on the up and up and hired her to take it even further. However, all she ended up doing was reduce excellent productivity which led to chaos and poor results.


As we worked through the challenges, T fully admitted to being a perfectionist. She felt that it accurately reflected her and she could not understand why anyone would not want to be a perfectionist. In fact, she openly scoffed at those who shied away from the label, as if to say their work would be less than mediocre. So focused on her version of the bigger picture of achieving perfection, she lost sight of the actual bigger picture, which was to deliver on her mandate to a high, but not perfect standard.


Once T started to look at her thought process re: perfectionism and her need for it with a different lense, it started to make more sense to her. And our work started to reap rewards. It wasn’t an easy journey and at times, we could see T lapse back into old thinking but she was determined to change the outcomes, and therefore needed to change her thinking.


So how can you help beat perfectionism?


Rather than describe it myself, I attach here an excellent article on the very subject. In short:


  • Be a healthy perfectionist, not a neurotic one
  • Remove the all or nothing mindset
  • Avoid the perfectionist’s mindset, ie go for 80/20
  • Learn to respect and love yourself
  • Use your ideals as guides not absolutes
  • Value your relationships
  • Celebrate every progress, success and failure
  • Delegate and let go


It isn’t very easy to let go of the need to be perfect and achieve perfection. This article merely skims the surface. The reasons why people strive for perfection really vary and those need to be addressed too. However, with this brief introduction, I hope you will see that perfectionism itself will not necessarily lead to the achievement of your goals and even if they are achieved, at what cost?


‘If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content. ‘

Leo Tolstoy





Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk



#perfectionism #perfectionist #perfect #emotionalintelligence #empathy #selfmanagement #awareness #selfawareness #effectivecommunication #perseverance #grit #leadership #womeninbusiness #femaleboss #womeninleadership #diversity #startuplife #resilience #journal #psychology # #personaldevelopment #strengths #corporatecoaching #wellness #wellbeing #health #mindbodysoul #LondonLife #entrepreneurs #startups #thrivewithkaren #mindfulness #performance #culture #achievement #executivecoaching #csuite #boards #boardevaluation

[1] https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-may-be-a-perfectionist-3145233

22 Nov

Relationships? Who needs them?

‘91% of employees say communication issues drag executives down.. a striking lack of emotional intelligence among business leaders.’      Forbes – Interact/Harris Poll


This week, we have briefly introduced the fourth facet of what contributes to emotional intelligence – Relationship Management. We can be very self-aware and manage our emotions well. We can even have great empathy for others but if we don’t motivate or persuade, encourage others, effect change, handle discord or collaborate well, then it can all be for not a lot. Unless you’re the last person left standing on earth, you will have to encounter others and have relationships with them. Humans are meant to be social beings and as such, you’ll inevitably have some kind of relations with them. Ensuring that those connections are healthy ones will make all the difference in the world.


When coaching clients, this aspect of emotional intelligence is often the one found to be in the greatest need of development. Most people have good intentions. Once they are aware of what needs work or how others might be interpreting certain situations or behaviours, they are keen to effect change. The reality though is that many think that they have good relationships – that they communicate clearly and well, that they inspire others and are generally good at encouraging others. However, when we properly examine some of those relationships through the coaching process, we learn that things are not what they seem or what the coachees assume.


Recently I spoke at an event on the topic of ‘Harnessing Curiosity to drive your Career’ at the CFA Institute. As an experiment, I said the word ‘green’ and went round the room to ask what people’s interpretation was of the word. Some were literal in the colour (but what shade?), one thought about money, another envisaged the environment and another pictured trees. The point here being that we may think we are on the same page, but we may not be. This is true for so many of my coaching clients, whether they are working on being better leaders, looking for a promotion or managing their teams to greater efficiency and performance. All this requires effective emotional intelligence and relationship management.


‘85-90% of leadership success is linked to social and emotional intelligence’ Korn Ferry


Case Study

Client E has been a leader for a long time and has a great relationship with her team of senior leaders. They like her and respect her work ethic. She communicates well with them and they trust her enough to come to her with issues when they encounter them. Sounds wonderful!


Problem is that this is the perception that E has. However, when we asked her team members, they said that yes, they liked her and admired her work ethic. They trusted her to look after them. However, they did not feel they understood her vision, if she had one at all. They also felt that she didn’t really understand them. Although she was articulate, not many seemed to really comprehend her objectives and as such, there was a lot of confusion and duplication of work. This resulted in her micro managing her team and undermining them, however unintentional. Due to some members of her team ‘getting’ her better whilst others did not, it resulted in some in-fighting and conflict amongst team members which further reduced productivity. E’s workload increased because she had to get her team’s ‘subpar’ work done, thereby not delivering on her own objectives. The irony of it all.


The work we did was extensive but a large part of it was focused on her emotional intelligence. As we are discussing managing relationships today, I’ll break it down below with reference to E.


What is Relationship Management?


  • Inspiration – having an explicit and compelling vision that resounds with others bringing about confidence, imagination and drive. Often it’s about leading by example.

In E’s case, she thought she was leading by example by working hard alongside her team. However this only works if you’re setting the right example.

  • Influence – being able to persuade and interest others through respect that has been earned

E did have some of their respect but not wholly. As she was unclear with her vision and only had partial respect, she encountered more resistance to her plans than expected.

  • Develop Others – showing true interest in others. Listening, encouraging & helping them learn and grow to further themselves

E had every intention of doing this and thought she was by having frequent one-on-one catchups. However, one has to actively listen to understand how to help develop these individuals. It may take time but the outcome has far more solid foundations for the future.

  • Change Catalyst – people who incentivize change when needed tend to have earned the respect of those they lead.   They are able to make compelling arguments, have a clear vision, take feedback and act in collaboration with others to ensure no parties are left disenfranchised.

E wanted to enact change for her team but was unable to put forward a compelling enough argument to take everyone forward with her.

  • Conflict Management – the ability to manage difficult situations without further inciting unhealthy emotions and behaviours. Conflict, if healthy, is a positive, constructive and necessary part of growth.

However managing that was hard for E because she was too busy doing others’ work and micromanaging their work, as opposed to managing her team. Simple conversations snowballed into emotional outbursts and tantrums.

  • Teamwork and Collaboration – leaders should model respect, helpfulness and cooperation in this domain, which in turn inspires effective, exuberant engagement to the mutual effort. It’s also about recognizing others’ talents and contributions and helping them use those for the greater good.

E had all the best of intentions to work with her team and to a certain extent, it worked well. However, through a less effective outcome from the above points, active and enthusiastic engagement from the team was low.


A lot of hard work…


came from E and she finally saw light at the end of the tunnel after much work by her. A lot of her disappointment came from the fact that it looked like she didn’t care for and believe in the team. The opposite was true but it takes objectivity, a large dose of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and relationship management to ensure that team turns into the high-performing executive function that it can be.


With E, we went through all six points carefully, observed, reviewed and analysed what was working and what wasn’t. It took several iterations and a lot of time & effort to achieve the results that she did. It required a lot of undoing of established thinking and actual habits. However, the endeavour was worth it. Her executive team has gone from strength to strength, and so has she.


Hopefully this very brief introduction to emotional intelligence and the 4 facets that make it up have offered you some food for thought. I cannot stress how important it is to you, your wellbeing and your relationship with others. All you have to do is listen to others talk about how p.issed off they are at work with a boss/colleague/employee/client, or how they’ve had an unhealthy row with someone at home – you’ll find that EQ (or rather a lack of) will feature very highly there.


Good luck! Go forth and be more emotionally intelligent. You’ll have a much happier, more fruitful and productive life!!!





Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk



#emotionalintelligence #relationshipmanagement #communication #empathy #selfmanagement #inspire #influence #collaboration #change #developothers #conflictmanagement #teamworkd #selfawareness #effectivecommunication #perseverance #grit #leadership #womeninbusiness #femaleboss #womeninleadership #diversity #startuplife #resilience #journal #psychology # #personaldevelopment #strengths #corporatecoaching #wellness #wellbeing #health #mindbodysoul #LondonLife #entrepreneurs #startups #thrivewithkaren #mindfulness #performance #culture #achievement #executivecoaching #csuite #boards #boardevaluation

15 Nov

Shake Them Haters Off

29% of people interviewed in a survey said that they had been victims of bullying (YouGov) – ie nearly 3 in every 10 people. As a number that adds up to 9m people – larger than the combined populations of Scotland and Wales.


60% of people admitted to either being bullied or witnessing others being bullied in the workplace (Unison).


And the true figures are likely to be more and on the rise.


What does bullying at the workplace look like?


We’ve seen it in the playground and sometimes even by parents at the school gates. At work, they can come in different forms and I will list some below. It is important to remember that this abuse can come in the form of physical and more likely at work, mental & emotional anguish. Its effects can be devastating.


Loosely put, bullying is considered a persistent and intentional series of actions that work to break down the self-esteem of an individual. While this might traditionally happen face-to-face, the increasing accessibility to technology means that modern day communication channels can also be used to domineer colleagues.

Types of workplace bullying include:

  • Exclusion
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Verbal insults (direct and indirect)
  • Rumour spreading
  • Purposely preventing career advancement
  • Threats in relation to job security
  • Humiliation
  • Being overly critical



There are some grey areas whereby person A might perceive particular behaviours to be bullying but observers and/or perpetrators might not. Either way, A should be given the room and respect to speak up and perpetrators should be willing to listen and adjust behaviours even if it does not make immediate sense. This is about respect for others.


Additionally, certain behaviours might seem innocuous. The odd jibe which is laughed off as a ‘joke’ and it is implied that the person hasn’t a sense of humour. However these jibes add up and if there is a constant attacking of a person, then this constitutes as bullying.


So what? Who cares about these whiners?


Well, as a business, this will impact you via

  • Increased absenteeism and presenteeism
  • Higher staff turnover resulting in productivity and recruitment & training costs
  • Generally lower productivity and performance issues
  • Low employee engagement and staff morale
  • Lack of trust and respect for management
  • Poor relations between employer-employee
  • A bad reputation which will ultimately impact sales


And for employees

  • Increased stress
  • Poor mental health
  • Ill physical health
  • Sub standard performance and productivity
  • Lower employee engagement and motivation


Costing UK businesses c£18bn per year, likely more. 91% of employees do not think that bullying is handled at all appropriately in the UK.


Case Study

R works at a boutique firm. He was asked to join for his work ethic, network connections and his drive. For about 6 months, he was encouraged to do his job well and left to his own devices. Then the tide turned and suddenly his every move was monitored, picked apart, questioned and destroyed. If he hit his sales targets, the targets were moved. If he went out to see clients, he was told that he should be at the desk. If he was at his desk, they asked him why he was not out there generating more business. His colleagues frequently spoke in their native tongue in front of him and about him. The relentless nature of the attacking lasted 4 years and it severely affected his physical and mental health. By the time I saw him, he was a shell of his former self. Lacking in confidence, nervous, angry, bitter and sad.


From the conversations, it transpired that his immediate line manager had a beef with R. R’s numbers infinitely outnumbered the manager’s and the manager clearly saw R as a threat, instead of seeing R as an asset and one to be encouraged. Surely if R performs, the team wins and therefore the firm wins and line manager can look like a hero for hiring and nurturing R. No such luck. The behaviour got worse as the bullying spread throughout the firm. Culturally, people felt insecure and there wasn’t a strong team environment. Every man for himself and all that. So R had nowhere to go even when he raised these issues firstly with his line manager and HR. In fact, HR went so far as to reprimand him for daring to speak out, as well as raising it with the CEO who then gave R an earful. What a great and healthy company to work for – can’t wait to send my application form in…. In this case, there was clear evidence of bullying by an individual but also one within a particular culture. Not surprisingly, R resigned and is now a much happier person.


What to do if you’re being bullied


Theoretically, the law is on your side but bullying is very hard to prove.


  • Speak to the person who is bullying you. There is every chance he/she has no idea that you are being bullied by them. A chance needs to be given to them to change. And incidentally, it might take awhile to observe any meaningful changes, especially if they didn’t realize they were ‘bullying’ you in the first place
  • Raise it with HR and get them to help you come up with a plan for tackling the issue. Be mindful of the fact that HR is there to represent the firm. This is not to say they are taking sides but that they will not automatically believe your story just because you say so. Their priority is to ensure that procedures have been followed and that your accusation is treated fairly. They will investigate and depending on the questions they ask, as well as the manner in which the enquiry is being made, you might find yourself happy with the conclusions found, or sorely disappointed. Do ensure that appropriate actions points on recommended changes have been followed after the investigation. Even if they find no fault on the part of the alleged perpetrator, there is nothing wrong with you asking for some changes in behaviour.
  • Raise it with someone senior and get them to help you raise the issue
  • Gather evidence. Sadly with bullying it is very hard to prove especially if it is done through subtly. Eg it is difficult to prove that you were genuinely overlooked for that promotion if someone else was apparently better qualified. However if your case is true, you can prove it through other means as well eg persistent bullying. Emails, witnesses, descriptions of incidents all help.


If you are a witness, do something about it, like support the person being bullied. Take notes down as evidence which helps. Don’t be a coward and pretend you haven’t observed such toxic behaviour.


Sadly sometimes it is untenable for the person being bullied to stay. They may or may not have won the battle but to continue working with the perpetrator may prove too difficult. Do work as much as you can with the organization to try and find a suitable solution for you and your career. However, sometimes, you might be better off leaving a toxic environment. Only you can decide that for yourself.



Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk



#bullying #workplacebullying #kindness #resilience #emotionalintelligence #relationshipmanagement #communication #empathy #conflictmanagement #perseverance #grit #leadership #womeninbusiness #femaleboss #womeninleadership #diversity #startuplife #journal #psychology # #personaldevelopment #strengths #corporatecoaching #wellness #wellbeing #health #mindbodysoul #LondonLife #entrepreneurs #startups #thrivewithkaren #mindfulness #performance #culture #achievement #executivecoaching #csuite #boards #boardevaluation

08 Nov

‘The Drugs Don’t Work’

A song that portrays empathy very well, as Richard Ashcroft sings about his father dying in a hospital.


So aside from today’s rather sombre opening, let me introduce you to the third facet of emotional intelligence (first two being self-awareness and self-regulation) – social awareness. In short, we can be very aware of who we are and manage those well. In a world where only you exist, that would be rather perfect. However, the bad news is that there are others running around and in order for our relationships at work and at play to thrive, we need a large dose of social awareness.


What does that even mean?


‘When I meet people I shake their hands and say hi’ – that’s social awareness isn’t it? Well, that is a good start but there is a whole lot more to it than just mere pleasantries. For example, how often do you actually listen to the answer when you ask ‘How are you?’




The ability to ascertain and connect a vast number of emotional cues – be they through active listening – words, tone, language; visual but unspoken signals. The ability to see others’ perspectives even if not ever experienced, fully understood or even agreed upon.


Being Attuned


It’s about resonating with others and you with them. This can bring about alignment which will help bring about constructive and collaborative change and growth. These are people who are aligned with each other.


Organisational Awareness


No man or even team is an island. One has to be politically and socially conscious of what is happening within and without the team. Knowing the dynamics of people, how they work & interact and where & how the power works and with whom. This may sound Machiavellian but this is more about being astute and aware as opposed to naïve and a pawn.




Healthy and emotionally intelligent leaders recognize the power of a satisfied or dissatisfied employee, colleague or client and your role in keeping them happy, engaged and motivated.


What happens to the Socially Unaware?


Case Study

F is a very successful sales person. He has a team that is also performing well and are well regarded by senior management. Because of this internal and external success, F does not feel any need to particularly engage with his team aside from daily pleasantries and attending team meetings. Even then, the team meetings are at best, barely functional. To date, there has been little effort to get F to change his behaviour or improve the quality of his interactions with his team because they are delivering on their mandate.


The problem here is that as the team is growing and they have more successes under their belt, they are experiencing growing pains. New hires, reduced communication, overlapping duties, unclear objectives for some and risks to the business are increasing for there is little oversight. The mantra to date being, ‘If you sell and hit your targets, that’s all you need to do and you will be rewarded handsomely’.


F doesn’t know his team well and doesn’t care to. If the objective is achieved and achieved well, why does he need to? The problem is that with the growing pains of his team, most feel that aside from monetary recognition, there is no other recognition of their work. They often feel directionless, as if they are working on a factory conveyor with no real reason to be there. They might as well move to a different team or firm which has more perceived potential growth and interaction. The team members want to feel valued. They want to contribute with their own ideas as to how to help the team grow more sustainably and for the long-term. To be dismissed to mere sales target robots is demotivating for the team.


Additionally, the team members don’t know how to collaborate well together and are often competing for the same business due to a lack of clear vision and direction. F has no interest in listening to the people on the team and the signs of strain are showing.


F and I worked really hard on his listening and empathy skills. We had to get him to want to do this in the first place and thereafter to continue to do so, with little judgment and cynicism. Funnily enough, with a little practice, F started really flourishing in this area. He did not have any ill-intent in his reluctance to collaborate. He was just very introverted and thought that his sole objective was to deliver on sales. He did not feel he needed to be a better leader throughout this process if the numbers were being met.


With his hard work, F has now built a more robust, collaborative, healthy communicating team. It has grown substantially but with very grounded values and principles surrounding their growth.


And it all started with a little more self- and social awareness!!!




Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk



#emotionalintelligence #socialawareness #organisationalawareness #empathy #beingattuned #selfawareness #effectivecommunication #careergoals #jobsatisfaction #perseverance #grit #leadership #womeninbusiness #femaleboss #womeninleadership #diversity #startuplife #resilience #journal #psychology # #personaldevelopment #strengths #corporatecoaching #wellness #wellbeing #health #mindbodysoul #LondonLife #entrepreneurs #startups #thrivewithkaren #mindfulness #selfcare #fun #performance #culture #confidence #achievement #selfesteem #executivecoaching #selfconfidence #csuite #boards #boardevaluation

01 Nov

‘You take my self, you take my self control’

Emotional self-regulation – part 2 of the Emotional Intelligence series. What on earth is this woman on about now? It all sounds way too much to take on board. Last week, we talked about self-awareness and the importance of knowing oneself. Now, we have to regulate ourselves too? Isn’t there too much regulation out there already, let alone having to police myself???


Well, here it is. It’s all well and good embarking on the journey of self-awareness and getting to know oneself better through time. Most of the things you learn about yourself, I imagine you like. It’s good to know those things about yourself, when you are in flow, when you’re not. For those who have worked with me, you’ll know I focus a lot on strengths, as well as what derails you. And yet, just because you know yourself well, it does not mean that you manage yourself well. It’s like you’re a well-honed vehicle. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Do you bring an Aston Martin to plough a field? This may seem like a stupid analogy but you’ll be surprised how often people don’t self regulate and therefore make themselves redundant. By not self-managing, it will inevitably cause upset in oneself and anyone else in your vicinity.


So what might it look like if we don’t self-regulate?


Case Study 1

Client A has a very promising career and is on track for yet another promotion. The quality of his work is outstanding and the organization wants to keep him. He has already been highlighted as ‘One to Watch’ on the talent management scheme. The problem is that the organization is a little stuck. Although A’s work is superior, as is his enthusiasm; his general attitude towards others, especially towards those who disagree with his ideas, are treated with disdain and contempt. It doesn’t take much for A to lose his temper if things do not progress as he expects. Neither does A take kindly to individuals from other departments pushing for different outcomes or slightly differing perspectives on joint projects.


A is insistent that the aggression is noted but he ‘owns it’. To him, it means getting things done for the sake of the project and the business. ‘If people are too slow or stupid then I don’t want them on my team’. So he’s self aware(ish). However, it is clear that knowing such information isn’t helping him at all. There is little to no effort to self-regulate the aggression. In fact, the converse. A thinks it is a good thing to let rip and tell people they’re idiots and not worthy contributors.


The result being that A has not only lost the respect of his co-workers and peers, he has been viewed by seniors as having project but not leadership potential. Even then, the assumptions A makes are that the project only has one method of process (A’s) and that he is the only person qualified to measure the factors and variables relevant to each project. He doesn’t think he has to explain his thought process to others and if he does deign to listen to others, he is also judge and jury.


Not only has A not considered that there are other perspectives which may or may not improve the quality of the project, he has also lost the goodwill factor and loyalty that may allow people to be supporters of his, if he were to become a leader. He knows he is aggressive and that he does not listen to or play well with others. He doesn’t care. The fact is, this aggression and egoistical way of working has emphatically delayed, possibly permanently, his journey into the executive level. Additionally, some projects have not been as successful as initially thought – due to fast and efficient delivery but not necessarily sustainable solutions.


Case Study 2

Client B is a self-professed considered, well-mannered and thoughtful lady. She has had much success in her career and is doing well professionally. However, her relationships at work are strained and those have resulted in her having a lot of conflict at work.


Interesting, for a supposed considered, well-mannered and thoughtful lady. On the surface, this seems to be the case. However, when one scratches the surface as we review the conversations she has with others, they are filled with muttered comments, eye-rolling, patronizing insults and barbs. In B’s eyes though, if they are said politely, then that is OK. She is being helpful to them after all, by giving them feedback to help them along. However, if the tables are turned and feedback is given to her, she holds on to the rage and resentment like me clutching those PB&J doughnuts. She won’t let go (and neither will I!).


For her, she is being thoughtful by giving others feedback. Whether or not it is warranted. Additionally, when playing back the conversations, the tone is condescending and directive, as opposed to coaching and supportive. In that sense, I ask, how do the words ‘thoughtful’ and ‘considered’ fit in here? What is ‘well-mannered’ about giving feedback when not requested nor required? How self-aware is she and what might the outcome look like if she were to manage her emotions better?


So what does self-regulation look like?


Mindful and Transparent

These are people who are present, aware of their emotions, what is happening at the time and are focused on themselves, others, their work and their circumstances, mindfully. Those with emotional self-control can manage their inner turmoil well, even in high-stress situations – be they internal or external factors. They are leaders who don’t succumb to their inner impulses or chaotic emotions. They self-manage and channel that energy into something constructive. They act, not react.


Resilient and Optimistic

People who recover from setbacks, take lessons from whatever happened and they move forward. They do not carry baggage from earlier disappointments. They don’t hold grudges. They tend to be thoughtfully optimistic and err towards constructive vs negative behaviours.



Individuals who look at people, situations and challenges with an open and curious mind. They are not unhealthily wedded to ideas or rigid processes for the sake of it. They adapt to change and are comfortable with ambiguity.



They tend to take charge of their own destiny and know they have a sense of control over their fate. They keep moving forward and find ways to make things happen.


Responsible Accountability

They accept responsibility for what they can control and will not do so for what they cannot, ie they have a healthy relationship with accountability.



Looking at the two case studies, you will see that neither A or B tick any of the boxes above for self-management. Perhaps a little initiative, and even then its not over oneself and one’s emotions but a case of deflection. Both cases were really interesting ones. With a little bit of coaching, they started to learn to self-manage their emotions, first from being mindful and aware of them in the first instance.


Emotional self-regulation is one of the hardest to manage, especially if brimming and overflowing with emotions and impulses. With some practice, lots of mindfulness and a will to adopt new habits, this should become a lot easier!


Good luck!




Karen Kwong is a highly experienced executive & business coach who has worked with start-ups and social enterprises through to large established corporates (including FTSE100 companies) across a number of industries including financial services, engineering, retail and media & communications. She also advises boards on their dynamics. Added to this, she spent almost twenty years working at a senior level in fund management. She also has a Masters in Organisational Psychology. For more please see here or contact her at: info@renoc.co.uk



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