“Leave your emotions at home or outside the gate.” That was one of the rules taught to me when I entered the construction industry almost thirty years ago. When attending a regional construction group conference several years ago, I saw on the agenda that someone would be speaking on emotional intelligence and had immediate thoughts of disdain. I internally questioned why we would be having a speaker talking about emotions at a construction conference. The irony of having the emotion of disdain while questioning this subject.

After learning more about Emotional Intelligence or EQ, I discovered that leaving my emotions anywhere is an impossibility. I may be a crusty old construction worker but I am also a human being with emotions.

I have also realized that emotional intelligence isn’t being emotional, it is understanding that we have emotions, and we need to recognize how these emotions affect our relationships and careers. Emotions can help you or they can hurt you. You get to choose if your emotion provokes a thoughtful response or a hasty reaction.

Categories of Emotions

During EQ training I have seen emotions separated into two categories: Positive and Negative. I understand this breakdown of emotions, however, I have changed my thinking and created new categories for myself. I will share those categories later. For now, I want you to think of different types of emotions:

Excitement, Rage, Happiness, Pain, Regret, Bored, Anger, Surprise, Disgust, etc.

Think about how you feel when you experience these emotions. Your feelings will be different based on your environment and past experiences when you felt the emotion.

A few years ago, I experienced the loss of a loved one. This was painful and I was sad due to this loss. However, I decided these uncomfortable emotions were timely and I should soak in them for the appropriate time given the circumstances. Too often we convince ourselves we should stay in the positive. Raw and uncomfortable emotions are natural, sometimes they will help you through difficult times. Yes, tough guy or gal, it is ok to cry and feel remorse. Don’t suppress your negative or uncomfortable emotions.

Understanding Emotions

Once I gave myself permission, I decided that I would create two emotion categories: Comfortable and Uncomfortable. I now work to recognize the emotion and consider: Is this the correct emotion for the situation I am in? There are times when anger is an appropriate emotion. There are other times when joy is an appropriate emotion.

Gaining an understanding of your emotions and how to manage them will reduce stress in your life.

Proactive Response

In the famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Covey shares the Proactive Model; this is a great example of how to use EQ.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” – Author Unknown

Give careful thought to how to respond or whether to respond to your emotions. Think about the impact your response will have on others. Too often on a construction job site, we feel like we have a license to respond and react at will with no consideration of others.

Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

Using emotional intelligence will prevent you from “settling things in the parking lot” or “giving them a piece of your mind” (Do you have the mind to spare?) When you become self-aware of how to manage your emotions you will reduce stress in your life, and you will create less stress for others.

Being socially aware will allow you to “read the room” and recognize the moods of others. You can use your skills to show empathy and understanding. You will be able to think from others’ points of view and communicate with a voice and tone of understanding.


Listen to a podcast: Engaging Emotions with Language


Recognizing my emotions as comfortable and uncomfortable has allowed me to give myself grace in trying times. I would encourage you to read books and take courses on emotional intelligence and improve your self-awareness and social awareness. It will be the catalyst to improve and develop trusted relationships.