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Rhodé Zwijnenburg
Rhodé Zwijnenburg

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Three easy tips to become a successful developer, by getting to know your feelings

To become successful, having well developed emotional intelligence is key, especially as a developer. Emotional intelligence is proven to be very important in becoming more successful, increasing your physical health and psychological health and for becoming a better leader[1]. So that is quite a lot. I’m very curious to see if there are people who after reading the list above think: "Nah, I don’t want to be in good psychological health and I quite like being stressed out all the time". So if you’re an actual human that wants to feel good and succeed in life, keep on reading. The good news is that emotional intelligence, unlike IQ, can be learned ! So what is emotional intelligence (also called EI or EQ) exactly?

Emotional intelligence is

  • Being able to identify your own emotions and those of others
  • Being able to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior
  • Manage and/or adjust emotions from yourself and others to adapt to environments or achieve goals[2].

For these three topics, there are some easy and practical tips to achieve those things by increasing your emotional intelligence. In this blog I will provide you with tips to get to know your own feelings. Recognizing your own feelings is an important step to develop your Emotional Intelligence and becoming more successful. In upcoming posts, we will look at the other aspects too. But be warned before you read further, it’s about emotions…!

Get to know your own feelings

  1. Observe the emotions you experience during one meeting at work. You’ll be surprised how many emotions you may experience, even during one short meeting. For instance: When playing planning poker you feel a little ashamed when the whole team has given a task 5 points, but you thought it was 20. Or being annoyed and a little angry when someone is talking through your fantastic plea. Or feeling frustrated and bored, because the discussion went on a tangent and is taking sooooo long etc.
  2. Get to know all the feelings. Most of the time we only use basic emotions which does not always do justice to what you feel in reality. You’re saying a lot more if you are able to say that you feel bad about a plan because you are disappointed in the quality of it, rather than if you would only say you feel bad about it. Feeling bad about something could also mean that you are sceptical, offended, nervous or disinterested about the idea, which has very different implications for the handling of the original idea. This website gives an example of a lot more feelings. Try to expand your vocabulary on emotions, so that you are able to express yourself better and to become better in detecting the feelings of others.
  3. Be honest to yourself: see where you excel, but also where your weaknesses are. Try to feel and accept feelings you are less proud of, like jealousy or insecurity. Most of the time we try very hard not to feel these emotions, because we think they are bad. But the emotions themselves are not inherently wrong, it’s about the actions you might undertake because of those emotions which could be bad. Do you know your own biggest fears? And no, I’m not talking about some mild fear or spiders. Most people fear failure, loss, being judged, losing control, losing identity or fear of who they really are. Find your biggest fears, feel them, however uncomfortable, and accept those feelings. This is important, because suppressed feelings result in undesirable behavior. For example, when you fear failure and retrieve critical feedback from your reviewer, you’ll question his knowledge. You’ll ignore his feedback, instead of trying to learn from the feedback and adjust the code in a better way.

It’s possible to develop your emotional intelligence, by getting to know your own emotions.
Three practical tips to achieve this are

  1. Observing your own emotions
  2. Getting to know all the feelings
  3. Being honest to yourself. Doing this can help you become a more complete and successful human and developer

Tips to get to know feelings of others and learning the impact that you have on others will be given in my next blog posts.

[1] Black, P. H., & Garbutt, L. D. (2002). Stress, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. The Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 52, 1–23.
[2] Colman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press. Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books, Inc. Retrieved from

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