Emotional intelligence is something that all of us should spend our entire life striving to improve. Very few people will be naturals but the important thing is that we all make a concerted effort to become better at it.
Emotional intelligence is having the ability to understand and regulate your emotions. It also includes being able to read and understand what others are feeling and expressing. When you are emotionally intelligent you’re able to communicate effectively, empathize with your co-workers, and diffuse conflicts that arise, all of which are important skills to have when interacting with others socially or in the workplace.
Being emotionally intelligent encompasses four attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and good relationship management skills.
Self-awareness is being able to recognize your own emotions and how they may affect your own behavior. Part of being self-aware means that you can recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, understand how to utilize your strengths.
Self-management involves how you might control your emotions, feelings, and possible impulsive behaviors. When you are self-aware you recognize your emotions and when you can self-manage you see those emotions and are able to direct them in ways that are positive and productive. Being able to self-manage also indicates that you will be able to adapt to changing circumstances in the workplace. I still struggle when it comes to these concepts. Too often, I let my emotions get in the way of rational thoughts. The key is realizing my weakness and willingly continue to work through the weakness.
The next two attributes involve some external abilities.
Social awareness involves seeing others’ emotions and concerns, being able to properly understand communication, body language, and being able to pick up on social cues. Social awareness helps people to be able to pick up on power dynamics within organizations, as well as be comfortable in social settings.
Relationship management involves using your social awareness skills to communicate, develop positive relationships, maintain those relationships and inspire and influence your co-workers or employees. When you have good relationship management, you are able to work well in a team and manage conflict in ways that move the team or organization towards its goal.
Someone with emotional intelligence can inspire and motivate others. Many organizations are now using emotional intelligence tests for their incoming candidates. It is becoming a popular idea and some believe can be even more important than IQ or technical abilities.
There are some basic techniques that will help you be more emotionally intelligent:
- eye contact
- attention to nonverbal cues
- focus on the other person(s)
- use humor
- active listening
- focus on the present rather than past issues
- when asking questions-listen for the answer and try not to interrupt
- give yourself time to cool off before discussing an issue
- write your thoughts and feelings down to give yourself a chance to process them.
- perhaps a concept to keep in mind for increased opportunity in your employment, allowing better relationships with those in your life.
No matter how old/young we are, there is always room to improve our emotional intelligence. I have to continue to remind myself not to fire off that email reply while my emotions are still “talking” to me. No matter how “bothered” you are by a comment/email, remember to give yourself time to cool off before addressing the issue. Write down positive and negative thoughts so that you can best formulate a response that will make your point in a positive manner. There is always a way to turn a negative into a positive, the hard part is becoming good at finding that way.