What Is Emotional Intelligence?
This fairly new concept was developed in the 1990’s by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey, and was further popularized by the 1995 bestseller Emotional Intelligence, authored by science journalist Daniel Coleman. The term “emotional Intelligence” refers to “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” More simply put, emotional intelligence informs the ways we manage our own behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.
A high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) means that you can read people better and you are more aware of your own emotions, which you can in turn use to help fulfill your goals.
What is the difference between IQ and EQ?
IQ refers to your ability to learn and is the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. On the other hand, EQ (or EI as it is often referred to in the business world) is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice.
What skills make up Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is made up of Personal Competence and Social Competence.
Personal Competence consists of self-awareness, self-management and motivation. Self-Awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen. Self-Management and Motivation is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to control them, stay flexible and positively affect your behavior.
Social Competence consists of the ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior and motives and the use of that ability to improve the quality of relationships. It focuses on two key pairings: Empathy as it pertains to Social Awareness, and Social Skills as they pertain to Relationship Management. Empathy = Social Awareness is the ability to accurately pick up on emotional cues in other people and understand what is really going on in a given situation. Social Skills = Relationship Management is the ability to use awareness of your own emotions and the emotions of others to successfully manage interactions.
Emotional Intelligence and Performance in the Workplace
Emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence. 90% of top performers in the workplace also have high emotional intelligence.
How to Develop Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is the foundation for critical skills. The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. We feel emotions first and then we assign meaning to those feelings. Primary senses have to travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated, before reaching the front of the brain. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before we can think rationally about our experience. EQ is essentially a balance between the rational and emotional brain.
A single cell can grow 15,000 connections with its neighbors. This chain reaction of growth makes it easy to kick new behaviors into action in the future. Once you train your brain by repeatedly using new emotional intelligence strategies, emotionally intelligent behaviors become habits.
Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence – Looking Inward
Start with a self-evaluation. Are you willing to accept that you could work on some areas to make yourself a better person? If you have the courage to look at yourself honestly – it can change your life.
Examine how you react to stressful situations. Do you become upset every time there’s a delay or something doesn’t happen the way you want? Do you blame others or become angry at them, even when it’s not their fault? The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued in the business world and outside of it. Keep your emotions under control when things go wrong.
Take responsibility for your actions. If you hurt someone’s feelings, apologize directly and don’t ignore what you did or avoid the person. People are usually more willing to forgive and forget if you make an honest attempt to make things right.
Examine how your actions will affect others – before you take those actions. If your decision will impact others, put yourself in their place. How will they feel if you do this? Would you want that experience?
You don’t have much control over the emotions you experience in a given moment; However, you can control your reaction to those emotions by focusing on your thoughts.
Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence – Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Demonstrate empathy. Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with another person’s point of view. Rather, it’s about striving to understand, which allows you to build stronger and more connected relationships.
Show authenticity. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and sticking to your values and principles above all else.
Praise others. By sharing specifically what you appreciate, you inspire them to be the best version of themselves.
Give helpful feedback. Constructive feedback is intended to be helpful instead of harmful.
Benefit from criticism. By being open to criticism yourself, you are not only obtaining valuable information that will help you grow, you are setting a great example for others to be more open as well.
Forgive and forget. When you forgive and forget, you prevent others from holding your emotions hostage which allows you to move forward.
Help others. This builds trust and inspires others to follow your lead when it counts.
Honor your commitments. When you make a habit out of keeping your word, you develop a strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
Test Your Emotional Intelligence
Interested in testing your EQ? Here are some resources to check out: