Emotional Intelligence is a phrase that’s fairly common now, especially in some workplaces. If you don’t have a clear idea of what it means, but haven’t liked to ask, then this is for you. And if you think that you’re either born with it or not, then it’s for you as well.
Emotional Intelligence (sometimes abbreviated to EQ) is the ability to be aware of, control, and express your emotions, and to be aware of and manage other peoples’ emotions. What is interesting about Emotional Intelligence is that
- it’s a better predictor of academic success at university than previous academic performance
- it’s a better predictor of success in work than aptitude tests
- it’s a better predictor for personal satisfaction and ‘success’ in life than any other, including income and health
The welcome news about such a potentially powerful force in our lives is that our Emotional Intelligence isn’t fixed. We can continue to improve and expand it throughout our life – and it’s never too soon or too late in life to start.
The best place to start is with the first of four areas – ‘Self Awareness”. People who are high in self-awareness are clear about what they do well and what motivates them. They are also able to identify their emotions with accuracy. So they won’t describe themselves as simply ‘angry’ – they might be enraged, offended, agitated or perturbed, but whatever they are they recognise the nuances of their feelings.
Once you have “Self Awareness” you can develop more “Self Management”. Having recognized what you’re feeling and why you learn to make a conscious decision about whether that affects your behaviour. The real results come from consistently putting your momentary needs on hold to pursue larger longer-term goals.
Focus now turns away from your inner dialogue and behaviour and onto others – “Social Awareness”, the third of the four areas. Listening and observing are the essential skills needed for this, and with time you become able to be engaged socially but observe yourself and others at the same time.
Finally we have “Managing Others”. This isn’t about manipulating other people, it’s about developing relationships that grow over time and where both parties’ needs are satisfied. It relies heavily on the other three Emotional Intelligence areas
- Self Awareness skills to notice your feelings and judge if your needs are being satisfied
- Self Management skills to express your feelings and act appropriately
- Social Awareness skills to better understand the other persons’ needs and feelings
If this has piqued your interest then the best place to start further reading is “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. It also includes a test so that you can see where your existing strengths are in the four different areas.
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