“People are hired for their intellect and business expertise and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence.” – Daniel Goleman
Despite the popularity of this term, there are still many misunderstandings of what Emotional Intelligence (EQ) stands for. EQ is not limited to being sociable. It refers to how we handle our emotions and relationships. It is also about our ability to understand our feelings, and how it may affect others.
Another way of defining EQ that comes from one of the articles of the Huff Post is: “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”
The term of Emotional Intelligence was initiated in 1990 by the psychologists, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer. Later, Daniel Goleman, a model for teaching EQ, popularized their work in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.
Research proved a positive correlation between emotional intelligence and career success. It is something we are not born with, but we can improve it with practice. According to Forbes articles, 90% of top performers are in the high degree of EQ, and 20% of top performers are with high IQ (Intelligence Quotient). This implies that our success does not depend on our technical skills or our level of intelligence quotient, but particularly on our emotional intelligence.
Today, we can assess our degree of EQ through the way we handle our emotions when driving, in conflict management, in stressful situations, or simply when interacting with people who don’t necessarily agree with us or hold the same beliefs and opinions.
Emotional intelligence, based on Daniel Goleman’s approach, encompasses four main components. It starts with understanding our own emotions (self-awareness), so that we can manage them effectively (self-regulation). Once we develop the capacity to understand and manage ourselves, then we enhance our understanding to the emotions and feelings of others (empathy). This way, we can communicate and interact better (social skills).
Self-awareness is a complete understanding of what makes us angry, makes us happy, bothers, and motivates us. It is about a clear perception of the personality, strengths, skills, weaknesses, beliefs, attitude, and emotions.
Self-awareness is the basic skill to leadership and management.
“There is one quality that trumps all, evident in every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.” – Anthony K. Tjan, HBR writer
To become self-aware, you need first to be in an open mind state to accept to do better and accept positive or negative constructive feedback from others. You can ask close friends or family, who are able to provide you with a precise, objective feedback, regarding your unique abilities or weaknesses.
The benefits of self-awareness are considerable. Knowing yourself makes you secure, peaceful, motivated, and confident. It enables you to enhance your way of managing conflicts, and communication.
Self-regulation is about the way you handle your emotions in a stressful environment. If you are angry, or frustrated, what do you do to control your anger? Do you have the capacity to self-regulate your negative feeling or do you project it on others?
Obviously, you can’t always control the situations or the circumstances making you feel in a certain way, but you can always control the way you react to it.
Anger, frustration, or any other negative emotion can always serve us for something. Some people will use these emotions for self-motivation to accomplish their goals and passions; others will remain stuck in negative thoughts, which will cripple them and get them into a series of other problems.
Empathy is another component of emotional intelligence that involves knowing more about people’s feelings. It is the ability to look at a problem or a situation from a different perspective. It is also the capacity to communicate and lead by understanding others’ feelings, opinions, and thoughts.
Recognizing your own feelings will help you develop empathy towards others. Empathy creates synergies, acceptance, and positive energy and often leads to stronger relationships and quality of life. It makes you better listener, and more Human.
“Empathy is the essential building block for compassion. We have to sense what another person is going through, what they are feeling, in order to spark compassion.” – Daniel Goleman
Social skills or social management is the result of all the skills above put together in order to enhance our communication and make our relationships more effective. Social skills involve the application of empathy and understanding the needs of others to find common ground with others.
As Goleman explains: “Social competence takes many forms – it’s more than just being chatty. These abilities range from being able to tune into another person’s feelings and understand how they think about things, to being a great collaborator and team player, to expertise at negotiation. All these skills are learned in life. We can improve on any of them we care about, but it takes time, effort, and perseverance.”
You may be wondering now if you are emotionally intelligent. Do you know your strengths and limits? Do you know your motivations and fears? Are you able to accept criticism without being offended? Do you handle toxic people with ease or you are affected by their reactions? Do you hold a grudge? Do you manage to stop the negative self talk? Do you apologize when you are wrong? Are you curious about people? Are you a good listener? Many other signs are available to understand and assess your level of EQ. The fastest way to develop your EQ is to become human, and to embrace human basic values.
Emotional Intelligence will make you feel secure and in peace with yourself, and enable you to dissociate between facts and people’s emotions. It will set you apart from the crowd and make you wise enough to understand that not all what is happening around you has to do with you.