Are you intelligent…emotionally… and does it matter in the workplace?? What is emotional intelligence and what steps can you take to get where you need to be.
Few personal qualities have received more attention in the past decade than emotional intelligence (EQ or EI). We all know someone who is exceptionally bright and yet cannot seem to get their life together. The brilliant student who flunks out of university, or the very smart worker who can’t seem to get ahead in their company. We know that these individuals have good to superior intelligence but that doesn’t seem to be enough to ensure success.
Over time, scientists have begun to study why standard intelligence alone isn’t enough to predict performance in an individual. There is another type of intelligence that isn’t related to the standard cognitive intelligence – it’s called emotional intelligent. Emotional intelligence is a relatively new subject of study but it does have its roots way back to the time of Darwin, who posited that emotional expression was essential for survival.
Can we define emotional intelligence? Well, Yes. Sort of. There are numerous ways of defining emotional intelligence but to keep it simple: the ability to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of others and then to use that knowledge to help manage the expression of emotions so that they foster success instead of causing roadblocks.
People who have high levels of emotional intelligence, are able to understand the physical, mental, and social impact that negative emotions have on their bodies, minds, relationships, and ability to pursue and achieve goals. They then are able to moderate their own emotions so that their emotions support their activities and enhance their quality of life.
Companies who once focused only on where their new hires went to college have learned that IQ alone isn’t going to make them successful. When an individual has not developed their EI, they tend to get stopped by setbacks. They either can’t get passed these kinds of situations, or they struggle past it after a long period of time. They may react negatively to the other people involved, which results in increased animosity and difficulty in being productive. They may take things personally that are not meant to be. They may feel like a victim rather than feeling empowered. All in all, these types of situations prevent them from being as successful as possible in the workplace
Someone who has a highly developed EI still face these types of situations, just like everyone else. Yet the way they react is different. They are able to stop and analyze what they are feeling, and to understand how those are impacting their behavior and their choices. They are able to recognize how other people are feeling and to empathize with them. They can choose the behavior and actions that will help them to not just move past a situation, but to resolve it – both within themselves and in relationship to others. As they practice, they will get faster and faster at recovering from stumbling blocks. At their most emotionally intelligent, they can see setbacks as learning experiences and chances to improve their relationship with others. Then these roadblocks no longer stop the, but rather help them develop their potential.
In a study by Martin Seligman at Met Life, it was discovered that those with high emotional intelligence also had high levels of optimism. In this sense, Seligman is referring to the ability to handle setbacks. He discovered that optimists are able to look at a roadblock as something external to them and temporary, while pessimists view them as being caused by some internal flaw and having permanence. Does this matter? Absolutely! The researchers found that those sales people who showed high levels of optimism sold 37 percent more insurance than the pessimists in the first two years on the job. Furthermore, the company hired a group of new sales people who failed the normal job screening tests, but tested high on optimism scale. They sold 21 percent more insurance in their first year on the job and 57 percent more during their second year on the job. Clearly emotional intelligence in the form of optimism was more important in predicating perform ace than the traditional “intelligence” tests the company had been using.
Study after study proves that the best, most successful leaders have higher developed EI than others. Not only that, but they are more likely to stick around than those who haven’t had EI Training- representing cost savings as well. When a leader does fail, it can usually, be attributed to lack of emotional competence.
This is all good news for people with higher EQ. However, what can those with lower scores do improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills? Some would argue that EQ is just a combination of personality traits, shaped by childhood experiences, and fairly stable over time. However, there are some things we can do to improve if some are not naturally inclined to be emotionally intelligent. Here are five critical steps for developing EQ:
- Turn self-deception in to self-awareness: Personality, and thereby EQ, is composed of two parts: identify and reputation. For most people there is a disparity between identity and reputation that can cause them to ignore feedback. Real self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths weaknesses compare to others’. Turning self-deception into self-awareness will not happen without accurate feedback. The kind that comes from data-based assessments such as a valid personality tests or 360 feedback surveys. Such tools are fundamental to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots.
- Turn self-focus into other-focus: Paying due attention to others is tantamount to career success. Those with lower EQ, find it difficult to see things from others’ perspectives, especially if there is no clear right or wrong way to move forward Developing an other-centric approach starts with a basic appreciation and acknowledgement of team members’ individual strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. Frequent discussions with team members will lead to more thorough understanding of how to motivate and influence others. These conversations should inspire way to create opportunities for collaboration, teamwork, and external networking.
- Be more rewarding to deal with: People who are more employable and successful in their career ten to be seen as more rewarding to deal with. Rewarding people tend to be cooperative, friendly, trusting, and unselfish. Unrewarding individuals tend to be more guarded and critical. They are willing to speak their mind and disagree openly. This can develop a reputation for being argumentative or pessimistic and confrontational.
- Control your temper tantrums: If you are one of the many people who suffer from too much emotional transparency, reflect on which situations tend to trigger feelings of anger or frustration and monitor your tendency to overeat in the face of setbacks. You should always wait to respond if you are angry or frustrated with a situation. You can avoid stressful situations and inhibit your volatile reactions by detecting your triggers. Start working on tactics that help you become more aware of your emotions in real time, not only in terms of how you experience them, but, more importantly, in terms of how they are being experienced by others.
- Display humility even if it’s fake: Sometimes it can feel like you’re working on an island managed by six year olds. If you the type of person who thinks, “I am surrounded by idiots,” then it’s likely your self-assured behaviors are being seen as arrogant, forceful, and incapable of admitting mistakes. Climbing the organizational ladder requires an extraordinary degree of self-belief. However, the most effective leaders are the eons who doesn’t seem to believe their own hype, for they come across as humble. Striking a healthy balance between assertiveness and modesty, demonstrating receptiveness to feedback and the ability to admit one’s own mistakes is one of the most difficult tasks to master. When things go wrong, team members seek confident leadership, but they also hope to be supported and taught with humility as they work to improve their situation.