Emotional Intelligence refers to the capacity to recognise and manage our own feelings and to recognise and respond effectively to those of others.
The rules for work are changing. We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other. This is increasingly applied in choosing who will be hired and not, who will be let go or retained. In a time with no guarantee of job security, when the very concept of a job is being replaced by “portable skills,” these are prime qualities that make and keep us employable.
Emotional Intelligence (EI), often referred to as Emotional Quotient (EQ), is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. It involves a set of skills that help individuals recognize and understand their own emotions and the emotions of others, and to use this awareness to guide their thinking and behaviour.
This includes being aware of different emotions, accurately identifying and interpreting them, and regulating them both internally and in relation to others. EI is crucial for personal well-being, forming healthy relationships, achieving personal and professional success, and for navigating the social complexities of daily life.
Talked about loosely for decades under a variety of names, from “character” and “personality” to “soft skills” and “competence,” there is at last a more precise understanding of these human talents: emotional intelligence.
- Emotional intelligence does not mean merely “being nice,” but rather, for example, bluntly confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they have been avoiding.
- Emotional intelligence does not mean giving free rein to feelings. Rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goal.
- Levels of emotional intelligence are not fixed genetically, nor does it develop in early childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop through life and learn from our experiences.
The five realms of EI are broken down into four quadrants, as explored further in the diagram below. Two of these relate to you and two relate to you and others (relationships).
Science-Based Ways To Help Boost Your Emotional Intelligence At Work
Fast Company: The New Way We Work Podcast
Emotional Intelligence remains a buzzword that confuses many people.
On this episode from our LinkedIn audio series, Farah Harris, author of The Color of Emotional Intelligence, discusses how emotional awareness and management play into our office lives.
It’s a skill often treated as optional, but mastering emotional intelligence – the ability to manage your emotions and understanding the emotions of those around you – is essential for weathering transitions, maintaining healthy relationships, and communicating clearly.
Emotional self-awareness • Accurate self-assessment • Self-confidence
According to John Mayer (University of New Hampshire psychologist and one of the first to study emotional intelligence) self-awareness is being “aware of both our mood and our thoughts about mood.” It is also explained by Goleman (2002) as the ability to read and understand your emotions as well as recognize their impact on others. It can simply be put that self-awareness is a basic understanding of how we feel and why we feel that way. The more we are aware of our feelings the easier they are to manage and dictate how we might respond to others.
Emotional self-control • Transparency • Adaptability • Achievement • Initiative • Optimism
Self-Management, or self-regulation, can be defined as the ability to manage one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings in flexible ways to get the desired results. Optimal self-regulation contributes to a sense of well-being, a sense of self-efficacy or confidence, and a sense of connectedness to others. The goal is for a self-regulating individual to be able to take his or her emotional responses as cues for both action and coping effectively in relationships. It is important to understand self-awareness first for this to be possible.
Empathy • Organisational awareness • Service
Social Awareness is the ability to accurately notice the emotions of others and “read” situations appropriately. It is about sensing what other people are thinking and feeling to be able to take their perspective using your capacity for empathy. Goleman explains, our ability actually comes from neurons in an extended circuitry connected to the amygdala. They read another person’s face, voice, etc. for emotion and help direct us how we should speak to them. “Empathy refers to the cognitive and emotional processes that bind people together in various kinds of relationships that permit sharing experiences as well as understanding of others”.
Inspirational leadership • Influence • Developing others • Change catalyst • Conflict management • Building bonds • Teamwork and collaboration
The ability to take one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and the context to manage social interactions successfully. This quadrant pulls together the other 3 dimensions and creates the final product – relationship management. Often if we have the other three dimensions figured out, this will flow more naturally. This can be known as “friendliness with a purpose” or getting desired responses when working with others. This can vary depending on the situation and this is why this dimension has 7 competencies that fall under it that all have to do with relationships. Relationship management can be used to influence those around us to make a good decision. We can sense other’s reactions to the situation and fine-tune our response to move the interaction in a positive direction. It is critical that this is a genuine attempt to help everyone reach the best possible outcome and not to ever become an act of manipulation for self-interest.
Assessing strengths and weaknesses in Emotional Intelligence is crucial for numerous aspects of personal and professional development.
Assessing Emotional Intelligence (EI) offers numerous benefits, both personally and professionally:
- Enhanced Self-Awareness: Assessing EI helps individuals gain a deeper understanding of their own emotional responses and triggers. This self-awareness is foundational for personal development and emotional regulation.
- Improved Communication Skills: Understanding one’s emotional landscape aids in communicating feelings more effectively. It also helps in interpreting and responding to the emotions of others, leading to clearer and more empathetic interactions.
- Better Relationship Management: EI assessment can reveal how well someone understands and navigates social dynamics. This insight is crucial for building and maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships.
- Effective Leadership Qualities: In a professional setting, high EI is linked to better leadership abilities. Leaders who can understand and manage their emotions, as well as empathise with their team members, tend to be more effective and inspirational.
- Enhanced Conflict Resolution: A good grasp of EI skills aids in handling conflicts constructively. Recognising and understanding emotional perspectives can lead to more productive resolutions.
- Stress Management: By assessing EI, individuals can identify how they handle stress and learn strategies to manage it better. This is crucial for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
- Increased Empathy: Assessing EI can help in developing empathy, an essential skill for understanding and connecting with others, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment.
- Decision-Making Skills: EI assessment helps in understanding the role emotions play in decision-making processes. This can lead to more balanced and rational choices, especially under pressure.
- Career Development: In the workplace, high EI is often correlated with better performance and success. Understanding and developing EI can therefore be a significant factor in career advancement.
- Overall Well-being: Since EI is linked to how we manage our emotions, its assessment and development contribute to overall psychological well-being and life satisfaction.
To assess your areas of existing EI strength and development, take the time to complete the CoachStation Emotional Intelligence Self-Assessment accessible to the right.