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Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Do you know anyone who doesn’t listen, who can be overbearing, regulalrly cuts people off and loses their temper?

These behaviours are often described as ‘personality’, the assumption being that our personality is fixed so therefore these behaviours are fixed. In fact these behaviours are related to emotional intelligence (EQ) and something that we can develop our skill in.

It was Daniel Goleman’s observations in his book “Emotional Intelligence” (1995) and subsequent Harvard Business Review article (1998) about the role of EI in leadership that brought this field of study to the wider business community.  Goleman (1996) defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” The theory is that emotionally intelligent people cope better in life, are more successful in their work and make better leaders.

Research shows that emotional intelligence accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs*. So what does that mean? If you take two people with the same level of skills, knowledge and ability, the person with higher emotional intelligence will probably be more successful in that role.

Emotional intelligence is really important and absolutely key to our performance in work and overall effectiveness in life in general because it is the foundation for a range of critical skills including trust, anger management, stress tolerance, empathy, time management, decision making, change tolerance, assertiveness, social skills, presentation skills, accountability and flexibility*.

So how do we develop EQ?

It all starts with awareness.  Our emotions tend to take us over but instead of reacting, try first to work out where these feelings came from.  Use them as an opportunity to learn more about yourself; to gain insight into what your needs and motivations and understand your emotional triggers.  Ask yourself: Why did that make me angry/sad/happy? What does that tell me about myself?

It can be helpful to keep a journal. Dump your thoughts and feelings onto the page and reflect on it at a later stage to further help you raise your self- awareness.  It can also be helpful to complete a Emotional Intelligence psychological assessment and work with a trained practitioner to understand it and develop your development plan.

Either way, the good news is that we all have the capacity to finetune our EQ and reap the benefits in our interactions with others, and utimately with ourselves.

*Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves and Patrick Lencion


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  1. Joan Jordan says:

    Great blog theme Isolde. I want to learn more about EQ! Will start keeping that journal.

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