Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

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

These behaviours are often described as ‘personality’ and that our personalities 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 the subsequent Harvard Business Review article (1998) about the role of EI in leadership that brought this field of study into 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 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 absolutely key to our work performance and overall effectiveness in life. 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.  When our emotions take over, 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 are and to 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 an emotional intelligence psychological assessment and work with a trained practitioner to understand it and create a development plan for you.

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