Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

We all know people who have masses of academic qualifications yet somehow just don’t get it right in the world of work. They are not easy people to be with and tend to misread situations. They say the wrong thing, upset people (often completely unintentionally) and therefore don’t always get as many opportunities as people who are emotionally intelligent.

They are clever but socially inept. Increasingly, emotional intelligence is being seen as desirable as academic qualifications in the world of work.

Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence, or EQ as it is often known, is a relatively recent idea which came to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’. Emotional Intelligence is particularly relevant to organizational development and developing people; the EQ principles provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviours, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential.

One of the more attractive traits of EQ is that it helps to bring more compassion and humanity into our workplaces and challenges the received wisdom that your value increases in relation to the amount of qualifications you possess. In Emotional Intelligence theory everyone is valued.

What Is It?

The basic premise of Emotional Intelligence is that in order to be successful we need to be able to manage our own emotions, and be aware and sensitive to those of others.

We need to:

  • Understand ourselves, our goals, intentions, responses, and behaviour.
  • Understand others, their feelings, and what makes them tick.

The Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:

  1. Knowing your emotions
  2. Managing your own emotions
  3. Motivating yourself
  4. Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions
  5. Managing relationships, ie. managing the emotions of others

Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Transactional Analysis, (this link will take you to my last article on T.A) and empathy. (See my blog for a short post on the difference between empathy and sympathy)

By developing our Emotional Intelligence in these areas and the five EQ domains we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. An understanding of and use of Emotional Intelligence also contains many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organizations.

E.Q. can help by decreasing conflict, improving our relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony. This is why personal development training is so popular in enlightened organisations at this time of change. It really helps!

A ‘Feeling’ Exercise

Try this simple exercise. How are you feeling right now? Are you cold? Hot? Warm? Are you Hungry? Full up? A bit peckish? Are you feeling anxious about something? Are you feeling relaxed? Are you blissfully happy? Are you feeling irritated?

Just jot down a couple of sentences about how you feel, beginning with ‘I am….’ You get the idea. Try and differentiate from how you feel physically from how you feel emotionally.

You’ll probably come up with quite a few and you may even surprise yourself; for example, if you realise that you are carrying around a bit of anger from this morning’s frustrating encounter trying to get a space in the car park. If you aren’t aware of it, that residual anger may be showing itself in other ways and you may be communicating a negative message unintentionally.

Now look at a colleague and apply the same exercise to them. How do you think they may be feeling? If you can tap into other’s people’s emotions you are better equipped to communicate with them.

If you can spot that someone is very frustrated in a chore you may conclude this is not a good time to ask a favour but a very good time to offer them a helping hand. You can temper your responses to be in harmony, if you choose.

Reading Suggestion

Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, available from Amazon, or your local library.


Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

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