In recent years, Emotional intelligence (EG) has come to be known as one of the most critical skills one can possess in the corporate world, as well as life in general. Whether you’re an entry level employee, or a C-Suite executive, having a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) can affect the way you manage yourself and your emotions, your interactions with others within your organization, as well as outside stakeholders (e.g., customers, clients, as well as family and friends). Through my time at Transforming Solutions, Inc. (TSI), I’ve come to find that understanding critical aspects of emotional intelligence, and applying them to my work with both clients and other members of my firm, is critical in transforming my life, achieving goals, and realizing my potential as an employee and team member.
According to Daniel Goleman, American psychologist and renowned author, emotional intelligence can be broken down into the following five categories (pictured in graphic), as summarized by Andrea Ovans’ 2015 Harvard Business Review article, titled “How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill”:
- Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
- Empathy for others
- Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks
The Factors of Emotional Intelligence Broken Down
Self-awareness can be described in many ways. Throughout my undergraduate education at NIU, as well as continued (albeit informal) education since, I’ve come to define self-awareness as a set of practices that allows one to identify subtle aspects of their emotional state (e.g., mood, tone, body language, etc.), in order to take steps to effectively regulate their overall demeanor, and the effect they may be having on others at a particular time. Take time, even a few minutes a day, to evaluate who you’re working with and what your approach will be to manage emotions. With the day to day hustle of working with others, jumping from meeting to meeting, task to task, it can be easy to lose sight of these important factors and the way others can and likely will be affected.
Self-regulation, being the actions taken upon becoming aware of the aforementioned factors of one’s emotional state, is necessary in order to improve not only their performance, but the overall cohesiveness of a team environment in particular. In common terms, this is the ability to think before you speak. Being aware of how you may be affecting others is one thing, but without the ability to consciously act on that awareness, you will not be likely to control emotions in times of high stress or pressure. My advice – pay attention to subtle cues that show how others may be perceiving your actions. Body language, tone, and eye contact can sometimes be overlooked when there’s a lot on your mind, but they serve to hint at improvements you can be making with your communication style.
Motivation, or more importantly, internal or intrinsic motivation, defined by Goleman as “a passion for work that goes beyond money or status” (Ovans, 2015), is inherently important in improving your position within the working world over both the short-term, as well as long-term. Consistently keeping in mind your values and goals for set periods of time (e.g., 90-day goals, 12-month goals, or 3 to 5-year goals) will only serve to improve your position in and outside of the office as time goes on. From a leadership standpoint, it’s not only important to keep in mind your own goals, but also to instill in others at any level of your organization, a level of awareness and drive that helps realize personal and organizational performance metrics. While internal motivation can take many forms, it is undoubtedly one of the most critical factors of emotional intelligence.
Next is empathy, which is a tricky concept for some. Empathy is the ability to identify another person’s emotional state in the moment, and react accordingly. That being said, some use their empathetic abilities in order to manipulate others’ actions (which does not work well in the long-run). The connection between empathy and emotional intelligence can and should be used for benefitting yourself and others simultaneously. For example, with respect to client engagements, people at all levels of organizations in any industry struggle with barriers in terms of authority, resource availability, as well as factors outside of the workplace that can affect their overall mood or willingness to perform certain tasks. Be cognizant of others’ situations, and you’ll find a way to create an environment of understanding and collaboration that serves both parties’ interests. I also correlate empathy with understanding and evaluating Customer Experience, which in a short time with TSI, I’ve come to learn a great deal about.
Finally, a factor of emotional intelligence that’s equally, if not more important than others mentioned previously is social skills. In service-oriented organizations (e.g., a consulting firm like TSI), the ability to hone your social skills and effectively network with others, and step outside of your comfort zone at times, can make or break performance. Not only that, but it’s also important to understand that those you surround yourself with will play a large part in your everyday life. I recently read a great article on LinkedIn by Dennis MacGillivray, called “A Sure-fire Networking Tool for Every Situation”, which describes Dale Carnegie’s “Conversation Stack”, which is something of a framework of questions to keep in the back of your mind, to make you more effective in social or networking situations. I’d highly recommend anyone who has recently graduated, or new to networking outside of your close-knit circle to give this a peruse, and take actions to expand your reach. Any opportunity to meet someone new can open a door for you that wasn’t previously open – be it new business or simply a new connection.
As, I’ve worked with organizations in a variety of industries, as well as with people at all levels of the organization, I have come to realize that applying these factors of emotional intelligence have greatly impacted my personal performance and growth, as well as my work within teams. I suggest considering the possibility that you may not know all there is to know about emotional intelligence, and spending some time investigating further into the works of Daniel Goleman and others. Consider the following takeaway, and take steps to improve your everyday life with these simple practices.
With all that’s going on in your day to day life, busy work schedule, or personal commitments, emotional intelligence can benefit you greatly in a number of ways. Here’s my five tips to honing your emotional intelligence toolkit:
- Pay attention to how others are reacting to you, real time, in order to adjust course accordingly.
- Consider your message – not only what you’re saying, but how you deliver certain information to those around you.
- Do what you can to understand others’ motivations and goals, as well as your own. Find what gives life to someone’s work, aside from monetary gains, and help them drive results that serve your interests as well.
- Empathize with others in a way that helps to analyze what may be affecting them, and consider your options around helping them work more effectively, or tackle roadblocks. I promise they’ll notice, and thank you for it.
- Network, network, network. Every person you meet, whether they’re a new colleague or a total stranger, has the potential to benefit you in ways you wouldn’t imagine.
If you’ve liked what you read and you’d like to hear more on this topic or similar topics, feel free to comment or reach out to me directly at (847) 705-0960 Ext. 206, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.