In the last emotional intelligence blog, How Do I Know If I'm "Doing" Emotional Intelligence Well?, we reviewed the areas of emotional intelligence for the sake of self-reflection. We were able to pinpoint where our individual strengths lie and what areas need improvement. There is always room for improvement - no matter who or where you are - and just like everything else, it takes practice!
To "do" EI well, requires a degree of self-awareness and self-management, as well as social awareness and relationship management. It's a process of fine tuned, interplaying parts and steps. The first step is self-awareness, but it can be difficult or uncomfortable to spot those areas in ourselves, and sometimes it requires taking a step back. Sometimes it's easier to see things more clearly from farther away, such as walking through real-world scenarios involving someone else.
So, let's take a look at examples and identify any areas of emotional intelligence breakdown.
Reggie is a Senior Manager at a marketing firm and considers himself to be an emotionally intelligent person who is kind, nice to be around, liked and empathetic toward others. Let’s walk through some scenarios to see if his emotional intelligence is on point, or if it needs a little sharpening.
Reggie hosts a quarterly meeting with the marketing team. In this particular meeting, nobody can really come to a definite conclusion for a problem they are trying to solve. Reggie takes control, asserting his own ideas and interrupts his colleagues’ thoughts because they are less experienced than him.
Did you spot the EI Breakdown? This scenario is a sign of low emotional intelligence because Reggie was doing more speaking and interrupting rather than listening. Even if he is more experienced, Reggie could still listen to his colleagues’ opinions without interrupting them. His actions show a lack of mutual respect for the team, which may result in the meeting ending on a negative note.
Reggie calls his team together to talk about the large drop in sales during the last quarter. He knows this is a big deal and is worried. However, instead of assigning blame or making someone a scapegoat, he speaks to everyone respectfully and positively while asking for their opinions on how they might fix it.
How did Reggie do? Not blaming others is key to great emotional intelligence. Talking to individuals respectfully and with encouragement can lead to a department or organization in which people feel confident speaking their minds, and expressing their emotions. Well done, Reggie!
Reggie has refined his department structure over the years, and has roles and responsibilities clearly defined. He prefers to stick to tradition over innovation, which has resulted in several of his team members providing feedback that they are discouraged. The team members feel they are not able to use their creativity to come up with new ideas.
Uh-oh - another EI Breakdown. Allowing others to be creative, especially if it’s part of their job, helps instill confidence in their abilities. Sticking with “how we’ve always done it” may be required in some situations, but as a leader of a team that has been hired to try new things, stifling creative freedom and innovation is a sign of having low emotional intelligence.
We’re never going to master emotional intelligence. Like Reggie, we all have work to do. The good news is that we have opportunities every day to take actionable steps to practice EI. And practice makes progress.
Where have you spotted EI Breakdown within your own experiences? What was the result? What can you do differently next time?