So, What Exactly Is Emotional Intelligence_ - Blog Top Image

So, What Exactly Is Emotional Intelligence?

Let’s talk a little about the warm and fuzzy side of maintaining healthy relationships: Emotional Intelligence. Ok, maybe not as warm and fuzzy as you thought it was going to be, but your EI (or EQ) is super important in the workplace and at home. So, what exactly is Emotional Intelligence?

It's really four things: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.




No news here: know thyself. Recognize your emotional triggers, strengths, things you're less good at, what you like, what you're not so keen on, that sort of thing. Take a second and write down 4 things you're awesome at and 2 things you struggle with. Look at your 4 things and pat yourself on the back, because you rock. Now take a second and check out the other 2. How can you improve on those? Write it down. Put it somewhere so you'll come back to it frequently and take deliberate action to get better. Which brings us to...



So you're self-aware. Good job, but now comes the hard(er) part. See, it's not enough just to know something about yourself--it's how you incorporate that knowledge into your daily actions. For example, let's say you're trying to eat better, but you have no willpower when it comes to chocolate. It's Valentine's Day, and a few of your colleagues brought an assortment of chocolates for the office to share in the breakroom. You know you want to eat better, and you know your weakness for chocolate (self-awareness), so you endeavor to avoid the breakroom (self management). Granted, one bonbon won't kill you, and chocolate really isn't that terrible for you. Unless you had some for breakfast. Then maybe rethink that coffee break.




We're not saying self-management is a picnic. It's tough, and sometimes it's not fun (see above), but it's guaranteed to make you a better part of your team if you keep working at it.




Social Awareness


You could also look at this as other-awareness, but either way it's some more basic stuff--There are 7 billion other people in the world. Get to know them--tap into your keen skills of observation; note body language and other non-verbal cues, like facial expression and tone. Tune into how they're feeling, know their ticks. Change your perspective and try to see how things look from their seat at the table--you might be surprised at the view.



2365How deliberate are you when interacting with others? Do you take what you know about their likes and dislikes into account? You might need to do some more research there if you come up blank for the folks you frequently interact with. Just like with self-awareness and self-management, it's not enough to know about the people in your work and social circles; how does what you know about others affect your interactions with them? Put your knowledge to good use--otherwise it doesn't really do anyone any good.


That sounds fine and dandy Sinikka, but is it really that easy? Well, no. Emotional intelligence has extreme benefits, but with any benefit comes its challenges.


Feelings Aren't Allowed at Work*

How do you acknowledge, understand, and anticipate something that doesn't exist? 

*The fact of the matter is that wherever there are people, there are emotions. Personality clashes, differences of opinion, stress, and issues at home all impact our performance and interactions with others. So basically unless you're a robotics engineer, you should be engaging your emotional intelligence just about every second of every day. (And even if you ARE a robotics engineer, you probably have to interact with carbon-based lifeforms on occasion. Just a hunch.)



You Never Get the Full Story

OHT4YX0It's easy--tempting, even--to assume that we have the full story behind a situation or particular person. And we're usually wrong. With a little insight, empathy, and, yes, emotional intelligence, we can try to put ourselves in another person's shoes, but we'll never fully understand every nuance of a situation or a person's complete human experience--just like no one can fully understand your personal experience. So don't you think it's about time we stop expecting other people to know exactly what we're feeling or thinking at any given moment, and for us to stop assuming we know what everyone else is feeling or thinking?  

People Are Hard to Predict

The most common mistake we encounter when we try to anticipate or understand the actions (or reactions) of others is when we expect another person to respond like we would in a given situation--and we're almost always wrong.


Understanding People

Emotional Intelligence can help you maintain healthy relationships with your co-workers and loved ones. Knowing who you are and how you are working to be better helps you to understand how others work and make your relationships with those people even better, and overcome some of these challenges. How will you use these tips to increase your emotional intelligence today?



Topics: YP, Sinikka Waugh, Business Skills & Business Acumen, Change & Transition, Communication & Collaboration, Project Management & Business Analysis, Leadership & Influence

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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