“The communication between your emotional and rational “brains” is the physical source of emotional intelligence. The pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. However, first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are generated. So, we have an emotional reaction to events before our rational mind is able to engage. Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.” Copied. Moral here: use your mind before you act.
In our work and/or personal lives we happen meet people who: Good listeners, Good talkers (know what to say and how to say it) without causing any offense, are caring and considerate, outgoing and cheerful, control their anger and aggressiveness, committed to others, look at themselves honestly, accept criticism, and handle problems and anxiety calmly. All these wonderful traits arise when there is a high EI in place. People like those above know themselves very well, are able to control their own lives and get along easily with others sensing and understanding others’ emotional needs and outcomes. Would you like to become one of them? By learning how to enhance your emotional intelligence, you are one step closer to becoming an emotionally smart person. Here are a few ideas that would help you out.
- First, why not to check your current status? Many books and tests are available to help you determine your current EI, and identify where you may need to do some work.
- Once you identify what is missing, start a daily journal. Writing down your thoughts can improve your self-awareness and facilitate following up the development progress. Writing it down will help you understand what you did, why, how did it make you feel/ act? What did you do well? What could you improve on? Just reflecting on this every day, will enhance your self-awareness, the way you handle your emotions and how to act against others’ emotions.
- Practice to control yourself and do not rush into things acting on the pulse. Do you get provoked very quickly? How do you behave when things go wrong? You must learn how to calm yourself down and remember that you can always choose how you react to it. Try to de-stress and distract yourself from negativity in the way that soothes you the best. Try to change your posture, stand up if you are sitting, get off the car if driving, think of the old ‘count to ten’ technique, or think of something else to delay action. The emotive part of the brain should pause a bit, allowing the rational portion to take charge.
- Practice not to rush into judgment, for example, when you get angry in a situation, try first to find whose fault it was and whether you are blaming others or they really deserved your anger. Know all the facts and then try to put yourself in their place, are you going to do the same as what they did or they are still guilty? If they are not, then be more open and accepting of their perspectives and needs.
- Learn how to read others’ body language. Start by observing how other people react and relate upon hearing good news and bad news. You’ll be able to deduce their respective emotions quite easily and pick up some emotional cues.
- Stop taking things personally especially in the work place. Criticism can be constructive and allows you to improve professionally and personally. Ask whoever giving you feedback, what is his/her suggestions to fix whatever issues he/she thinks you have/make.
- One great way to enhance your emotional intelligence is by reaching out. People won’t always tell you when they’re upset or when they’re frustrated. Listening to other problems and sufferings, understanding what it is that made that person feel a certain way, can help you look back on these incidents and know what to expect should a similar situation occur in future.
- Respect cross-cultural changes when you deal with different cultures. Examine how your ideas or actions affect them. Learn to think about and appreciate what they are saying and the background/reasons behind it.
- Seize the benefit of introducing some humor. Without having this cross the limits being understood as mocking or disrespect, try to add a sense of light humor to the conversation that will ease the situation and help matters not to spark.
These are some of the ways by which you can enhance your emotional intelligence. The more you practice them, the better you will be at handling everybody’s emotions and yourselves as well, until it becomes a habit and a skill. And as they say Repetition is the mother of skill.
“A study of Harvard graduates in the fields of law, medicine, teaching and business observed that scores on entrance exams, a surrogate for IQ, had zero or negative correlation with their eventual career success. Paradoxically, IQ was found to have limited power in predicting the success of people smart enough to handle the most demanding fields, and the value of emotional intelligence was found to be higher for entry into particular fields. In MBA programs, engineering, law, or medicine, where professional selection focused almost exclusively on IQ, EQ carried far more weight than IQ in determining who emerged successful.” copied. Another finding states that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Although IQ is important for academic excellence, it does not necessarily contribute to success in career or even social life.
Emotional Intelligence (EI), also referred to as EQ (emotional quotient), is defined as the ability to perceive, judge, and control one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, to respond to them in positive and healthy ways, realize how they affect you and the people around you, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. Emotional Intelligence is inaccurately claimed to be many things it is not, it is not a personality trait, social skill, emotion or a motive.
Emotional Intelligence is a way of acknowledging self or others feelings, understanding them, and the choosing how to think and act based on that understanding. Emotions like anger, happiness, anxiety, enthusiasm, optimism, over-excitement, sadness, fear, shame and/or love, when understood and controlled can allow us to make decisions that achieve positive results, set priorities according to the current situation, increase the self-confidence, motivate ourselves and others, manage relationships more effectively, and getting along with peoples’ social complexities.
The Stages of EI
- Perceiving Nonverbal Signals: involves understanding nonverbal signals accompanied with emotions, such as facial expressions, body language and voices. How accurately one can perceive self-emotions, and others’ emotions, in the face, body language or voice is considered as the starting point for the understanding of emotions.
- Understanding Emotions: Emotions do carry information. The ability to think of and understand the various causes of emotions, messages the emotions show, prioritize what to pay attention and react to, and what to discard on the other hand, and the chain of actions associated with emotions, is considered as the core of this stage. For example, if you and your partner are driving back home, and he/she is acting angry, the causes might be because he/she is dissatisfied with you, had a bad day at work, or it could be because of bad traffic. A message of anger, for example, may mean that the individual feels treated unfairly. The anger, in turn, might be associated with actions like: attacking, revenge-seeking, or preferring isolation for the peace of mind.
- Managing Emotions: Once the information behind yours and others emotions is gathered and understood, it can be voluntarily controlled to be used for desirable positive actions rather than causing sadness or harm. A person may want to remain open to unpleasant emotional signals so long as they are not too painful, especially when you are trying to better understand a friend or a colleague, but at the same time, he/she should be able to block out the harmful and destructive ones.
EI in the Workplace
Some studies had revealed that 80% of the difference in performance among top executives can be traced to emotional intelligence. EI is found to be a better predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs than either IQ results or having a relevant work experience. The most effective leaders in the US Navy were found to be the ones who have warmer, more outgoing, emotionally expressive, and more sociable. In a group study, having the good positive feelings cultivated among the group led to improved cooperation, fairness, enhanced overall group performance, lower staff turnover (having employees less-likely to leave the company due to inter-employee issues), and increased sales and net profit per employee.
An employee’s ability to perceive, identify, and manage emotion provides the basis for the kinds of social and emotional competencies such as Influence, Initiative or Achievement drive that are important for success in almost any job. An employee with high emotional intelligence is someone who has a calm assuring behavior, in control no matter what the situation, a good listener, compassionate but not overfriendly, works well in a team, adapts easily to change, inspire and influence others, manage conflicts easily, and usually takes the right informed decisions.
Organizations now lay much emphasis on EQ in their selection process when hiring, promotions, career development, succession planning, and managers and leaders induction. EQ enables managers to have skills motivating employees, managing work relationships with subordinates and teammates, building new teams and enhancing their effectiveness. Emotional intelligence also enhances productivity, profitability, team collaboration and psychological well-being in the workplace.
One important note in the end, emotional intelligence does not and should not be thought of as a replacement or substitute for ability, knowledge or job skills. The EI can be a good predictor of high performance but does not guarantee it in the absence of the needed job skills.
Do not act based on Assumptions. Ask a lot and do the research before taking action.
Verbal communication does not count, document anything via documents or e-mails to save them formally.
Always set the right expectations when dealing with a colleague, a manager or a customer, especially when you are expecting delays, new changes, or when saying no to an offer or a task.
Make sure that your effort is showing up to your managers. Working too hard in shadows will not help.
Work effectively. Do the right thing with the adequate effort, instead of paying too much effort but in vain without getting any needed results. Imagine two football teams, one plays too hard and run a lot, and the other scores. The latter knew how to benefit from chances they had, also how to utilize their efforts right.
Delay when Angry. Never respond to an e-mail, or verbally, while you are angry. I remember a motto that says the best cure of anger is delay. Delay your response back for a day and believe me you will be surprised that you have responded in a completely different way than replying instantly while you were agitated.
Your career development is totally your responsibility. Despite the company and your manager may offer support in that regards, still you need to take the lead and ask for all development opportunities you need to take.
You cannot please everyone in the workplace. Seeking the satisfaction of your CEO, all managers and all colleagues/employees is a myth. Always program yourself to do the right thing, following the company management decisions, rules and regulations.
Unlike your group of friends in school or college, do not expect work colleagues to cover you up, or act for your favor. In corporate world everyone will secure himself/herself, saving their jobs and paychecks. Be prepared for that.
Do not participate in grapevine or office gossip. Talking about only one employee can show to others that you can also gossip about them.