Emotional intelligence is one of those buzzwords everyone wants to have for themselves and their companies but, in reality, it’s not very well understood. Let’s get to the root of its meaning rather than generalizing emotional intelligence (EI) as a hippy-dippy approach to peacekeeping and people-pleasing in our daily lives and the workplace.
A cut and dry definition is:
“The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” (Oxford Languages)
Simply put, having a high emotional intelligence means that you’re able to evaluate scenarios and conversations and direct plans of action based on both logical and emotional standpoints. If you’re confused about how assessing and being in tune with your feelings could benefit both personal and professional success, that’s ok. Let’s dive a bit deeper to connect the pieces.
The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the all-around usefulness of strengthening one’s emotional intelligence. But to improve, we should first know where we stand.
Measuring your emotional intelligence can be done by answering a series of questions regarding how well you pay attention to others’ feelings, facial expressions, and body language. Recognizing, expressing, and managing your own emotions are also key in the evaluation process.
Though emotional intelligence can be guessed at and maybe even assumed, plenty of resources are available to narrow it down. If you have the time, here are a few short and free EI quizzes that you can check out:
Keep in mind: Being honest about where you fall in perceiving and managing emotions, using them for reasoning, and understanding them is important if you take growth in this area seriously.
Just like any other interpersonal or soft skill set, emotional intelligence can be learned and developed. The particularly valuable skills and qualities that make up a strong foundation for EI are:
Even the smallest actions can help build upon these attributes and raise your emotional intelligence level. For instance, keeping a journal to record and reflect on how you handle accomplishments and roadblocks each day encourages growth in each of the EI areas above. Another example of a simple tweak that checks all three boxes is giving yourself a brief four-five second pause to process varying points of view before approaching decision-making and problem-solving.
An essential takeaway from all this, is that emotions are powerful. And when utilized wisely, they can be incredibly advantageous in any given setting, whether personal or professional.
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