What is emotional intelligence?

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– Two people interview for an internal position. Someone on the interview committee says they seem about the same on paper, but, I vote for Zara, she’s great to work with. Another interviewer says she knows people all over the company and those relationships can help us. Another said yeah, during the interview, Zara nailed the question when we asked about weaknesses. She knows where she’s going to struggle and I appreciate that honesty. Zara got the job because of her emotional intelligence. She has a high EQ, or emotional quotient. The Institute for Health and Human Potential defines emotional intelligence as being aware that emotions can drive behavior and impact people, positively or negatively. And it’s learning how to manage those emotions, both our own and others, especially when we are under pressure. I like the way author Travis Bradberry puts it. Emotional intelligence is the other kind of smart. We all know that person, or maybe we are that person, who’s talented, smart, but just doesn’t seem to get people. Or maybe it’s someone that’s moody, has a bad temper. These folks maybe have intelligence and technical skills, which are important, but those are threshold capabilities. Skills that get us in the door or into entry level spots. EQ, your emotional quotient, now that’s your differentiator. Emotional intelligence is composed of four categories. Self-awareness. A colleague recently turned down a promotion because he values being in the classroom. The promotion would have meant less student contact. He said, I know what I’m good at, and administration is not it. The only motivator for me to take that job was ego, and that’s a terrible reason. This is self-awareness. Know your talents, know your weaknesses and be honest about your motivation. The second category is self-regulation. Our ability to manage our lives and our emotions. Third, empathy. Empathy is understanding another’s perspective and feelings. With empathy, we recognize how decisions get made and who the influencers are. One of my coaching clients received a bad client review for his entire department. I asked what are the top three things you can do to get a better review? He told me his three ideas, and then I asked what would be the top three things if I asked your client? He sat very quietly for a moment and then he said, oh, they’re not the same things at all. Knowing that his own perspective was different than the client, empathizing was the first step in rebuilding trust with that customer. And finally, relationship management. Relationship management involves meeting diverse people, creating and nurturing connections and being available to help one another. You can build your emotional quotient by making an effort to meet people from all over your organization, your industry, and beyond. Don’t just exchange business cards and forget these acquaintances. Nurture the ties to the point that you influence and support one another. Memorize these four components of emotional intelligence, and then start some detective work. Look for great examples of emotional intelligence around you. Notice the people who demonstrate self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and relationship management. They can become your mentors as you increase your own emotional quotient.

Brenda Bailey-Hughes

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