Is emotional intelligence important?

Improving your emotional intelligence for maximal self-actualization

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A person with an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of 190 may have relational difficulties with leading a project team. Equally surprising are multi-billionaires, brilliant university dons, and heads of conglomerates that lack the perceptive acuity for relating with people. Such lack often places a limit on the actualization of their potential. 

Unlike human IQ, which is a genetic attribute, you can improve your emotional intelligence. Many individuals are facing challenges relating well with people, especially while in positions of leadership. This article will be walking you through the many benefits of upping the ante of your emotional intelligence skills. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

“People just don’t understand it [emotional intelligence]. They often mistake it for a form of charisma or gregariousness. Second, they don’t see it as something that can be improved. Either you have it or you don’t…By understanding what emotional intelligence really is and how we can manage it in our lives, we can begin to leverage all of that intelligence, education, and experience we’ve been storing up for all these years.” – Excerpt from Emotional Intelligence 2.0

A recent study by a group of researchers defines emotional intelligence as “the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).” 

Just like IQ, emotional intelligence has a parameter of measure – Emotional Quotient (EQ). 

According to Bradberry and Greaves’ book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, IQ, personality, and EQ are distinct qualities we all possess. Together, they determine how we think and act. It is impossible to predict one based upon another. People may be intelligent but not emotionally intelligent, and people of all types of personalities can be high in EQ or IQ. Of the three, EQ is the only quality that is flexible and able to change.

Understanding the four skills of emotionally intelligent people

The EQ of people comprises four cardinal parameters, and as was mentioned earlier – they are learnable. These skills are:

Self-awareness

In the book, Self-Awareness (Harvard Business Review Series), Self-awareness is dubbed: “the first component of emotional intelligence.” Several people, millions in real figures, take the online EQ test every year. However, analysis of feedback data indicates that only 36 percent can identify their emotions.

Having a good grasp of our self-awareness involves harnessing our emotions (positive or native) before running wild. 

Self-management 

This skill is our ability to choose action or inaction in response to the prevailing circumstance around us. According to Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “Real results come from putting your momentary needs [and emotions] on hold to pursue larger, more important goals.” Self-management entails actively choosing what to do or say and act when your impulses drive you in a contrary direction. 

Social awareness

With no intention of generalizing, introverts tend to possess a higher potential for social awareness. However, that does not mean introverts are natural possessors of emotional intelligence.

Social awareness involves picking up situational cues from our environment. It requires observation and absorption of the emotional status of those around us and how this affects our ecosystem. The social awareness of leaders entails seeing the productivity of individual team members as a product of their emotional stability.

Relationship management

This fourth skill sits on a base comprising the first three EQ skills. To foster productive relationships wherever we find ourselves, we must balance situational emotions. Your actions and inactions should be guided first by the feelings of those around you. The automated response of the nervous system may want to react to external emotions in a certain way. But the skill of relationship management helps us to respond in the best way – that favors the overall good.

Why is Emotional Intelligence important? 

Emotional intelligence is a libra that can tilt in either of two directions. However, when you harness it following some basic rules, positive results emanate. 

Individuals with a higher EQ often possess more excellent mental health, job performance, and leadership skills. However, no sure relationship has been identified as relating EQ to the earlier mentioned benefits. There is a higher tendency to attribute the benefits to general intelligence and specific personality traits rather than emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman is the co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University. He indicates that emotional intelligence accounted for 67% of the abilities deemed necessary for superior performance in leaders. Also, Goleman emphasized EQ being twice as important as technical expertise or IQ.

How to develop Your EQ

“But when things go awry, business and sports superstars dust themselves off and move on.” – HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness

Are you not having a hold on internal and externally prevalent emotions? The inability to rein in harmful emotions within and around you may cause a considerable setback to projected goals. 

Improving your emotional intelligence will require developing each of the four EQ skills, following the previous section’s order. Greaves and Bradberry’s 17 Relationship Management Strategies are a useful guide for developing and synergizing the four EQ skills. Below is an extraction of the Relationship Management Strategies highlights from Emotional Intelligence 2.0:

  1. Be Open and Be Curious
  2. Enhance Your Natural Communication Style
  3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals
  4. Remember the Little Things that Pack a Punch
  5. Take Feedback Well
  6. Build Trust
  7. Have an “Open-Door” Policy
  8. Only Get Mad on Purpose
  9. Don’t Avoid the Inevitable
  10. Acknowledge the Other Person’s Feelings
  11. Compliment the Person’s Emotions or Situation
  12. When You Care, Show It
  13. Explain Your Decisions, Don’t Just Make Them
  14. Make Your Feedback Direct and Constructive
  15. Align Your Intention with Your Impact
  16. Offer a “Fix-it” Statement during a Broken Conversation
  17. Tackle a Tough Conversation

The prime goal of learning emotional intelligence is to build healthy relationships in every facet of life. Consequently, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 made an in-depth exposition on how practicing each of the 17 strategies improves your EQ.

Leaders and team players may find it difficult to adjust to the emotional realities of their environment or inner person. Such difficulties are a cue to see resilience and mindfulness as needful. Mindfulness makes us intentional in self-reflection, thus, making it easy to isolate our emotional strengths and weaknesses. 

It would be best if you ramped up your emotional strength through self-motivation and empathy. Goleman and Co., in Resilience (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series), proffer easy steps to learning and improving setbacks, personal trauma, and professional crises. 

Close – You can get better!

“Emotions can help you, and they can hurt you, but you have no say in the matter until you understand them. We invite you to begin your journey now because we know that emotional mastery and understanding can become realities for you.” – Daniel Goleman, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, and Shawn Achor.

Swimming against the tides of emotion’s natural impulse can be a daunting task. However, the little steps suggested in the following books from the Headway library will help keep volatile passions in check.

  • Self-Awareness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) Multiple Contributors
  • Resilience (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) Daniel Goleman, Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, and Shawn Achor
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
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