What even is emotional intelligence? It sounds like the kind of thing my dad would have walked over the other side of the pub to avoid a discussion on, along with politics and religion. It’s not the kind of thing a blokey bloke or your ordinary get-on-with-the-job working woman really give a lot of time to. As a topic which Mike often covers in training, I asked him some questions about emotional intelligence to share with you.
What is emotional intelligence?
Humans are social beings. Our interactions with people are very important to us. The measure of someone's intelligence, commonly referred to as IQ, is commonly known. IQ is your ability to cognitively process situations you find yourself in, particularly involving people. However people don’t think and act purely from a mental processing perspective. We add other factors such as feelings, filters, upbringing, culture, and beliefs, to name a few.
When you can see and understand yourself in light of these factors, you develop an awareness of self. Self awareness allows us to understand our feelings in the context of our whole-of-life experience, rather than just the present moment. Understanding feelings means we can begin to regulate them. This enables us to proactively motivate ourselves and to see other people with empathy, developing social skills.
This collection of self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills is what we call emotional intelligence. When you see the “whole person” as a collection of the above inside the current situation where you are meeting them, it allows you to understanding that the emotions they are expressing are not necessarily directed at you, and that you are not responsible for their actions and reactions.
Why is Emotional Intelligence important?
People like people who like them, who are like them and who like what they like. Our ability to connect with people and to SEE them as a person (rather than just a role, position, personality type or whatever other filter our emotional experience has created), it determines our ability to get along with people. People who have a high emotional intelligence are able to connect faster, build stronger relationships and optimise the output of people and teams that have to work together.
How does Emotional Intelligence affect people and teams in the workplace?
When teams have a low emotional intelligence, people tend to take comments personally, they have a higher conflict between different personality types, there is a tendency to ‘walk on eggshells’, there are culture clashes and much time, effort and energy is wasted in merely managing the people aspect of the business.
Teams with high emotional intelligence accept people more easily. People understand that they are not responsible for other people’s actions and reactions. There is generally greater harmony and understanding between team members allowing for increased cooperation and output.
How do you get better at Emotional Intelligence?
Self observation and self awareness leads to self improvement. Feelings are just messages to your brain. Feelings are not facts. When you pause to think about why you might be feeling something, it allows you to manage these feelings. When you can manage your feelings, you are then able to use the emotional energy in more productive ways.
When people are wanting public speaking training to stop the butterflies, Mike often shares this story. Imagine you are 7 years old in class and your teachers asks a question.You stick up your hand enthusiastically and she picks you to answer. You answer the question and your answer is so wrong, the class melts in laughter. Even the teacher can't hide a smile which makes the class laugh even more - so much so a kid falls off his chair in laughter - creating more laughter. You wish the ground would open up and swallow you and you promise yourself you will never, ever speak in public again. 10 years go by and you get through school. Another 10 years and you get married and settle down. Another 10 years go by and at a family gathering you are asked to say a few words… you freeze in terror as the 7 year old in your brain screams at you “NOOOOOOO.
They will laugh at you.” Pausing and realising where the feeling is coming from, allows you to speak truth to yourself. “I am not 7. This is not junior school. They are not going to laugh at you.” It often takes time and repetition of the truth to bring emotional response into alignment with your current awareness, but as will all things, persistence pays off. Knowing this allows you to develop the emotional energy to get the butterflies to fly in formation.
If you have any questions, please get in touch!