Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

As entrepreneurs, we tend to rush around trying to accomplish everything on our never-ending “to do” list, only to wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again. Is this living?

Emotional Intelligence - “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. - Maya Angelou

This quote is so pertinent to our lives, especially in the Western world. The joy of interacting with others fills you with knowledge, kindness, understanding, laughter and many other emotions.  Interacting with others in a mindful and meaningful way shows deep and well-mastered skills of Emotional Intelligence.  Maya Angelou hits the nail right on the head with her words that tie in so aptly with the theme of Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is something that I learnt through working for most of my life in other cultures. Placing myself out of my comfort zone, away from everything that was familiar to me to start again in an environment that was different from my own, almost forces the development of Emotional Intelligence. That, I believe, was the foundation of my success in each case. It is so easy to use phrases such as “In England, we do it this way,” or “That won’t work because…. ” and so on. In a new environment, you are the minority. If you are aware and sensitive, it forces you, in the nicest possible way, to expand your thinking, look for the positives and identify ways to achieve the goal that is acceptable to your colleagues, despite being different to what they are accustomed to and possibly also different to what you are accustomed to.  

In any business, whether banking, hotel, retail or construction, Emotional Intelligence is essential to communicating and dealing with clients and customers as well as for working in and leading teams. Without it, because they can, customers will go somewhere else sooner or later. Employees will either do the same or their morale, willingness and performance will drastically decrease, leaving management bewildered and trying to work out what is wrong through surveys and interviews.  With a good level of Emotional Intelligence, you are aware of your own behaviour, can regulate it through your social skills, generate self-motivation to influence, and inspire others positively to want to work with you simply because they respect and trust you.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence was initially labelled by Daniel Goleman back in the mid-1990s, which he adapted from the Salovey and Mayer definition. In Goleman’s words, it refers to “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others. For motivating ourselves in our relationships. It describes the abilities distinct from but complementary to, academic intelligence, the purely cognitive capacities measured by IQ”. Often referred to as EQ, as opposed to IQ, his adaptation includes five basic emotional competencies. They each have their own definition, making it easy to measure that are divided into “Personal Competence” and “Social Competence”.

Personal Competence includes:

• Self-Awareness
• Self-Regulation
• Motivation

And Social Competence includes:

• Empathy
• Social Skills

Emotional Intelligence is the foundation to getting on in this world. It is that simple!  Every day, we all interact with people, and as leaders inspire many of them.  Lacking Emotional Intelligence may possibly mean that the person lacks the self-confidence to pass the time of day, to express their ideas and thoughts around solving a problem or to stand in their own power. It might also present itself as getting upset and taking things personally, simply because your suggestion or solution was not accepted.  We normally have hundreds of interactions every day - face to face, on the phone and through email. A lack of Emotional Intelligence will affect how others react to you as well as how you react to others, often making or breaking relations.

To have a deeper understanding of EQ, it is worth understanding the competencies of self-awareness and self-regulation. Self-awareness is when using these skills in the business world, you can “feel” what is happening in the now when communicating with others. You consequently use gleaned information to guide decision making with a realistic understanding of your own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.  

Self-regulation means that you are able to handle your emotions in a way that allows facilitation and openness in seeking solutions, discussing personal issues and feelings of both your own and others. It means you do not interfere or perhaps even block any forward direction, be it solutions, changes in processes or personal relations. Self-regulation is also the ability to recover quickly and to bounce back from emotional distress that might have been caused by your own actions or actions of others in a particular situation.

Self-regulation and self-awareness are particularly relevant in managing mental ill-health, as it firstly helps us to be aware of our emotions and then to recover quickly and well from emotional setbacks. Self-motivation helps to go inward and remind ourselves when in the overhang of an emotional situation what our deepest needs and preferences are, and consequently in the face of a major glitch, to persevere to achieve our goal. It helps us to regulate our response both to others and to ourselves putting everything into context to avoid becoming overwhelmed, internalising feelings that then de-stabilise our mental and emotional health.  Being self-aware and able to self-regulate results in greater resilience to manage setbacks and life’s curve-balls.

Five Actions to Build Emotional Intelligence

1. Listen attentively and empathetically through tone of voice, gestures and words when you see that someone is emotional or having a different opinion to your own.  This helps to respond by mirroring to show you recognise how they are feeling and only then addressing the actual reason for the conversation.

2. Change your response pattern by identifying your triggers. Increasing self-awareness of how you feel and respond to a particular statement, comment, person or attitude goes a long way to identifying triggers, giving the opportunity to put steps in place to change your response pattern and increase your EQ.

3. Show empathy by putting yourself in another person’s shoes. This helps them see that you care, you truly understand and are not passing any judgement.  When responding verbally, use expressions that transmit your empathy for them and how they are feeling, without getting sucked into the situation.  Convey the message through phrases such as, “I would be so upset right now if that was me in your situation.” “I really feel for you right now.”

4. Focus the conversation on the other person. Increase your social skills and train yourself to first connect on a human level by taking a “reading” of how the other person you are interacting with is feeling in the moment by using so-called “small talk”. Show respect and be mindful to truly listen to their answer, observing gestures, tone of voice and words. Only after this, carry on with the main reason for calling/reaching out to the person. In doing this you build rapport, respect and trust with others.

5. Look for the positives in everything - whether person, idea, situation, or experience, before criticizing and focusing on the negatives. Positivity generates positivity, in other words like attracts like.  If you want others to treat you with respect, then be positive in how you communicate. This does not mean ignoring behaviour that is unacceptable, it simply means being balanced in your feedback, comments, and overall manner of communication.

Living an emotionally intelligent life is the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself.  There will be times when you get it wrong, but having the self-awareness and ability to evaluate, as well as social skills to receive feedback will help self-regulate your approach for next time.  

Written by Rachel Shackleton - Green Key Personal Development