Why Emotional Intelligence is Important -      Especially Now


Emotional Intelligence has become a prominent topic due to its impact on our success – both personally and professionally. Emotional Intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

Howard Gardner, an influential Harvard theorist, defines one’s emotional intelligence level as their ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them. An emotionally intelligent individual is highly conscious of his or her emotional states and able to identify and manage them. Additionally, emotionally intelligent people have an in-depth understanding of emotional signals – from themselves as well as their social environment.

Lucky for us, emotional intelligence skills can be learned as well as practiced. Researchers have pinpointed five categories of skills: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize an emotion as it happens – a key aspect of emotional intelligence. When you can recognize and evaluate your own emotions, you can manage them. Two major elements of self-awareness are emotional awareness – the ability to recognize your own emotions and their effects – and self-confidence – a sureness of your capabilities and self-worth.

Self-regulation is more difficult because people usually have little control over when they experience emotions. On the flipside, you do have control over how long an emotion will last depending on your ability to alleviate negative feelings. Alleviating negative emotions – anger, anxiety, sadness, etc. – will be different for everyone but some techniques include exercise, meditation or even replaying the situation in a more positive light. Self-regulation involves self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation.

Motivation is the third category and it’s not an easy skill to develop. That said, having a positive attitude and clear goals provides the path to self-motivation. Motivation is the combination of achievement drive, commitment initiative and optimism. When you exhibit these three concepts, you’re effectively motivated.

The fourth important emotional intelligence skill is empathy. Empathy is critical to success in your life and career because it is the ability to recognize how people feel. The better you are at discerning the feelings of those around you, the better you control the signals you send them. Empathetic people are service oriented, embracing of diversity, politically aware and committed to understanding and developing others.

The final category is social skills. Developing good interpersonal skills can increase your success in both your life and career. Social skills are critical in business in order to understand, negotiate, and empathize with others. Some of the most useful social skills to understand and develop are influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, collaboration and team capabilities.

Developing these five skills is essential to increasing your emotional intelligence. In the workplace, emotional intelligence helps you manage your moods and reactions, making you more effective, more productive and all-around less stressed. Emotionally intelligent people make their working days more enjoyable by choosing the right kind of work, enhancing their leadership effectiveness, communicating more effectively and managing conflict with ease.

When you use your emotional intelligence to choose the right kind of work, you’ll choose work based on the kinds of tasks and duties that excite you, which in turn will make you more motivated and productive at work. As a manager, it is helpful to apply emotional intelligence to assess your employees’ needs. Understanding the emotional impact of your decisions on your employees can help you better manage their expectations and more readily answer their questions. When employees use emotional intelligence, it creates richer relationships and enhances the development of team synergy and team building.

In short, emotional intelligence increases productivity, makes leaders more effective and enhances employee morale and satisfaction. How are you sharpening your emotional intelligence skills?

Alex Weber

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