In simple terms, emotional intelligence is your ability to control your emotions, understand the emotions of others, and react appropriately to those emotions. Emotional Intelligence is such an important skill but is often overlooked. When people hear emotional intelligence they think it means being “soft” and “mushy”, which could not be further from the truth, it is a multi-faceted skill that is extremely important in whichever field you work in. Employers are looking for employees who are both knowledgeable as well as emotionally intelligent. You may be asking yourself why is an employer interested in my emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is fundamental for creating and maintaining relationships, effectively communicating with others, and ensuring productivity. In short, an employee with strong emotional abilities is often a more well–rounded individual. When hiring and promoting, employers look for individuals who are both knowledgeable and have the ability to lead. This means the employee can manage stressful situations, connect and relate with peers and communicate effectively.
One is not born with high emotional intelligence, rather you develop this through actively using and practicing emotional intelligence skills. Strengthening one’s emotional awareness is not just beneficial for a professional life, but it also adds a valuable component to a personal life. It allows you to communicate your thoughts clearly to others, in spite of emotions you may be feeling, allowing you to build and maintain strong relationships. Emotional Intelligence is composed of five elements: motivation, social skills, empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation.
- self-motivation, one completes tasks and strives to reach goals for personal accomplishment not because one was told to do so. One jumps on any opportunity and is ready to give 100% no matter the task.
- Communication: effectively communicate with others, participate in active listening
- Leadership: the ability to inspire and lead others, whether that be through day-to-day operations or a major company change.
- Relationship management: the ability to build and maintain relationships through open and honest communication. You nurture and foster relationships and care about each members thoughts and feelings.
- Conflict management: ability to diffuse conflict or disagreements in a professional manner, through effective communication, leading to an agreement.
- Understanding those around us, understanding their emotions, concerns, and whether or not they are comfortable in their social situation. The key to empathy is being in tune with others, putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their perspective
- Understanding your emotions and how they affect you and your decision making. It is also defined as how you come across to others. Being self-aware means you know how you react in certain situations, and what causes you to react.
Self-Regulation or Self-Management
- The ability to control your emotions, take responsibility, and be accountable. It includes being able to adapt and handle changing circumstances appropriately.
Exercises to strengthen your emotional intelligence
- Practice taking a few moments before reacting. You want to acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing so you can effectively communicate them, not allow them to control your actions, so as to avoid an impulsive reaction.
- When communicating, be open and transparent. Showing transparency and being honest with others builds trust; trust is fundamental to building relationships.
- The moment you start to experience a negative emotion, take a step back. Collect your thoughts and analyze your emotions. Try and fully experience the situation from the other persons perspective.
- Understand your weaknesses and your strengths, be honest with yourself about your capabilities.
- Ask for feedback- hearing feedback from your peers will help you strengthen your self-awareness.
- Practice active listening- this means both listen to the words they are speaking and watch their body language. When engaged in active listening you are giving 100% of your attention to the speaker, shutting down whatever thoughts you might have running through your head, and focusing on their message.
Emotional intelligence is like a muscle, it does not develop and strengthen overnight. It takes implementing these practices in your everyday routine to develop strong emotional intelligence.