The Power of Emotional Intelligence
Applying EI to yourself and those around you gives you the insight to see beyond what is happening on the surface
This week, I spent several days teaching first responders various leadership and communication tactics. One of the sessions centered around emotional intelligence, which I describe as the ability to use, control, and identify emotions in yourself and others.
I believe emotional intelligence not only creates better citizens, but can be a superpower for leaders. There are four tenants to EI: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. Even employing the first one - the understanding that you have emotional responses - can positively change how you interact with others.
As leaders, we can take it further and apply emotional intelligence to every situation we encounter; from partners, spouses, employees, vendors, competitors, customers, prospects, or the delivery guy. Each of these interactions involves a human and can be positively influenced by applying emotional intelligence.
Let’s take a look at those four tenants in more detail:
First, being cognizant of the fact that you have emotional reactions to situations. This reaction is informed by your own history, experiences, influences, and inner-monologue. Once you recognize that you experience emotional reactions (which are often distilled into 6-7 high-level emotions: joy, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, and contempt), you can begin to manage them.
Once we know we have emotional responses, we can begin to weld power over them. When we recognize we are becoming angry (or happy, or sad, or fearful, or surprised), we can often identify the underlying cause of those reactions. “I am angry … why?” This brief pause allows us to zoom out on the issue, rather than focusing on the immediate spark that ignited our response.
Just like we have emotions, those around us (socially) are experiencing emotional responses. From the barista to the bookkeeper, and your spouse to the Sr Vice President of the company, every other human is experiencing emotional responses based on their own history and life story. The ability to perceive this will boost your communication skills, connection, and effectiveness.
When we can identify our own emotions and learn how to manage them within ourselves, we can easily adapt to emotional responses in others. We often use words like compassion, empathy, and sympathy to describe recognizing emotion in others. When it comes to your own team or employees, they may be experiencing external pressures causing them to arrive late, miss deadlines, or lash out during a meeting. Effective emotional intelligence leads us to look for contributing factors rather than judging strictly based on what we observed in the moment.
Emotional Intelligence is like a muscle, it becomes stronger the more we use it. As we use it, we begin to see people and situations through a different lens, a lens of understanding, compassion, and empathy. It helps us see the why behind someone’s actions - which ultimately gives us clarity to see through the situation.
Like a superpower.
All the best,