Emotional Intelligence – It matters! Here’s why!

Have you ever been around a person who immediately makes you feel comfortable, you feel at ease and are able to open up and be yourself around them? Sometimes, you might have just met them but feel like you know them for ever! This effortless rapport can be so welcoming in all domains of life – at home or with friends or even at work. Who wouldn’t want peers or leaders who understood and enabled you right?

Well, this superpower has been given the name of Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient and can be described as the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and perceive and respond to those of others. The term was coined by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer and was further developed by Daniel Goleman.

The best thing about this superpower is that it can be learned. So, let’s dig in a little more to get started or move further on this journey of being Emotionally Intelligent. Especially in current times, I believe building emotional intelligence will help us become resilient as individuals and empathetic as a society to coexist compassionately.

Emotional intelligence as an entity can be broken down into 5 competencies, and by recognizing and enhancing each of these we can sharpen our EI, to become more well-rounded individuals, professionally and personally. Here they are –

  • Self-awareness (being in touch with our own emotions)
  • Self-management (managing emotions so they don’t impede our functionality)
  • Motivation (personal drive to be competent and resilient)
  • Empathy (knowing and understanding what others are feeling)
  • Social skills (to use all these traits for productive communication and relationship building)

When I think about emotional intelligence at work, I remember myself as a young, inexperienced manager. The initial few months I believed that emotions got in the way of work and even though as a human being, I was fairly cognizant of human emotions, I tried not to be that way at work. Duh!! Till I took the first step of creating self-awareness and recognizing my own feelings and emotions to be my authentic self at work. That in itself, made me feel more confident and set me up for success.

Once we’ve taken an account of our feelings, it is important to also regulate what we are feeling, so that we respond and not react. Outstanding self-management means we can adapt effectively to situations as they change. So, we don’t hold anything in or bottle up our emotions, but at the same time, we don’t let our emotions get the better of us. The benefit of this at work is that we can express feelings in constructive ways and instead of blame and criticism we focus on development and growth.

The third and last aspect of Emotional Intelligence which deals with looking inwards is motivation and it enables us to set achievable goals, build readiness, take initiative and be assertive without making unreasonable demands on ourselves. Self-motivation helps us learn the skills we need to be successful and optimistic.

Internal work is a continuous process but once it becomes a way of life then the next step of developing meaningful relationships, can benefit greatly from empathy. Empathy is not solely perceiving the way others feel but being invested in being able to take action based on what we perceive. This could involve developing our teams, providing human-centered service orientation to our clients, being politically aware and respecting the feelings of others without being judgmental.

Finally, building social skills is a critical component of EQ as well. If this is a practice adopted at an organizational level, it has a ripple effect of improving the overall culture of the workplace. But as individuals too if we strive to develop our social skills as we work with our teams, we will in turn be able to develop a healthy work environment with better communication and collaboration. Our social skills help us build trust in our network and communities and improve out self-esteem and confidence.

As Tara Meyer Robson says – ‘When awareness is brought to an emotion, power is brought to life.” I believe emotionally intelligent people are able to mobilize their emotions positively, live life authentically and purposefully by navigating their way through obstacles, staying rooted in what they value and being more productive. All this while having meaningful relationships, win-win I say.