Emotional Intelligence (EI) is described as a must have if you want to be a good leader but not only. A study reveals that it is also responsible for 58% of your job performance. So, it is worth investing some time and energy to develop and strengthen this skill.
EI is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognise and influence the emotions of those around you. Daniel Goleman has defined 5 components of Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Self-Awareness is described as the cornerstone of EI; It is our ability to recognise and understand our own emotions. It comes down to being present and observe. ‘What do I feel? What make me react? How does it impact the way I respond to a situation?’
We tend to spend a lot of time dwelling in the past and/or thinking, worrying about the future which leave us with very little time to spend in the present moment. Develop your Self-Awareness by choosing consciously to be fully there and paying attention to how you are feeling. Don’t get attached, don’t judge just observe and remember that emotions are fleeting, they just pass and go.
Self-regulation is the second component of Emotional Intelligence and it is as our ability to express our emotions appropriately. ‘Appropriately’ does not mean that you have to put your emotions on lock-down and/or hide your true feelings, it simply suggests waiting for the right time, place, and avenue to express them.
We experience an average of 400 emotional reactions per day. How we respond to people and situation often determines how people respond to us. Being able to regulate these reactions become therefore key in the relationships and interactions we build with others.
Self-regulation is the ability to answer to a situation instead of reacting to it. We tend to react when we are in an emotional state and often it doesn’t come with the best or most appropriate answers. A change of setting, removing yourself physically from the situation or going for a walk, for instance, can help create some space to process emotions and then be able to come back with more clarity.
The third component is Empathy and it is critical to Emotional intelligence.
It is our ability to understand how others are feeling and appreciate that someone might experience a situation differently. It is our capacity to be open-minded and non-judging towards ourselves and one another. And once we recognise the emotional states of others, empathy is being able to respond based on this information.
Emotions can predispose us to act in particular ways. If we are angry, we see the world in a way that tend to reinforce that anger and causes us to act differently than if we are sad or deliriously happy. Acknowledging what we feel helps release the emotion faster instead of being consumed by it.
A great way to develop Empathy is to practice kindness; first and foremost, towards ourselves as we tend to be our worst critic. Empathy is acknowledging how we feel with no labels, ie: A ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ emotion. Accepting what it is, embrace it and let it go.
Social Skills, the 4th element, is defined as our ability to interact well with others and to function effectively in a group environment. Once you understand your own emotions and the feelings of others, you also need to be able to put this information to work in your daily interactions and communications.
We are creatures of emotions, so it does not come as a surprise that emotions guide every decision we make. Having strong Social Skills reflects in our ability to build on each other’s idea when we are part of a team or a group.
So how to develop this valuable skill? Practising active listening is a great way to start; it means to really engage with someone in an active way by asking questions, providing feedback and showing interest, to name a few. Active listening is really creating space to build rapport and trust with someone, which are key elements to any relationship.
The last component of Emotional Intelligence is Motivation. Daniel Goleman emphasises the difference between what is intrinsic motivation and external reward. We are committed, disciplined and self-driven when we are able to tap into our internal motivation and it is from this place that we are able to go beyond expectations. By opposition external reward (ie: money or status) is more short term oriented and don’t last in the long run.
To develop intrinsic motivation choose what you want to focus on. ‘Energy flows where attention goes’, by choosing intentionally to focus on what go well and the things that you love you will create more of them in your life and it will help to keep a positive outlook on life.
The 5 components defined by Daniel Goleman (self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, socials skills and motivation) are good reminders that for Emotional Intelligence to be effective, it has to start with yourself. You can’t enhance other people’s well-being or improve their sense of self without first understanding how you operate on an emotional level.