Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Intelligence

Up Your EQ

Emotional intelligence (EQ) became a popular term and concept in the 90s. Leadership development programs realized that it was not cognitive intelligence that guaranteed business success but emotional intelligence.

EQ is the “ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior†(Salovey and Mayer, 1990).

Why is emotional intelligence important? It is essential for building relationships with other people as well as understanding yourself and your needs. EQ can help you handle difficult moments and transitions in your life. In your career well developed EQ can make you a more influential and effective leader.

Every leader I have ever worked with, from assistant manager to CEO, has lamented at least one employee or co-worker who was skilled in their area of expertise but seriously lacking in interpersonal finesse. This lack of EQ can make the workplace toxic and unproductive.

When leaders exhibit low EQ, the effects are especially obvious. Employees notice that their performance declines, they waste time avoiding the offender or worrying about an unpleasant encounter and their commitment to the employer diminishes. Many quit and find new work with a more positive and empowering boss.

Some researchers have proposed that EQ can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inherent characteristic.

I firmly believe that these EQ skills can be learned and improved upon with practice.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll share tips for developing skills in each of these areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. To up your EQ you need to better understand each of these skills and what each looks like in action.



Up Your EQ: Part II

Self-Awareness: being good at understanding your own emotions

Self-awareness is the ability to accurately perceive your emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009)

Are you ready to tolerate a little discomfort as you experience the full range of your emotions and develop awareness and insight into what makes you tick? When you don’t take the time to truly know yourself, warts and all, those pesky feelings tend to resurface when you least expect them or want them to.

Self-awareness is a foundational skill so taking the time to master it will facilitate your proficiency in the other three EQ skill areas.

So, what can you do to develop and improve your self-awareness? Lean into your feelings and just notice! Don’t change anything. Just notice. Notice the situation, your thoughts, your behaviors, what led up to this, what story you’re telling yourself. Identify the feeling: happy, sad, angry, jealous, excited, nervous, etc.

I’ve noticed that the mind can get kind of sneaky when we start rooting around in our psyche. But the body NEVER lies, so take some time to notice the physical sensations of each feeling (heart rate, muscles, breathing, sensations in your chest or gut, etc.).

Think about different situations that evoke a variety of emotions. And just notice. Does your mouth go dry? Do you feel butterflies in your stomach? Perhaps a buzzing in your chest? Or a tightening in your jaw? Just notice. You don’t have to change anything right now.

As this becomes more natural, set some time aside to learn to recognize your first signals and signs of stress. As physical sensations are one of the most accurate indicators, I’d recommend you start there. Again, don’t concern yourself with making changes. If it happens organically, ok. But your primary objective this week is to get to know what makes you tick.

If this is challenging for you, start by looking outside yourself for indicators of various emotion in books, movies and music. “Finding your emotions in the expressions of artists allows you to learn about your yourself and discover feelings that are often hard to communicate†(Bradberry and Greaves, 2009)

These are just a few tips to become more aware of your emotions. Connect with me and ask for more ideas. 

Next week, we’ll start exploring how you can manage your emotions.

#emotionalintelligence #servantleadership #success #leadershipdevelopment



Up Your EQ: Part III

Self-Management: Being good at managing your emotions 

Self-management is the ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior positively (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009). 

Now that you’ve tolerated, or even celebrated, an awareness of your full range of emotions—what in the world do you do with them? 

You can’t change something you’re not aware of, so congrats on taking that first step. 

As you practice and even master self-management, you’ll notice that you get in your own way a lot less. And you stop doing things that limit your success. 

You’ll be able to choose how you want to respond in a variety of situations, adapt more readily to changes and take the initiative to achieve your goals. 

You no longer have to be hijacked by your emotions! 

Once you’re aware of an emotion that could take you down an unproductive rabbit hole (like anger, resentment, fear or sadness) the next step is to take a moment to breathe.  

Not a shallow breath, but a slow and conscious breath. Notice the air going in through your nostrils, down your throat, filling your lungs and pushing your belly out a bit. On the exhale, notice the relaxing of your diaphragm and your muscles, the air coming up your throat and out your nostrils. 

Try it right now. 

Give your body the oxygen it needs and your mind the time out it needs from the current stress on your plate. Take three of these breaths and notice how you feel. It takes only 15-20 seconds to do. I call these Breath Breaks and recommend practicing them throughout your day to maintain a more mindful and focused perspective. 

Another approach is to take control of your self-talk, as in upping the positive and decreasing the negative. You will need to be aware of your negative self-talk before you can change it.  

A few simple tips to make these changes are to:  

  • Remove ‘always’ and ‘never’ from your vocabulary and change it to ‘just this time’ or ‘sometimes’ 
  • Turn around judgmental statements like “I’m so stupid†to “I made a mistakeâ€Â 
  • Only take responsibility for your own actions and not anyone else’s  

And one final suggestion is to make self-care a priority. Your mind needs the break, and your body needs the TLC. How you take good care of yourself may look different from your BFF. Just find what recharges your batteries so you are more able to handle what life throws at you. 

These are just a few tips to manage your emotions. Connect with me and let’s talk about more ideas. 

Next week, we’ll start exploring social awareness  

 #emotionalintelligence #servantleadership #success #leadershipdevelopment 



Up Your EQ: Part IV

Social Awareness: Being empathetic to the emotional drives of other people 

Social awareness is the ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009). 

Now that you spent time becoming more aware of your emotions and how to manage them, it’s time to expand your awareness out to those around you. 

Mastering the art of reading a person, a team or a room is an essential skill for any leadership role. If people feel like you understand and support them, their performance improves and their loyalty to your vision increases.

Listening and observing are key components of social awareness. To do these well, we have to stop doing other things like talking, writing emails and texts, planning our response or being mired in our own emotions and thoughts.

High social awareness requires us to be present in the moment. Mindful.

What can you do to increase this awareness besides signing up for a meditation or mindfulness stress reduction class?

Start with calling people by their name. This not only genuinely acknowledges them, it also empowers you to remain connected to them. If you struggle to remember names, start practicing now. Repeat a new name at least twice in that first conversation with them. Say their name to yourself several times after you’re done talking. Make it a point to greet everyone you meet this week by name.

A great place to improve your social awareness, and be entertained at the same time, is the movie theater (or chilling on the couch with Netflix). You can study people and observe them in a variety of settings with minimal distractions and emotional involvement.

Notice their facial expressions and gestures, voice tone and speed, their interactions, relationships and conflict. If you’re at home, rewind to rewatch some scenes to see what cues you may have missed. Make it a goal to watch two movies or shows this week to observe our interesting and messy human race.

“You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.†This advice is social awareness at its best. At least once or twice this week try asking yourself, “If I were this person how would I …?â€

 To answer this access your previous history and interactions with this person to help you understand what they might be feeling and why they might be acting a certain way. Set your own thoughts, beliefs, feelings and tendencies aside. This is about the other person.

These are just a few tips to increase your awareness of your social interactions. Connect with me and let’s talk about more ideas. 

Next week, we’ll start exploring relationship management. 

#emotionalintelligence #servantleadership #success #leadershipdevelopment



Up Your EQ: Part V

Relationship Management: Being good at handling other people’s emotions 

Relationship management is the ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully (Bradberry and Greaves, 2009).

We know relationships—both personal and professional—take work. Even the ones that seem easy take some work. That work consists of time, energy and knowledge of what to do. That knowledge or know-how is emotional intelligence.

The other skills we’ve covered so far—self-awareness, self-management and social awareness all contribute to the success of this skill. If you want that seemingly effortless relationship juju, then this is just what you’re looking for.

So, what can you do to instantly get along with everyone? Not much if you want to stay authentic. But you can take responsibility for your half in a relationship– your presence, words and actions.

Mind your Ps and Qs. Or more specifically, make sure that you are using “pleaseâ€, “thank you†and “I’m sorry†as often and wherever they are needed. Make it a point to use one (or more) of these in each conversation this week.

Those three phrases all demonstrate that you care. How do you go a little deeper to show that you care? Start looking for ways that would be meaningful to each person. Use your social awareness to identify what is significant to them. It might be a greeting card, acknowledging exceptional performance in a meeting or listening when someone is having a hard day. We all appreciate small acts of kindness.

When you need to make decisions that may be difficult for others, don’t just expect them to toe the line. Explain why the decision was made. Or even better, let others know a decision is coming down the pipeline and you are requesting input and are open to workable alternatives. When you demonstrate openness and transparency people feel respected and connected to the organization.

As a leader it is often part of your job to give feedback. The way you deliver it makes a difference. Will you beat around the bush or be condescending? Or will you opt for the higher EQ way of being direct and constructive. You’ll need to use your social awareness skills to determine what that means for each person. You can supplement that with keeping notes on what works best individually.

These are just a few tips to improve your relationships. Connect with me and let’s talk about more ideas. Over the next several weeks, I’ll share tips for developing skills in each of these areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. To up your EQ you need to better understand each of these skills and what each looks like in action.