Emotional Intelligence has become an increasingly popular topic when discussing how to help individuals and organizations thrive. But what does it mean? Why does it matter?
A LITTLE HISTORY
According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the term “Emotional Intelligence” was originally coined in 1990 by psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer. They described Emotional Intelligence (EI) as “the ability to recognize, understand, utilize, and regulate emotions effectively in everyday life.”
In 1995, the concept of EI became more mainstream when Daniel Goleman released his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Since that time, there has been greater interest and additional research to better understand what the benefits are of emotional intelligence and how individuals and organizations can tap into those benefits.
MODEL OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
While the plethora of research has resulted in various models relating to EI, the one proposed by Salovey and Mayer is still widely used and relevant. Their model includes the following key elements:
Perceiving emotions - understanding nonverbal indicators such as facial expressions and body language.
Reasoning with emotions - using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity.
Understanding emotions - being able to interpret the emotions of others and what drives their behavior.
Managing emotions - regulating one’s reactions to emotions and responding appropriately.
One of the advantages of EI over IQ is that EI can be studied and developed over time. While some may have a higher baseline than others, it is still a skill that can be learned. If you are the type of person who enjoys assessments, here is a list of 17 tests you can check out. If you intend to improve your EI, taking an assessment now can give you a starting point so that you can measure how far you have come.
WHY IT MATTERS
You may be wondering - what’s the big deal? Why do we need to be tuned into emotions at work?
According to the World Economic Forum, Emotional Intelligence is one of the Top 10 skills that you will need to thrive in 2020. It sounds far off, but that’s next year!
The better able you are to pause and discern your feelings, the greater control you have over how you react.
This emotional self-regulation is critical to working well with others. When you develop the skills of emotional intelligence you are also better able to understand and navigate relationships. These skills are invaluable in all aspects of life (not just at work.)
HOW DOES EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE RELATE TO PRODUCTIVITY?
Having greater control over your emotions enables you to stay focused and on track with your work; increasing your productivity.
Did you ever have an experience that was so irritating that your anger prevented you from thinking clearly? Have you ever felt so sad it got in the way of your ability to concentrate? Certainly, there are times when that can’t be avoided. But there are also times when we can gain greater control over how we respond, enabling us to temper our emotions so that our reactions don’t negatively impact our performance.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor
In my next post, I will share some evidence-based strategies to help you start building your emotional intelligence skills.
Enjoy the first few weeks of summer!
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