Street smart. Book smart. Common sense. Knowing your Ps and Qs. There are many ways to define one’s intelligence. However, one thing that pays high dividends from the entry-level mail sorter to the chairman of the board is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has become a lens we often use to assess and act upon problems, people, past decisions, and future opportunities. Therefore, developing such intelligence is for everyone.
Emotional intelligence is our capacity to identify, use, comprehend, and manage our emotions in such a way that we can positively function in stressful situations.
You are with us or against us. Go big or go home. My way or the highway. When we fear something, we lose the capacity to communicate effectively. We fear what others will think of our fear. We fear we’ll lose control of the outcome, and so we start kicking and scratching and fighting dirty in order to maintain some semblance of control. Being aware of and relying upon our emotional intelligence allows us to move forward rationally, effectively, and productively – regardless of the amount of stress that exists during particularly challenging situations.
These skills can be developed and honed. One might start by becoming more self-aware. How are you feeling and why do you think you’re feeling that way? It seems a little trite, but we often are wracked with overwhelming emotions about something, and yet we don’t take the time to wonder what exactly we’re feeling, and what really is the cause of such powerful emotions. We sense a symptom, we see a consequence, and we charge forward, not really caring who’s in front of us. Being more self-aware, identifying emotions, processing emotions, and ultimately owning our emotions, will enable us to call upon our own strengths and abilities to help see ourselves beyond the stressful situation. Feelings are natural – even the negative ones. We have to own them, let them happen, and decide what we’re going to do with them. If we find that some weakness of our own helped put us in a situation that caused those feelings to bubble up, well, at least we know what we need to work on.
Life seems to be a series of moments and choices and too often we aren’t given a lot of time to process those choices in a way we would like. We are often left having to choose which path to take, not knowing what lies just beyond the next bend. When we start to be more self-aware and allow ourselves to feel and own those emotions that often connect themselves to those moments and choices, we take great strides towards being able to actually move forward in such a way where those feelings aren’t calling the shots. The rashness of a hasty reaction may give way to a more thoughtful, calculated decision that will benefit all involved. Developing your emotional intelligence will help you stay true to previously explored and accepted commitments, as well as future, ever-changing opportunities and challenges. You can adapt and learn.
Unfortunately, not all of this happens in a vacuum. Taking a few minutes – or maybe 30 seconds – to quietly hone in on what emotion seems to be controlling you is difficult when there’s someone screaming in your ear, demanding your attention, challenging your choices, and/or all of the above. Another high-paying dividend of developing your own emotional intelligence will be your ability to recognize and read those around you and get a clearer sense of where they’re coming from, what emotions might be coursing through their veins, and where they think they stand in the situation. In knowing yourself, you will see your reflection in the faces and decisions of your colleagues and associates, and you will process their needs, concerns and feelings all the more efficiently and productively.
Trust. Dependability. Faith. Respect. Confidence. All of these concepts are necessary in order to successfully move an idea forward and gain positive strides in any situation. A high level of emotional intelligence will help develop those integral relationships that are needed to create a positive, constructive working environment. Conflict will dissipate, clarity will reign supreme, and cooler heads will prevail.
So instead of “my way or the highway,” maybe we can all learn to understand our emotional intelligence and the emotional intelligence of those around us and move forward.