Understanding Your Emotional Intelligence
The term Emotional Intelligence (EI) was created by John Mayer and Peter Salovey in an attempt to quantify how emotions, emotional control and social skills contribute to success. As a new measurement and type of intelligence, it has come under some scrutiny from the academic community but is generally accepted as a skill that can be taught. The link between emotional intelligence and leadership has been fairly well-established, so developing your skills in this area can give you a leg up as a leader.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand how they make you react and harness those reactions for the best results. It also refers to your ability to recognize others' emotions and elicit a desired reaction. For example, many people struggle to motivate others, while some seem to have an innate ability to inspire the best efforts of those around them. These inspirational leaders have high emotional intelligence.
What Can Increased Emotional Intelligence Do for You?
According to Goleman, author of Focus: A Hidden Driver of Excellence, the major difference between highly effective senior management and merely average management professionals can be pinpointed as emotional intelligence. After all, their profiles tend to be identical except in areas surrounding EI. The psychology of leadership requires excellent managers to be able to recognize and respond to the emotional currents around them. They also must be able to control their own reactions to make the right decision.
Do you Have High Emotional Intelligence?
To judge your own level of emotional intelligence, ask yourself these questions:
• Do I enjoy meeting new people?
• Am I easily distracted?
• Can I identify stress factors and my own emotions?
• Do I read facial expressions well?
• Am I intuitive?
These are just a few indicators of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, social skills and empathy form the core of EI. If you answered yes to all of these questions, chances are you have high emotional intelligence. For most people, there are areas of strength and weakness. For example, someone who is very empathetic might not be very focused. Someone who is easily distracted might be very engaged with others socially.
Can You Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?
Yes, like any skill, you can learn to apply emotional intelligence more freely to situations. Everyone has some emotional intelligence, the trick is to identify areas where you area weak and work to improve them. If meeting new people is nerve-wracking, put yourself in situations designed to push past your comfort zone. By practicing the skills of emotional intelligence, you expand your ability to control both your own emotions and the emotions of those around you.
Interested in pursuing a career in psychology? Explore our College of Behavioral Sciences.