Have you ever noticed that people often have widely different emotional reactions to the exact same situation?
Throughout our childhood, our personal lives, and our professional careers, each of us have been conditioned to react differently to certain events. In many cases, we may not even know how we will react ahead of time.
Anything from a fender bender, to a new product launch, to an explosion at a facility, to coping with a pandemic can trigger emotional reactions that we can’t always anticipate in ourselves, much less in others.
It’s a real dilemma for anyone looking to advance themselves and their career. Understanding the role that emotion plays in our daily lives — how it affects us and how it affects others — can be incredibly useful. It can help us make better decisions, communicate with others, and become better leaders.
EI vs IQ (emotional intelligence vs. intelligence quota)
How well we understand our emotions, our ability to express them, our ability to control our emotions, and our ability to recognize them in others is called emotional intelligence, or EI. The more we become aware of ourselves and others, the better we can understand the core competencies of emotional intelligence and positively affect the outcome of a situation.
If you are familiar with IQ, it’s important not to think of them as the same. The difference between these two intelligence scores is night and day:
- IQ is a fixed score. No amount of effort or study can change the number we’ve been given at birth. While having a high IQ score can be seen as important and possibly enviable, no one can increase their IQ in any significant way.
- EI can be developed. Your emotional intelligence can be evolved and molded with awareness, training, and practice. Below, we’ve outlined the six core competencies of EI, and the more you know about each one the better your reaction to specific situations will be, and the more likely you will experience a successful outcome.
People who actively work to develop their emotional intelligence often become better leaders. Not only is the decision to better yourself an indication of high leadership qualities, but being in tune with your own emotions and the emotions of those around you can have a demonstrable impact on decision making and your ability to identify opportunities and deliver results.
Quite simply, there are productive and unproductive ways of reacting to a situation. The more you react productively, the better the outcome. The better you understand and master the 6 core competencies of emotional intelligence, the better you will be able to control your emotional reactions to any given situation.
Six Core Competencies of Emotional Intelligence
1. Emotional Self-Awareness
Self-Awareness is about being aware of the way you feel and the impact your feelings can have on decisions, behaviour and performance. People who are emotionally self-aware are conscious of the role their feelings can play in these areas, and are better equipped to manage this influence effectively. When we are emotionally self-aware we are present with the role feelings are playing in our decisions, behaviour and performance. When we are not, we are often disconnected from this influence.
The following fictional story illustrates how the competencies can work for us if we have mastered them and against us if we have not.
Let’s say a very successful company has a fire at one of their manufacturing facilities. The COO is notified while she is in a meeting surrounded by her team. Her first reaction is to drop the phone and visibly panic over what to do next. She reacts this way because she has little awareness of her emotional self during an emergency. The outcome is to stoke confusion and chaos among her colleagues because she has become disconnected from herself. Instead of delegating, she delayed giving direction that could alleviate the crisis..
If our COO had mastered Self-Awareness, she may have been aware that she reacts to emergencies with panic, and been able to work on that. She would have recognized her immediate emotional reaction quickly and switched into the positive leadership role that her firm needed so badly at that moment.
2. Emotional Awareness of Others
Awareness of Others is about perceiving, understanding and acknowledging the way others feel. This skill helps us identify the things that make people feel valued, listened to, cared for, consulted, and understood. It also helps us demonstrate empathy, anticipate responses or reactions, and adjust our behaviour so that it fits well with others. When we demonstrate this skill effectively we come across as being empathetic. People who do not demonstrate this skill can come across as being insensitive to the way others feel.
In the example of the explosion, the COO dropped the phone and became disconnected from those around her, the team that could have helped her get services out quickly. Once she unhinged, she was unable to recognize the emotional reactions of those around her. She is surrounded by some highly intelligent people, who would undoubtedly be able to provide assistance. But she was unaware of their ability to help because she could not see past the situation at hand.
If our COO had mastered Awareness of Others, she would have immediately been able to scan the room and find the people who were emotionally ready to pitch in. In combination with knowing each of their strengths and weaknesses could have delegated appropriate actions for each of them to take.
Authenticity is about openly and effectively expressing oneself, honouring commitments and encouraging this behaviour in others. It involves honestly expressing specific feelings at work, such as happiness and frustration, providing feedback to colleagues about the way you feel, and sharing emotions at the right time, to the right degree and, to the right people. People high in authenticity are often described as genuine, whereas people low in this skill are often described as untrustworthy.
To continue with this example, let’s say the crisis has passed, the fire has burned the building to the ground and thankfully no one was hurt. She calls a meeting and deflects blame onto the workers on the factory floor — saying they should have done a better job maintaining the equipment.
If she had mastered Authenticity, she would have been able to express her feelings as legitimate concern for the safety of her workers, and not be burdened with the “need” to protect herself. An authentic reaction would have led to a productive conversation about what could be done to solve the problem, where as her inauthentic ration undoubtedly resulted in many employees losing their respect for her.
4. Emotional Reasoning
Emotional Reasoning is about using emotions as important criteria to make appropriate decisions. This involves considering the feelings of yourself and others, combined with important factual information, and communicating all of this into a rational decision-making process.
Let’s say, the explosion is now a thing of the past and it’s time to explain the crisis to the public. By being strictly clinical about this messaging, the COO is missing an opportunity to appeal to the emotions of her customer base and win back their trust.
If, on the other hand, she had mastered Emotional Reasoning, it would allow her to convey her own, very real emotions about the crisis, and explain the steps they were taking to prevent it from ever happening again. Understanding how she, her employees, and the public feel about the crisis, would allow her to accurately convey a message that would get the best possible response from the public.
5. Emotional Self-Management
Self-Management is about managing one’s own mood, emotions, and behaviour to continuously improve oneself. The modern workplace is generally one of high demands and pressure, and this can create negative emotions and outcomes. Our moods can be infectious and can be a powerful force among colleagues — either productively or unproductively. This skill helps people be resilient and manage high work demands and stress rather than being temperamental at work. People who are proficient in managing their own emotions are optimistic and seek opportunities even when faced with difficult situations.
Our COO let the crisis demoralize her. In the wake of the disaster, she would come to work disheveled and short tempered. She distracts herself with unimportant projects and avoids conversation of the explosion altogether. Her team sees her negative temperament and avoids her at any cost, resulting in reduced creativity and poor productivity.
If she had mastered Self-Management, she would still be in touch with her feelings about the crisis, and use it to motivate her throughout the workday. She would solicit new ideas and praise efforts to participate creatively. The team would understand her perspective on the event, because of her actions. She is being guided by a comprehensive understanding of how that event changed her. Her reactions are the driving force behind a renewed sense of duty and commitment
6. Inspiring Performance
Inspiring Performance is about positively impacting the way others feel through problem solving, feedback, recognizing and supporting others work. It involves creating a positive working environment for others, helping others find effective ways of responding to upsetting events and effectively helping people resolve issues that are affecting their performance. This skill helps people create a productive environment for others. It empowers people to operate at their best.
Our COO has let the crisis derail her career and realizes her mindset needs to change if she’s going to get it back on track. With input from a friend, she now understands the impact that improving her EI could have. As she begins to work with her performance coach, she starts to see all of the impacts that her own emotions have had on her workforce.
She now understands that mastering the 6th competency, Inspiring Performance, will empower her team. She can see that productivity is based on her capacity to encourage colleagues to cooperate and work effectively together. Rather than be driven by her emotions, she can use them to positively influence others’ moods, feelings, and emotions, and motivate them to be better as well.
Even the most powerful business leaders in the world have help.
Recognizing how to improve your emotional intelligence and understanding the core competencies of emotional intelligence can be impossible on your own. The very idea of seeing that emotional connection between who you are and who you want to be can be a challenge — let alone bridging that gap.
We can all use an outside perspective when it comes to EI, because most of us won’t be able see past what’s keeping us from being great in the first place. Schedule a free EI consultation today and understand how the core competencies of emotional intelligence directly impact you!