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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence 01

Emotional intelligence is knowing how to work productively with other people. It is crucial to achieving professional success and continuing to grow over time. Consequently, experts in business and leadership have been increasingly interested in exploring the concept of emotional intelligence over recent years. By understanding the way you and others feel and applying your skills in managing emotions, you may pave the way toward the next steps in your career.

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Defining emotional intelligence

"EI is understanding your own feelings and those of the people you interact with."

Over the years, experts have presented various models of how emotional intelligence works, focusing on whether it is best understood as a personal trait, a set of skills or a combination of both. According to the ability model, EI is the ability to understand your own feelings and those of the people you interact with, adjusting your thinking and behavior accordingly. That means people with high levels of EI can perceive and solve problems involving emotions more effectively than others.

Science journalist and "Emotional Intelligence" author Daniel Goleman wrote in Harvard Business Review about the attributes that make a good leader. He cited EI as an essential factor, breaking the capacity down into five key components:

  • Self-awareness is your knowledge of your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as your impact on other people.
  • Self-regulation is your ability to demonstrate your emotions in a controlled way appropriate to the circumstances.
  • Social skill is about managing relationships and convincing others to move in the same direction.
  • Empathy is being sensitive to people's emotional reactions.
  • Internal motivation is your innate drive to act even without external rewards.

A person may exhibit his or her deep understanding of emotions and their power in many different ways. Writing in Psychology Today, University of New Hampshire professor of psychology Dr. John D. Mayer gave the example that certain individuals may be quicker to realize when someone else has become agitated or angry and take steps to defuse the situation.

Why feelings matter in the office

Emotionally intelligent people may exhibit their abilities in a variety of ways in the office. In a column for Inc., EI specialist Travis Bradberry wrote that emotionally intelligent individuals tend to have a nuanced perspective on how people feel, with a richer vocabulary for describing those feelings with precision. As empathetic people, they tend to feel driven to learn more about others, gaining insights that can help in pushing toward their goals.

Being good at managing your own emotions and those of the people you work with can make a big difference in how well you do your job. Since it frequently takes extensive teamwork and clear communication to complete projects and advance a business's objectives, a focus on EI can bring benefits on both an individual and an organizational level.

Emotional intelligence is one of the core competencies in possessing business acumen as it relates to ethic and etiquette. Relating to workers and engaging with them are strong leadership qualities that make it possible to inspire a team to put in extra effort. Managers with high EI pay attention to the needs of workers, resolve conflicts and keep everyone on track toward shared goals. That added drive to pull together and consistently hit required milestones may be the determining factor that empowers critical initiatives.

How to cultivate emotional intelligence

Professionals can build on their emotional awareness and learn strategies for managing feelings effectively. One way to strengthen your EI is by taking a course that provides exposure to the relevant theories and hands-on practice. Collaborating with others in the classroom can be a valuable means of learning how to work closely with a team, making feelings a strength even under high-pressure conditions.

Real-world situations can also bring many opportunities to enhance your EI. Fast Company pointed out that heading into unfamiliar conditions is often the best strategy for developing soft skills, including emotional awareness. By taking risks, you find out how to adapt to changing circumstances, rising to the occasion of creatively solving problems with greater self-confidence.

Emotional intelligence is one of many areas where students can develop their knowledge and skills, growing the competencies that are most in-demand at today's organizations. If you're ready to take the next steps toward presenting yourself as an effective leader in the workplace, you could benefit from the Expanding Your Emotional Intelligence workshop. This 3 day workshop is part of a curriculum from the Center for Leadership and Development powered by New Horizons. Participants will develop a learning path to enrich your EQ and gain better control over your behavior under duress. Students will learn how to thrive under stress and identify the key competencies of emotional intelligence. Find the next scheduled course date that fits your schedule or watch this free course demo of Emotional Intelligence.

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Terry Mott

Terry Mott

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