Take a Look at Your Own Emotional Intelligence

Work & Family Life, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Take a Look at Your Own Emotional Intelligence


Workers face competition from every direction these days. We have to keep learning new skills, accept change as a given and roll with the punches. As older workers retire and companies downsize, those who remain must be more accountable.

In this environment, a person's emotional intelligence, or EQ, can be as important as his or her technical skills. Getting along with people, accepting feedback and staying cool under fire are all EQ issues, says Adele B. Lynn in her new book The EQ Interview (Amacom/Society for Human Resource Management).

What EQ is not

Emotional intelligence is often misunderstood, says EQ guru Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. It's not "being nice." It may, in fact, mean confronting people with a message they need to hear. Nor is it "letting it all hang out." And the idea that it's genetic or that women naturally have a higher EQ than men is also a misconception.

People often equate EQ with social skills: how we relate to the outside world and to other people. But emotional intelligence also has to do with our internal world - the part of us that drives how we respond to the external world. Adele Lynn's EQ model includes: self - awareness and self-control, empathy, social expertness, personal influence and mastery of purpose. And within each of these five areas, specific abilities - or competencies - emerge.

Self-awareness and self-control

This means understanding ourselves and our impact on others - and using that information to manage our emotions appropriately and productively. It involves a good understanding of (a) how our behavior affects others, (b) how our emotions affect our behavior and (c) what our skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses really are.

To assess your self- awareness and self-control, give some thought to these situations: When you did or said something that had a positive (or negative) impact on a coworker or customer. When someone interpreted something you said negatively even though you didnt intend it that way. When you realized that you needed to adjust or modify your behavior.

Empathy for others

In Adele Lynn's model, empathy is the ability to understand other peoples perspectives and is characterized by (a) respectful listening, (b) feeling the impact of our words and actions on others and (c) a desire to be helpful.

To assess your capacity for empathy, consider these workplace situations: When you didnt understand why someone was acting a certain way or taking a certain position. When a conversation did not go well. When you sensed something was bothering a coworker or that he or she was struggling. When you offered help to someone without being asked. When you did something outside your job description. …

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