The commercials on television today highlight treatments for low this and that, but unfortunately we don’t hear much about low Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
Here are some symptoms: You know you’re brilliant, yet you find yourself reacting with impatience and anger when others just don’t get it. Maybe your feedback to a teammate failed to come across the way you had intended. If as a leader at work, at home or in your community you have any of these symptoms, you’re possibly suffering from low EQ.
The key to good EQ is to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of those around you. Until we become accountable for our own emotions, we can’t manage them. Likewise, an awareness of others’ emotions helps us manage our response to facilitate the most effective interaction. Here are four steps to help boost your EQ.
Recognize your own emotions. You’re in a meeting and Bob says something that you know is absolutely wrong. You want to publicly call him out and correct his error — but you’ve been down that road in the past. Fortunately, you coach yourself to hold back your response.
Manage your emotions. You remind yourself that Bob is a bright guy. To show him respect, you could say something like, “Gee, Bob, I had not thought of it like that before. Can you explain the logic of how that would work?” Your tone of voice and body language are critical because they reveal your true emotions. Bob explains, and you see that he’s just operating from a different perspective. In any case, you’ve managed your emotions and maintained your decorum — signs of good EQ.
Recognize the emotions of others. You run into a peer, Jen, who seems a bit down and overwhelmed. You’re depending on her to deliver the data you need for your project’s next step, and the deadline is tomorrow. Your immediate fear is that it’s not going to happen. Now that you’ve been working to raise your EQ, it doesn’t take an EQ genius to realize that putting a guilt trip on her is probably not a good idea, so you give her support.
Respond appropriately/effectively to the emotions of others. Because you’re not fear-motivated, you focus on encouraging Jen. You choose to show her some empathy and encouragement, telling her that you understand things are difficult and asking if you and your team can help. You remind her that she is a great teammate, valuable in your company’s culture and that you have confidence in her.
Having good EQ may sound somewhat soft, but it’s actually powerful because it’s about being the most effective leader possible.
It begins with awareness; we can’t manage what we don’t recognize, and then it’s about managing our own emotions and our response to others.
In the simplest terms, it’s about reading the situation and then acting in the most effective manner. It does get easier with practice, and it makes you the kind of leader others want to follow. Try it and see for yourself.