What Is Emotional Intelligence, and Why Is It Important?
Emotional intelligence starts with understanding your own emotions (self-awareness), then being able to manage them (self-regulation) and use them to achieve your goals (self-motivation). Once you are able to understand and manage yourself, you can understand the emotions and feelings of others (empathy) to positively interact with them (social skills)1. Emotional intelligence (often referred to as EQ or EI) is comprised of those five components.
Self-awareness is a basic understanding and acceptance of one’s personality. It also involves having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. This awareness allows you to behave with humility and can be a catapult for personal development.
Self-regulation is how we manage emotions and control our thoughts and feelings when dealing with others. It’s about remaining in control, keeping an open mind free of bias, and authentically engaging with others. Self-regulation is not acting without emotion; it’s the ability to act appropriately with emotions.
Motivation is having a thirst for personal development. You know what you need to succeed, whatever your version of success looks like. You aspire to accomplish goals because they align with your calling, purpose, and growth.
Empathy is not just walking in someone else’s shoes. It’s the practice of being in the present moment with another human being feeling into their experience without shutting them out. It’s understanding and accepting that whatever that person says, how they feel, and what they need is true for them. When we show up to meet someone with empathy, we can genuinely help them.
Social skills are perhaps the most obvious sign of high emotional intelligence. Having strong social skills allows people to build meaningful relationships and develop a more robust understanding of themselves and others.
Our EQ affects how we respond to ourselves and others in our home and work environments. A high EQ allows you to build and maintain healthy, lasting relationships by empathizing, communicating effectively, and being both self and socially aware.
Organizations with high emotional intelligence allow and encourage employees to perform up to their full potential. How can you recognize high EQ on a team?
- Trust. Employees know their strengths and weaknesses and come prepared for authentic collaboration. They aren’t afraid to ask for help, admit fault, give credit, and recognize peers.
- Open communication. An emotionally intelligent team is optimistic and unafraid to take risks to create and learn. They have an ability to seek new opportunities and solutions as a sign of the team’s drive.
- Diversity and Inclusion. “Three of the core skills for D&I are self-awareness, empathy, and self-regulation. Emotionally intelligent individuals are aware of their biases, able to empathize with different people, and able to regulate their emotions and reactions to manage interactions better”2. This fosters a work environment where all groups of people are valued and respected.
- Curiosity and innovation. Teams are effective in asking questions and listening to one another. They seek constructive criticism as a stepping stone to build. The organization likely has a culture of growth and development. Curiosity combats negativity and stress, which increases the resilience of the employee, team, and the organization.
- Skills you Need, https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/social-skills-emotional-intelligence.html
- The Institute for Health and Human Potential, https://www.ihhp.com/emotional-intelligence-training/