Do you know someone who is well liked and respected, responds thoughtfully in times of controversy, and connects with others on a different level? I imagine the answer is yes. I also imagine that you have asked what makes them different. The answer is Emotional Intelligence. Two words that most of us have heard and probably used, however, may not truly understand how impactful it is in our everyday personal and professional lives.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Emotional Intelligence as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” I believe that this definition can be broken down into three personal and three social competencies.

Personal Competencies

  1. Self-Awareness is having an accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, welcoming feedback, and acting on that feedback, avoiding angry tirades, regretful emails, texts, and instant messages, inappropriate humor, and passive aggressive behavior. At its best, self-awareness results in decisive, sound, and timely decisions, despite uncertainties or pressures.
  2. Self-Management is leveraging emotions to create appropriate outcomes for ourselves, our teams, and our organizations, while demonstrating trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and proactiveness.
  3. Self-Motivation is making the time to plan, and then executing on that plan. Self-motivation requires self-reflection, which allows for quick adaptation to new situations and overcoming challenges with poise.

Social Competencies

  1. Social Awareness is seeking to understand, and assuming good intent. It is the ability to relate to, and empathize with, others, which requires respecting and valuing diversity. Said another way, it is seeking to understand and respecting those who look, think, act, or grew up differently than you.
  2. Relationship Management is the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others by demonstrating appreciation, understanding, and support. Yielding better management of difficult or complex situations and leading to positive working relationships with bosses, colleagues, direct reports, clients, and family / friends.
  3. Leadership is the ability to communicate effectively, motivate, and inspire others. True leaders, regardless of their title, facilitate discussions rather than dictate direction and impact others positively.

Emotional Intelligence impacts everything we say and do. It has roots in the foundation that facilitates happiness and success in both our professional and personal lives. As you kick-off the next month, consider the following next steps to better understand and improve your Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Ask trusted individuals in your personal and professional life to provide candid feedback on the competencies discussed above.
  2. Develop small experiments focused on improving your emotional intelligence and test them in your personal and professional interactions. •
    • For example, if you received feedback that you send blunt and unhelpful emails when you are stressed, create an experiment where you draft or forward responses to yourself first. Then in a calmer state of mind, evaluate how the receiver may interpret your communications.
  3. Carve out time (15-30 minutes per week) to reflect on your previous week and develop a gameplan for the upcoming week; self-reflection is key to personal growth.