Thu | Dec 14, 2017

Charting emotional intelligence

Published:Sunday | October 1, 2017 | 12:35 AMAshish Jhingran

At some stage in your life you might have taken an IQ test and compared your intelligence quotient score with that of Einstein, who is considered a benchmark of intelligence; if not, you would have at least heard the term IQ or Intelligence Quotient.

But, have you come across the term EQ or Emotional Intelligence? I am not too sure about that.

It is not surprising, for until recently the measure of people’s smartness, skilfulness and professional calibre was their IQ.

Things have, however, changed after the mid-90s with the coining of the new phrase ‘Emotional Intelligence’the measure of which is called Emotional Quotient or EQ. Since then, EQ has slowly but surely attracted the attention of senior managements, particularly the Human Resource departments, of many corporates and is considered an important yardstick during recruitment of new employees and performance appraisals of the existing ones.

What is Emotional Intelligence and how does it matter?

As Daniel Goleman, the internationally acclaimed psychologist and science journalist who is credited for bringing ‘Emotional Intelligence’ to the forefront through his book with the same title in mid 90s, puts it across “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels”.

How developed and active is your mind that feels, determines the level of emotional intelligence you possess.

Your ability to perceive, evaluate and control emotions of self and others and act accordingly, has the power to bring high rates of success in your professional pursuits.

While hiring managers definitely look at your certificates and evaluate your knowledge and skills relevant to the vacant position, they are, across many organisations across the world, evaluating the soft skills like empathy, motivation, interpersonal skills, anger management, etc, that you have.

These are the traits that lead them to understand your ability to perform as part of a team, build relationships with associates and clients and the potential of being a future leader of the organisation.

Employers say that emotionally intelligent employees tend to be highly satisfied with their jobs hence the organisation has low rates of employee turnover and consequently, better pool of experienced employees to choose future leaders from.

Very often when applicants get a call to attend an interview,, they tend to prepare for it by polishing up their knowledge, skills, etc those have been taught during the formal education at school/university but rarely focus on preparing the soft skills that may be needed for the job.

 

The fact is that one cannot prepare for such skills in one day or one week before the job interview, as these traits are embedded in us, and at best, can only be tweaked by toning down some emotions and highlighting some others. This takes time.

For example, compassion for others comes from feeling the needs of others, coupled with the desire to be instrumental in fulfilling that need. This may have developed in your formative years by observing a similar behaviour of someone close to you, like your parents.

Similarly, seeking and listening to others’ opinions in a team project has to do with being participative in a group situation rather than being authoritative and declaring that it is “either my way or high way”. This is a trait of a person with humility and respect for others which cannot be imbibed in just a day.

Can Emotional Intelligence be acquired?

Emotions, in varied degrees, reside within all of us, however, which become strong and which take a back seat, depends upon the values that are imbibed in us by our elders/teachers and the environment that we grow in. Good news is that by making conscious efforts one can alter the degrees of these emotions thereby suppressing those which are detrimental and bringing those to the fore which help in evoking positive actions and consequently, positive results for us in our workplace.

Some suggestions for making such improvements are:

Introspect and become aware of your pluses and minuses: Our past actions give us a good reflection of what we have been. Introspection should be the first step to become aware of our strengths and weaknesses. How have we reacted in the various situations; how did we handle successes and failures; what reactions have our actions evoked and were those actions logical or emotionally charged. These are some questions which will give us a direction to work upon.

Control your actions and reactions: Make it a point never to react or respond in emotionally charged atmosphere. Remember, a word spoken or a mail sent in anger can do a lot more harm than imagined. Do not get involved in office politics. Deal with problems maturely by looking for ways to solve rather than getting irritated and frustrated.

Keep yourself motivated: Identify what inspires you and focus your energies in that direction. Motivated people stay positive and do not get deterred by flops and failures. Instead, failure strengthens their resolve and they approach the subject with renewed energy and thought.

Empathy is an important key to win people: Be it a small team or a large organisation that you are leading, treat others in the same way as you want to be treated by them. Understand that they are humans, too. Step into their shoes and see their viewpoints. Evaluate your own viewpoints, too and seek common grounds, particularly in conflict situations.

Develop interpersonal skills: Build integrity in your personality. Communicate with the right people in the right way. Provide solutions to people who come to you with their problems, if you can’t at least guide them to someone who can. Be genuine and not pretentious. Build your own equity.

These guidelines will definitely bring about a positive change in how you see yourself as well as how others see you, at your workplace or even outside. Emotional Intelligence cannot be learnt or improved in a day or two but over a period of time and with continuous conscious efforts, it can be improved upon to make a positive impact on your career plan ahead.

(Information sourced from Daniel Goleman’s ‘Emotional Intelligence’)

- Ashish Jhingran is a Jamaica-based management and marcom practitioner and senior consultant with Synapse Communications. He has more than 25 years of experience with international companies, spanning several countries across the world. Send feedback to synapseworld@gmail.com