Last week I posted up a list of statements that asked the question: Are you Emotionally Intelligent? Today, I’m going to back track a moment and start exploring what this means and what we’re trying to achieve. The interesting thing about Emotional Intelligence is that since Daniel Goleman compiled the various pieces of work that exist and settled on this terminology, a whole world of work has been spawned, and a lot of it very insightful to the human condition at work.
A company I’ve had contact with in the past was Consulting Tools. They’ve invested a lot of time and effort into developing an array of online questionnaires that help to develop your EQ in various ways. A psychologist by the name of Reuven Baron developed an inventory that helps you to assess your emotional strengths and weaknesses. There’s a well known consortium known as the EI Consortium who try and drive best practise in the development of EQ tools, research and reports.
It’s all impressive. And it’s all useful. Ultimately it comes down to how open you are to changing. Actually, it’s about how open you are to the possibility that you need to change. But why? And why use EQ as a measure? Well, if we think about the ‘why’, it’s because EQ helps us to think about a wide berth of behaviours that influence the way others respond to us. That is, the way I act elicits a response and I either understand that or I don’t. If I do, and I can see my behaviour might need to change as a result, then I can be pro-active about it. If I don’t and I remain ignorant, then going through a proper 360 questionnaire helps to raise the awareness, and I can then do something about it if I think I need to. But it’s all about your perception of your effectiveness.
Which is probably the hardest thing to perceive of yourself. Even if you’ve down the self-awareness exercise, do I perceive there’s something I need to now go ahead and do? And do I need to improve my behaviour across all the EQ competencies? Well, no. But you need to understand that you are more than capable of displaying them, and given the situation you are facing, it is your choice about how you do this.
For example, if your EQ competency of ’empathy’ is low, this does not mean you are incapable of being empathetic. It means that you do not display this competency that often and need to recognise the situations where you need to display it better.
Is it possible to improve how you display your EQ competencies? Absolutely. Through robust coaching, feedback, personal reflections and more, you can build more awareness about EQ and about how you display them. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do for my personal development is learn how to do this well. And it’s something I remain continually mindful of. As an L&Der, it’s almost a basic component of what helps me to be effective at what I do.
As with most self-development tools, use EQ as a way of helping you to appreciate what you’re already good at, what you can do and should be doing to maximise this, and to think about what you’re not good at and what you can do to not let that get in your way. And only work with those who have formal qualifications in the area or a thorough understanding of the tools.