Emotional intelligence is emerging as a key attribute of high performing business leaders. Companies such as American Express have realized the power of using emotional intelligence to recruit and train top sales people.
Do you hear the words Emotional Intelligence and run screaming in the other direction? Do the words conjure up a picture of “shiny, happy, people holding hands?” If so, you may be looking at the concept of emotional intelligence in the wrong way. In his book, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman expells some of the myths surrounding emotional intelligence.
- Emotional Intelligence (EI) does not mean merely “being nice.” At strategic moments EI may demand not being nice, for example, bluntly confronting someone with an uncomfortable but consequential truth they’ve been avoiding.
- Emotional Intelligence does not mean giving free reign to feelings, “letting it all hang out.” Rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goals.
- Women are not “smarter” than men when it comes to emotional intelligence, nor are men superior to women. Each of us has a personal profile of strengths and weaknesses in these capacities. Some of us may be highly empathetic but lack some abilities to handle our own distress; others may be quite aware of the subtlest shift in our own mood, yet be inept socially.
- It is true that men and women as groups tend to have a shared, gender-specific profile of strong and weak points. An analysis of emotional intelligence in thousands of men and women found that women, on average, are more aware of their emotions, show more empathy, and are more adept interpersonally. Men, on the other hand, are more self-confident and optimistic, adapt more easily, and handle stress better.
- In general, however, there are far more similarities than differences. Some men are as empathetic as the most interpersonally sensible women are, while some women are very bit as able to withstand stress as the most emotionally resilient men. Indeed, on average, looking at the overall ratings for men and women, the strengths and weaknesses average out, so that in terms of emotional Intelligence, there are no sex differences.
- Our level of emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, nor does it develop only in childhood. Unlike IQ, which changes little after our teen years, emotional intelligence seems to be largely learned, and it continues to develop as we go through life and learn from out experiences.
- Studies that have tracked people’s level of emotional intelligence through the years show that people get better and better in these capabilities as they grow more adept at handling their emotions and impulses, at motivating themselves, and at honing their empathy and social adroitness. The old-fashioned word for this growth in emotional intelligence was maturity.
Emotional Intelligence is a skill we can all develop to better work with and manage ourselves and others. To understand your level of emotional intelligence, contact Elaine Morris for more information or to take the EQi assessment.