Emotional Intelligence: The Greatest Skill You're Not Developing

For the longest time we have been pushed to work on our intellectual senses. That at the core of success and great personal achievement is supreme intelligence. Brain power is highly valued in the world. We push standards and tests on younger generations in order to take make the smartest and brightest beings.

Yes…but no.

Our brain power, our IQ, are not the skills we should fill the entire void. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the practice we must adopt into our lives immediately. Our emotional intelligence is a significant part of who we are paired with our personality and IQ. Books by Daniel Goleman and Dr. Travis Bradberry have been part of the revolutionizing of EQ and as Bradberry mentions in the book “We have more than 400 emotional experiences per day.”. Think back on your own days and how emotion plays a factor in your day to day life. I would venture to say a bigger impact than we might recognize. Top people have EQ and studies prove their worth is measurable (average $1,300 to annual salary). Ultimately our EQ leads to more success and production than IQ alone, but like any other skillset we must take steps to work at it to improve.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can be summarized as the controlling our emotions, thoughts, and actions to lead into a productive way of life. It is made up of five components that carry underneath influencing factors. There is self awareness which is the ability to recognize and understand our emotions and reactions. Self-management where we manage, control, and adapt our emotions, mood, reactions, and responses. Motivation, ability to harness our emotions to motivate ourselves to take appropriate action, commit, follow-through, and work toward the achievement of our goals. Empathy which is to discern the feelings of others, understand their emotions, and utilize that understanding to relate to others more effectively. Finally, social skills where we build relationships, relate to others in social situations, lead, negotiate conflict, and work as part of a team. These components as you can see have a very direct focus on the way we behave and respond to situations. That is also why it is separate from IQ. IQ tends to be what our minds can find solutions for and you either have a high IQ or you don’t. EQ has no connection to our IQ which is great news! EQ is something that we have the ability to develop and grow.

“The Ability To Control My Emotions And Actions Sets Me Apart From Other Men.” - Navy SEAL Creed

Lead With EQ

One aspect often overlooked is what leaders do with their emotions. We take it for granted that great leaders, true leaders, have high EQ. We see the leaders who can’t control their emotions and more often than not those so called leaders don’t last long. Leaders have superior awareness which leads to them understanding the people around them and help establish a culture of strong and positive emotion. The emotional and mental side of leadership is a result of EQ as leaders are in the position of not only having to manage their own emotions, but the emotions of others. True leaders can use their EQ to ease others into a place where their emotions lead to great production and they avoid the disaster roller coaster. Dale Carnegie said it best when he proclaimed “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion”. Everyone has a job, everyone for the most part has a boss or leader. Find the high EQ ones and learn.

75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.   -Center for Creative Leadership

Emotional Intelligence Factors

  1. Anger Management

    This is the biggest one to look at. We all know someone who can’t control their anger and we’ve seen it get the best of them. We must understand what triggers our emotions and get a giant grasp of them. Understanding these emotions can help us control them and importantly embrace them. They are our emotions that make us who we are. Don’t forget that. The issue with anger management is that people don’t get a handle on it until it is to late. Don’t let that be you. Prepare for how you will handle those aggressive emotions and feelings. Anger has a spiraling downfall that includes stress and anxiety which we brush aside without realizing the harmful things we are doing to our physical body. Caring for our anger helps us live with less stress and baggage energizing us for great things.

  2. Accountability

    Being accountable might not seem like an emotional factor, but if we have something to be held in account to (standard, person, team, etc…) we will be more apt to keep our emotions in check. Part of accountability is not sugar coating things. Own what we are and what we do. High EQ people don’t play the blame game. To be accountable will make us reflect more and take into account the results of our behaviors. This eliminates impulse which gets enough people in trouble.

  3. Honesty & Trust

    Those with high EQ also are very genuine people. Their word is their word. Making honesty a priority in life will inherently lead to better emotional intelligence. To keep ourselves honest we should make things be open in the light. Darkness is the space of negativity and rash emotion. To be honest we have to have great trust in who and what we are around. If we are limiting in our trust it is an effect of our EQ being underdeveloped. To be honest and truthful our lives need to be real and true. Fake people cannot have emotional regulation.

  4. Confidence & Assertiveness

    Our emotions can take us many places physically and mentally. They can also take us away from doors in life. The emotions we have are tied to our confidence we carry and the ability to assert our talents and skills. A bird has in a sense EQ as when it sits on a branch during a windy day it never loses itself to fear. Why? It knows that when resting on one branch that breaks it can move to many other branches available. It also understands it has the skill of flying which gives it confidence to withstand a storm. if we carry our emotions with confidence we will give ourselves a leg up on others. To engage in confidence beware of leaches named anger, resentment, and nervousness. These leaches suck out our confidence. If we are managing our confidence we understand what takes away our confidence and how to avoid it as well as where the line between confidence and cockiness lies. It is easy to see how EQ and confidence hurts us, but the positives come in many forms. With confidence we have a voice, maybe literally, to chase after our goals and dreams. In all areas of our life (work, life, personal) we now don’t hold back we charge forward. Someone on their heels waits to be pushed over, the person with EQ and confidence falls forward. I think it is also important to note that there is no perfect person. Everyone. Let me say that again…EVERYONE has confidence issues in some form on some scale. The fears we all have are what hold us back and is a ready excuse we love to use, however ultimately there is no excuse. Take a optimist persona where we develop belief in ourselves, others, and in situations. Assertiveness was mentioned here as I think confidence and assertiveness are linked. Grow in this area by taking steps to grow (growth and development leads to confidence in skills and knowledge), using others to push us when we struggle to push ourselves, and my favorite method…fake it till you make it.

    “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”   - Helen Keller

  5. Communication

    Communication is a essential skill all on it’s own. EQ does influence our ability to communicate effectively. People with low EQ will not communicate well and therefore place a barrier between them and others. EQ allows communication to be done with clear, proper language that uses the right tone and timing to make the message come across in the best way possibly. Communication with EQ uses one of the EQ components of awareness. We all like to communicate (verbally or through social media/text/Snapchat, etc…), but are we truly aware of what we are communicating. In every form of communication we make there is underlying emotions that seep into the message. This is natural and a human thing. Our EQ can allow us to take a step back and see what we are communicating and how it is being done. I think to help our EQ we must work to get communication back to the basics. What is basics you ask? One on one conversations. We have drifted away and now it is extremely hard to be skilled in this area. Do not mistake EQ for eliminating emotions. Communication needs the right emotions and what better way to do this than in verbal conversations. That is true and real. Text and emails can do a great job, but there is only a limited amount of emotion that can come across. These emotions can be hard to manage, so therefore as high EQ people have look to develop filters that help us navigate the waters. this comes into play when we expand the rivers and streams with nonverbal communication and body language. One final note for this EQ factor that needs to be communicated is this as well. Mess ups happen. We will screw up with our communication. We will over indulge in emotion, say things in the wrong tone at the wrong time. We will not be perfect. Understand it is ok to fail. We apologize and move on.

  6. Stress Tolerance

    Stress tolerance is a form of managing our EQ. Stress is like the air we breathe…it is everywhere. More and more young people are having stress induced issues than ever before. Our workforce is reporting that their jobs and work life has increased amounts of stress. Once stressed (we have all been there) it bleeds into our whole life and like a virus can take over us and paralyze our actions and good emotions. How we practice coping skills can be treatment for the stress in our lives. There are many ways that every person can discover. Seek guidance, do some research to manage the stressors in life. If possible eliminate them, but at the end of the day we need to give ourselves a place of recovery.

  7. Decision Making

    If there is one thing we can agree on is that our emotions impact our decisions Those who can as fictional Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel would say “Clear the mechanism”. when making decisions will make more sound judgements. High EQ people can filter their emotions with the facts and make the decisions in crunch time that matter. Low EQ people struggle with thinking things through (on the fly or over time) and making the right call. Even under duress those with EQ can filter the craziness and make decisions. Triggers in our lives often lead us to making certain decisions based of feelings and emotions. I think it is important to know that there is a a balance between making decisions with our head and heart. Sometimes that balance can come from a friend who is the opposite of us. For instance if we make heart based decisions we will need input form someone with a logical perspective. Our EQ determines whether we play it safe or go for it. We make thousands of minuscule decisions on a daily basis. These do include the non-decisions. Not making a choice is still making a choice and many people don’t want to understand that. Stephanie Cote of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management stated “People who are emotionally intelligent don’t remove all emotions from their decision making . They remove emotions that have nothing to do with the decision.”. So use our EQ to make good sound decisions based on what we can control (because not everything is under our control).

  8. Flexibility

    High EQ people have the inherit ability to go with the flow. Rigidness and lack of adaptability (see Blockbuster) will sooner or later leave us behind the curve of advancement. Flexibility is not only a great physical trait to have to reduce injuries, but a life skill as well. this year in 2019 Linkedin ranked Flexibility as one of the top five soft skills people should have and work on. When faced with the unexpected changes that life brings our EQ can help get us through. If we want to rise in rank in our industry we must flex to the needs and skills required. Staying ahead also relates to flexibility as in anything in life there is high competition. If we want to make it we must be ahead of the game. Flexibility allows us to take on a growth mindset and have an ear out for what we can do to improve. Prehab is something done by athletes to build of their bodies to avoid future injury before it happens. In life we are flexible we can do some prehab as well. Reframing is also a key work here as we can all be guilty of being set in our ways. There are some things in life where we should not bow down to, but if we reframe our mindset then we improve which is what we want. Well evaluated change can be progressive.

  9. Listening

    Communication was already mentioned and if EQ people should be excellent communicators then in turn they should also be great listeners. When it comes to emotions and listening we must ask ourselves if we are truly able to intently listen and refrain from speaking with anger, resentment, ignorance, and overall attitude. EQ listening means we listen without letting our emotions cloud what we hear or read. As a listener it is essential to listen to the words and details which lead to the how and why. However something EQ people listen for is the emotion behind the message. Easier to listen and hear at times than others, but EQ take into account what others emotions are being used. It is important to note that we can all learn something from everyone we we meet and come across. By taking one thing from someone it can make us better. Listening can reward us with growth, knowledge, and other powerful factors. That means there is zero agenda when we listen and we find ways to ask questions to probe for more information to get us better.

Putting Things Into Practice

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation - Method of reducing stress and anxiety in our head and built up in our body. Practicing mindfulness is a trait of high EQ and successful people. Find many videos to follow of all lengths on Youtube.

  • Minefield - Use with teams and groups. One person is blindfolded and led by others using communication to navigate a course or walking area.

  • Affirmations - Giving ourselves and other affirmations will allow us to see how we actually are and help us see the positive rather than the negatives which lead to feeling emotionally empowered.

  • Apps and Games - There are many apps and games we can use on our phones to relax us, recharge us, and refocus our emotions at many times of the day. Try and find what works. Right now a big app used by many is the Calm app. Also videos of ASMR are known to be effective as well.

  • Listening Games - Go listen to what others are saying and take notes to lock in the information. Listen to riddles and catch phrases to hone in our listening skills to hear the full message and train our ears and brain to do so.

  • Empathize - Practice this high EQ skill by being willing to go see someone and taking the time to lear about them, where they are at, and what life is. If we practicing walking in others shoes we can take on a focus of growing our emotions.

More Content!

Take a look at the other forms of content created to assist you in growing your EQ. Below you will find a slide presentation that covers some of the above things and you can also watch videos and listen to podcasts that unpack vast amounts of information.

Steven Hovermale