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Business Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

It is a difficult and hard road we have traveled in 2020. Our psyche has been hit hard, our world turned upside down, and our jobs have changed possibly for good. 2020 has been a year we would like to forget, but never will. Today, we need to maintain our Emotional Intelligence, or EI more than ever.

Daniel Goleman is an author of the best-selling Emotional Intelligence, a psychologist, and former science journalist for the New York Times. His life's work has been dedicated to the research and understanding of Emotional Intelligence in organizations. But what is EI and how does it fit into the business world? Don't we leave our emotions at the office door? We don't show emotion in business? So why is Emotional Intelligence so important?

In Goleman’s model, EI is identified in four distinct areas:

  • self-awareness—how we label, recognize, and understand our own emotions

  • self-management—how we apply self-awareness in order to self-regulate and respond without being impulsive or destructive

  • social awareness—how we understand the feelings and actions of others in the context of their environment

  • relationship management—how we apply social awareness in order to interact with others in a more positive and constructive way.

Self-awareness, or how we recognize our own feelings comes down to a truthful introspection and clear reflection of our true internal feelings. Before we can move forward with our daily tasks, we need to be aware of where we are, mentally and emotionally. Ever log into a Zoom meeting and already have a bad attitude? I will bet you were mildly annoyed by the casual open chat about "my dog this morning", or the "zoom-bombing kid" behind the meeting presenter.

Self-management is now in order; how we react to these events will determine the outcome of our response and its effect. Let me digress for a moment, my wife works in a medical group at a large company here on the East Coast. Recently she received a voicemail message after returning from the ladies room. The voicemail, edited for a G-rating... stated. "Why the "heck" didn't you answer the phone?? click...".

Self-management dictates our next move. A typical response would be to get upset at the voicemail and respond inappropriately to the next poor soul that crosses our path. By having an awareness of our present emotional state, will dictate our next response. This is why self-awareness is important to understand, this awareness provides the ability to regulate or manage our emotions. We need to take responsibility for OUR response, not the trigger or stimulus that just occurred. THIS is how we regulate our next non-emotional response. In order to self-regulate and respond without begin impulsive, we must be aware of our own state and not allow the voicemail to "win" and take us over.

The gentleman who left the voicemail caused a difficult crossroad to consider. Why did they leave such a nasty voicemail? We may never know, he may never call back or may cool down on their own. The model's next step is called Social Awareness, or how we understand the actions of the feelings that was just encountered. There are many schools of thought as to how much we can "understand" other's feelings. That is not the point here, we were not there, not in the same situation they were faced with, didn't get up on the wrong side of the bed, if they did... Social Awareness instructs us to "be aware" of the situation they may be in, to be aware of the environment that may have caused their unpleasant outburst. This awareness comes from an understanding we must determine from afar. Again, we are not there and not in their shoes, but we should be able to empathize with the caller.

Her caller didn't leave a number, Caller ID wasn't able to provide a number to return a call. However, she was sure he would call back. THEN she could tell him off... no way. My wife understands the company folks traveling in this pandemic world and the craziness. Her Social Awareness was already in play, she understands the situation and empathizes with the caller.

Relationship Management, this is the ultimate holy grail of EI. It will be up to our awareness, self-management and social awareness to set the course for this next relationship. Relationship Management relies on these previous three steps and how we act upon them. It is through our personal abilities to be empathetic, with a positive outlook, and with self-control that we can win the EI battle. These skills take practice and we will not win every encounter. We will stumble and fall, scrape our knees and curse the next person we see. However, it is in these times that have an opportunity to reflect and learn. We may need to hand out a few "I'm Sorry's" along the way, but we will learn and grow.

Goleman's model of Self-awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management will provide a framework to build our crucial abilities to be empathetic, and to manage conflict and create teamwork. We need to be able to "Learn, Apply, and Reflect" when we encounter each moment that creates a crossroad in emotions. The road is difficult, but it can be managed carefully.

Oh and my wife's response?? I will let you figure that path out for yourself...

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