Written by: Taylor Wilson, Senior Account Executive
What is Emotional Intelligence?
In Part I, we covered what emotional intelligence (also referred to as emotional quotient or EQ) is, and why it’s a critical component of successful relationships both in and out of the office. Now, follow along with us as we explore its four pillars, and discuss tactics within each that you can utilize to increase your overall emotional intelligence. While these tactics appear simple, and you may have even heard a few of them before, they’re proven EQ boosters.
4 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence
Accurately recognize and identify emotions as they occur, and understand your general response tendencies to varying individuals and situations.
Know who and what pushes your buttons. This needs to be specific – identify the exact individuals, situations, and environments that trigger specific emotions or “rub you the wrong way,” and develop a list. This will allow you to determine the source of your emotion triggers, and ultimately your reactions.
Track your tendencies. Since emotions are intangible, writing them down can help you better understand them, identify patterns, and track progress. When you feel strongly about something, write a detailed explanation of the situation, how it made you feel, and additional notes on why you believe you felt that way. Consider revisiting these entries for more clarity once you have settled down from the situation, and try to better understand it.
Utilize your emotional awareness to determine the best behavioral response.
Make your goals public. Self-management is fueled by motivation. By making your goals public, you’re setting the expectations others have of you. Sharing your emotional intelligence goals with the others will hold you accountable for meeting them.
Buy yourself some time. Maybe you need a few seconds, minutes, or even a day to process your feelings before determining an appropriate reaction. This is where physical management comes in. Consider counting to ten, taking a few deep breaths, or even sleeping on it. Emotions are chemical and involuntary in nature, and it can be tough to digest and react appropriately in the moment. Give yourself time to process and develop positive and productive responses and behaviors.
Take control of your “self-talk.” The average person has around 50,000 thoughts per day, each of which can positively or negatively influence emotions and behavior. Improve your self-management by identifying negative “self-talk” (“I always,” “I never,” “I’m an idiot,” “It’s their fault,” etc.) and replacing it with more accurate and positive statements (“Sometimes I make that mistake,” “I accept responsibility,” etc.). Changing the internal narrative can positively affect your mindset and subsequent responses.
Recognize and consider the emotions and perspectives of others.
Listen and observe. Practice consciously focusing on the speaker and the tone, speed, and volume of their voice, as well as their nonverbal communication. How does this manifest in the workplace? A great example is worrying less about taking word-for-word notes during business meetings, and rather listening for questions, needs, and action items. This will allow you the mental space to focus on important nonverbal cues such as their attentiveness towards you, reactions to specific situations and environmental stimuli, and body language.
Step into their shoes. Empathy is a big component of emotional intelligence. Remember that different individuals have different backgrounds and motivations. Put yourself in their situation, and try to see the situation from their perspective.
Utilize your tools and resources. Seek supplemental resources to learn more about your teammates. How do they like to be communicated with? How do they typically receive tough feedback? Personality assessments can provide a baseline for understanding the tendencies of others. At Crawford, we utilize the DISC Assessment to identify, compare, and contrast our personal work styles versus our coworkers.
Utilize your awareness of both yours and others’ emotions to guide your interactions.
Seek and provide feedback. At each level, improving your emotional intelligence requires vulnerability. Emotional awareness and understanding is limited by perspective. Therefore, getting feedback from others is a valuable asset. Be open to feedback from peers about your tendencies and responses, and tactfully provide feedback to others when necessary. Appreciate the feedback you get and be mindful of your response. Request examples to truly understand what is being perceived, and thank the person for their feedback.
Build trust. Start the trust-building process by being the first person to “be open” and share something about yourself. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Greaves, two written experts on emotional intelligence, the steps to building trust include, “…open communication; willingness to share; consistency in words, actions, and behavior over time; and reliability in following through on the agreements of the relationship.”
Further Your Emotional Intelligence Learning
Looking to learn more about emotional intelligence? We recommend reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Dr. Travis Bradberry & Dr. Jean Greaves, one of Crawford’s favorite resources on emotional intelligence.