Emotional Intelligence isn’t…
Berta rolled her eyes at the thought of another company training – this time about Emotional Intelligence. Things were difficult right now and she thought it was a ridiculous idea that they should all be taught to put on a happy face and make things look better from the outside, when in fact most people were really stressed and even unhappy.
Emotional Intelligence appears to be misinterpreted by many. Let’s make some distinctions.
Emotional Intelligence is not:
- Pretending to be something you are not
- Putting on a happy face and having to be positive all the time
- Sharing with everyone how you are feeling
- Having to be brutally honest with others how you feel about them or their ideas
Actually, Berta would probably appreciate the real idea behind Emotional Intelligence, because it is all about being honest – starting with oneself. Emotional Intelligence includes:
- Recognising how you really feel
- Making choices about how to respond when you are feeling emotional. You can feel awful and still choose to put on a happy face if that’s what you want to do.
- Understanding how others feel and recognising that their emotions belong to them.
- Having compassion for others and how they feel and you don’t have to fix it.
- Understanding your impact by noticing how your behaviour might have provoked unpleasant reactions in others
Emotional Intelligence is essential for leaders
Without emotional intelligence, people are less aware of how they feel and what is driving their behaviours; they will be at the mercy of those feelings and respond unconsciously. If a leader reacts to a piece of news with a short temper, anger or blame, it will have a negative impact on the other people in the room. Then psychological safety goes out the window and a culture of fear begins: employees become afraid of getting things wrong or stoking anger in the leader. They don’t speak up when they need to.
Instead, emotional intelligence might look like any of these stories:
Frank was aware that he was feeling a bit off. He wasn’t even sure where his feelings were coming from.
So instead of powering through and trying to be creative with his work, he chose to go out for a vigorous walk to clear his head. After some minutes of walking, he finally realised what was bugging him. He was still carrying frustration from an unresolved argument he’d had with his brother. Once he got clear about that, he wrote himself a message describing his thoughts and feelings, so that he could come back to them later. Then it was easier for him to set that issue aside and he could get back to work with his usual upbeat nature.
Malia realised she was tired, stressed and angry. She hadn’t liked how a customer meeting had gone earlier in the day and she was deeply disappointed and frustrated with the outcome. She didn’t normally react so strongly to such events and she was having an exceptionally hard time shaking her response.
She had an upcoming feedback conversation that afternoon, and she knew that she didn’t have the energy or brain power to be as sympathetic as she wanted to be. She knew she wasn’t going to have the right impact, so she rescheduled that session to a time when she would be more fresh and ready to talk.
Ricardo needed to give one of his direct reports some feedback. He knew that Samantha was not going to like what he had to say.
He was somewhat aware of what was most important to her and how this was going to affect her. Because of that he chose to schedule the meeting on a Thursday morning. That way, she would have time to absorb the information and at least one night to sleep on it before the weekend. She would have colleagues who could support her, and he would talk to her again the next day to create a plan for forward movement starting next week
Everyone benefits when leaders invest in their emotional intelligence.Headspace for Creativity“I’m so angry I want to scream!”