What is Emotional Intelligence?
A simple working definition of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is… ‘The ability to recognise and manage your emotions effectively, and also recognise and manage the emotions of other people positively.’ It involves being able to identify, use, understand, and manage all types of emotions in an effective and positive way. And there are many elements / components to it, including: self-awareness, self-regulation / emotional-balance, motivation / positive-outlook, empathy, adaptibility, and other social skills. They are skills that you can learn, practice, and master like all other skills; just commit to it, and allow yourself to learn.
Why does Emotional Intelligence matter so much?
It is that which characterises and distinguishes top-performers; it sets them apart! They are able to work calmly even under pressure, and stay positive in difficult situations; while they take the necessary steps to effectively solve problems and deliver pleasing results. Indeed, the skills that embody emotional intelligence are key to the jobs of the future, and reliably predict work place success far better than cognitive skills (as represented by IQ and other measures of intelligence). So people who are emotionally intelligent are likely to get hired (when looking for a job position) or otherwise get promoted faster (when already on a job), and if they are running their own businesses, they are likely to succeed exceptionally, and more easily. There seem to be a global consensus that IQ contributes to just about 20 percent of the factors that determine success in life, and that EQ (Emotional Quotient; another way of representing EI) accounts for the other 80 percent. In hundreds of studies, IQ has been found to be a very small factor when predicting success.
It will especially enable you to handle the essential tough conversations that necessarily come up in various relationships; difficult conversations are the kind that have the potential to stir up all sorts of emotions; e.g. the reaction of an angry partner or customer, etc.). An emotionally intelligent person is able to take control of the conflicts that arise from time to time and stear them in a meaningfully way to achieve pleasing results.
When two or more people come together to accomplish any objective (e.g. marriage, project, etc.) a team situation arises; though that team may need to go through some 4 stages of progression (i. Forming, ii. Storming, iii. Norming, and iv. Performing) to become most effective. When members in a team are of high levels of emotional intelligence, they work together beautifully (there is better, effective and efficient teamwork) and they achieve exceptional results. This is because each member is able to quickly build trust in (and with) the other(s) in the team. They value one another’s inputs; especially when a member makes any suggestion, they don’t find it difficult to respond in a positive, honest and productive way. So each member is able to express his / her opinion (both verbally and non-verbally) without fear of intimidation / rejection.
You realise that Emotional intelligence is an essential leadership skill, and that persons, companies and organisations that are yet to pay attention to this all important skill are doing themselves a great deal of harm; especially when you consider that…
It is said that the only thing that is constant in life is ‘change.’ However it is not easy to embrace change / innovation (especially abrupt ones) except with emotional intelligence. Typically people (by default) respond to change in the work / business environment with negative attitudes; however, a person with emotional intelligence can be positive and even inspire colleagues to be equally positive in the face of any such change. People with high emotional intelligence can turn seemingly negative situations into an opportunity; consequently they progress more easily in business and in life.
There are so many case studies to illustrate / buttress the foregoing reasons why you should be concerned about emotional intelligence; I will cite one or two...
A renowned psychologist by name Daniel Goleman looked at more than a hundred competence models from corporations, NGOs and governments and found out that the common set of abilities that identified people who were outstanding had nothing to do with cognitive abilities, but rather emotional intelligence. He recalls an earlier study that Harvard University (one of the best in the world) conducted when he was a graduate student there. The study (conducted across the business school, medical school, law school, and education school) was to find out how well the graduate school entry exams predicted success in the respective careers. The correlation was zero! Contrast that with the following…
The board of trustees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; one of the best universities in the world) once commissioned a study to see who the biggest donors among their alumni were and what characterised them when they were students times back. And the results were shocking! It wasn’t the people who were absolutely brilliant all the way through school who ended up being so successful that they could give MIT hundreds of millions of dollars; rather, it was people who were good enough to get into MIT and good enough to complete successfully but then who had other extra-curricula abilities prior to entering MIT. For example, they had been team captains, club presidents, started their own businesses on the side while schooling, and so on. Those were the people who became the founders and heads of companies that grew to be big enough that they could afford to give the biggest donations to their alma mater.
One of the incidences that hit the headlines in week thirty-seven of 2019 was that, Jarrid Wilson (Pastor, and author of “Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World“) had committed suicide. And that’s sad but not uncommon; everyday people commit suicide, and that cuts across all classes of people. Also, many people contemplate suicide but don’t get to execute it; some also attempt suicide but somehow do not get to complete it. (And as you might have figured out by now, this includes Christians and persons of other religions.) It’s that serious! The point is that life can be very tough!
Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways of dealing with emotions, and preventing undue stress. For instance, all negative emotions can be classified under 10 core emotions, and there are specific messages they provide, and specific ways of responding. This bothers on Emotional Intelligence.
For several years, Matthew Warren (the son of a world renowned evangelical pastor) faced mental health challenges, and eventually committed suicide in 2013. Following his son’s demise, Rick Warren (who’s also author of an international bestseller:The Purpose Driven Life) had this to say: “In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”
Indeed, life in this complicatedly complex world is a tough one – ordinarily; it means there will be many situations that will arouse various forms of emotions, which if not well managed can affect you negatively; your health and your wealth; life can hit you quite unexpectedly. So it’s better to prepare ahead (in a sense, emotional insurance) so that, even though you should not wish for it, in case the unexpected happens, you will not be caught on the wrong foot.