The concept of Emotional Intelligence is very well chosen from a marketing perspective, (I guess Lucía knows more about this than I do). Even without being completely sure what it means it’s true that it blends two concepts that at first might seem to be conflicting, intelligence and emotions, rationality and subjectivity.
Although in the last century in psychology many authors referred to it as “Social Intelligence”, (there were also in the 80s a couple of authors who defined it), this type of intelligence took off thanks to the American journalist-psychologist Daniel Goleman; it is curious how much interest the topic generated, (I think he still can’t believe it). One of the conclusions of his research that has had the highest impact and which has generated most thoughts on how important it is to have it or not, is that the success of people in their careers is not only determined by their intelligence quotient, but by their emotional intelligence.
According to this author, Emotional Intelligence is “the human ability to recognise feelings in oneself and in others, and the capacity to manage them adequately”. Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the ability to understand emotions and balance them, so they can be used to guide our behaviour and our thoughts, in order to obtain better results. Being emotionally intelligent provides a series of advantages in such diverse areas as professional performance or private relationships.
According to Goleman the elements of EI are:
- Self-Awareness: Refers to the knowledge we have of ourselves and our emotions; what are our strengths and weaknesses. This introspection reflects personal maturity.
- Emotional Self-Control: Basically refers to not getting carried away by feelings experienced at the moment; the irrational impulse that makes us feel furious, angry, at a given moment and which stops us from doing or saying the first thing that crosses our mind.
- Self-Motivation: Direct and manage our emotion towards an objective that also helps guide our motivation and focus our attention on achievable goals we set ourselves. Self-motivation is something related to ourselves, it is being able to give ourselves the reasons, drive, enthusiasm and interest to achieve whatever we goals we set. Optimism and being positive help us face challenges and we will probably transmit this attitude to those around us (this is another very interesting point, how attitudes are contagious, some day I will also write about that).
- Empathy: This a social skill with which we try to emotionally understand those around us, putting ourselves in their place, understanding how they feel, what they think and what they want, whether we agree with them or not. This last part is very important, being empathetic means understanding others, but that feeling does not mean you agree with what they say. And although it seems obvious, we must not confuse empathy with sympathy, they only have the word ending “pathy” in common; other than that, they are two completely different concepts.
- Social Skills: Good relationships with the people around us are some of the most important things in our lives and our work. In the end, there will always be people we like more than others, with whom we have more things in common, good rapport… but if you are someone with social skills, you will also be able to deal with people with whom you have nothing in common. Within this cluster I would like to highlight the importance of communication in general and active listening in particular. Communication is the ultimate skill in life, especially because we humans are social beings, and we need to be able to understand each other; going back to my dear Primary Education, when we were in language class we were told about the importance of the issuer, the receiver, the message and the channel, which we all remember. Having communication skills means being able to explain what you think, transmit it using words and non-verbal communication. The second phase is that the person receiving the message, the receiver, must understand the message. There are formulas to check whether that objective has been actually achieved. One of them is by conducting Active Listening, which means to listen to and understand the communication from the speaker’s viewpoint. Listening is not hearing, listening is understanding, making sense of words. And even more, active listening is not only the ability to listen to people, but also to the feelings, ideas or thoughts underneath what they are saying, which also requires significant empathy.
Why am I telling you all this? I think our society and our educational system do not foster this key skill in our professional and personal lives. They help us use our memory and insignificant learning but they do not encourage us to be independent in our decision-making. We educate our children without teaching them the importance of being emotionally intelligent, how to manage our tolerance to frustration, how to tell others what we think assertively, knowing ourselves, managing our most basic emotions, putting ourselves in the place of others to look at the world from a different standpoint…The result of this situation is that we are surrounded by highly technically competent people in their areas of expertise, but with gaps in their Emotional Intelligence and the whole set of skills it is made up of, and this is quite a serious problem.
Working in consulting means having relationships with many different people: with the co-workers in your Unit, with members of other Expert Units, clients, providers, etc. This means that your Emotional Intelligence must come into play and it will mark and define your career.
At Decide we are aware that in the complicated world of skills, there is always work to be done… but it is a challenge we are working on…being aware of it, is our first step.