In our last blog post we discussed improving self-awareness through mindfulness. Not only does being mindful help with improving efficiency of the task at hand, it allows deeper insight into one’s current emotional and mental state leading to more focused, rational decision making.

Expanding on developing self-awareness further – and contributing to the strength of our inner resources and confidence – is emotional intelligence. This is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence (also known as EQ, EI and intelligence of the heart) know what they are feeling, what their emotions mean and how these emotions impact other people.

The importance of EQ extends across all areas of our lives. As inherently social beings, being able to function in a relationship-driven environment is essentially what makes us human. As Theodore Roosevelt said: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

The work of psychologist Daniel Goleman in this area has been taught in schools, universities and businesses for over 30 years because the personal and professional benefits of improved EQ are multiple:

Better decision-making skills through understanding of self and others (Chpt 2 Set Goals & Take Action)
• Helps recognise your own blind spots to take steps to improve (Chpt 9 Ask for Help)
• Develops behaviours and skills that lead to improved productivity (Chpt 4 – Work Hard (strategically)
• A solid understanding of self means more authentic behaviours and relationships that make you more credible, easy to connect with and trusted (Chpt 8 Be Authentic)
• Allows effective management of conflict and assists with conflict resolution (Chpt 10 Face Fear)
• You will develop others more effectively – and empowering others is a critical leadership skill (Chpt 5 Build Relationships)

Goleman identified five key components or pillars of emotional intelligence and these are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Breaking it down into these categorisations can help us build and improve on our EQ capacities in the following practical ways:

• Work on overcoming negative emotions by considering other perspectives as well as your own
• Avoid feelings of rejection by providing yourself with multiple options in important situations so that if one doesn’t pan out, there are others to consider
• Manage stress with physical responses – go for a walk, splash cold water on your face, try an aerobic workout that makes you feel energised
• Work on being assertive and saying what you feel. Clarify what is acceptable to you and communicate it without accusation or judgement. A suggested approach is the XYZ technique: “I feel X when you do Y in situation Z” which reduces the need for others to feel defensive about what you are saying
• Be proactive, not reactive. Difficult people will always pop up – proactively manage a challenging situation by putting yourself in their shoes and completing this sentence as them: “It must not be easy…” (for example: My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations put on your performance.)
• Develop your resilience. Choose how to respond to adverse situations by asking constructive questions that help you learn and prioritise next actions
• Express emotions. This one can be tough, but the ability to express how you’re feeling, be aware of your body language and what it is revealing and to be able to offer up behaviours that engage others and create a bond is crucial to developing strong relationships.

Emotional Intelligence is a skill worth spending time on to improve your own emotional wellbeing, your leadership skills and, ultimately your Core Confidence.