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Emotional Intelligence

The modern organisation is characterized by open communication, teamwork, and mutual respect among employees and supervisors. Therefore, managers who possess emotional intelligence can better understand and motivate the people they supervise.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others and the ability to use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships (Bradberry, 2020). Those who have a high degree of emotional intelligence are in tune with their emotions and other people’s emotions with whom they come in contact.

Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ explains the five main domains of emotional intelligence coined by Peter Salovey: knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships. Each of these domains is important in our personal lives and workplaces.

  1. Knowing one’s emotions (self-awareness)
    Self-awareness is the ability to recognise a sensation or emotion the moment it occurs. It is not always easy to monitor one’s feelings at the moment, here and now, as it requires mindfulness. It is critical for psychological insight, self-understanding, and self-acceptance. If we are unable to notice our true feelings, it is harder to understand our emotions. People who are certain about their feelings are more adept at managing their lives and having a more certain sense of their true feelings about various decisions: what job to take, what relationships to invest their time in, what activities to undertake, and what goals to set.
  2. Managing emotions (self-regulation)
    Once we’ve managed self-awareness, we may progress to managing the emotions we become aware of, handling them, so they are appropriate. This means soothing ourselves and controlling anxiety, depression or anger. People who fail in this ability are more prone to feelings of distress. Mastering our emotions’ management allows us to recover quicker from setbacks, upsets, and failures and to move on towards our goals.
  3. Motivating oneself (motivation)
    When we channel our emotions as a means to a goal, we are better able to pay attention, motivate ourselves, practice discipline and devote time for creative endeavours. Emotional self-control is displayed through delaying gratification and handling impulsiveness, important key ingredients in any accomplishment. Moreover, the ability to enter into a “flow” state (coined by Mihaly Czikszentmihaly), or devoting ourselves fully to the task at hand, on the road to mastery, requires steady attention internal motivation.
  4. Recognising emotions in others (empathy)
    Our ability to empathize with others, a vital people skill, comes back to our self-awareness. Empathy is our ability to feel what others feel, understand what others have to say, and get attuned to subtle social signals about what others need or want. This is a must-have ability for everyone in the caring professions, in education, sales or management.
  5. Handling relationships (social skill)
    Once we have self-awareness, and once we can recognise the emotions of others, we can proceed to the next skill – managing others’ emotions. This is the task of leadership, popularity, and interpersonal effectiveness. It does not come down to manipulating others, guiding them, and helping them be more self-aware, more adept at emotional self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and handling relationships.

Some people are better in some of these domains than others. One employee can be particularly good at practising patience and perseverance but could find it difficult to comfort a colleague in a difficult personal situation. Luckily our brains are capable of constantly learning new information and skills. Emotional skills can be learned and improved, and practising mindfulness and deliberation through meditation and reflection, is the first step of the journey.

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