Editors Note: I’d like to welcome and introduce Wendy Bailey for today’s guest post.

Experts in the fields of psychology and business management agree; old fashioned I.Q. tests are not clear indicators of human potential. While adeptness with math, logic, and language may be useful measures of one narrow field of expertise, the implications of emotional intelligence cannot be ignored. Developing relationships, assessing the potential of new clients, and even determining how best to employ the assets of employees depend upon great leadership and emotional intelligence.

The impact of this type of intelligence reaches far beyond professional life, affecting personal relationships, academic success, even family dynamics and parenting. Yet, outside of psychology programs, there are very few classes dedicated to developing one’s emotional skills.

So how can you take advantage of cultivating a high E.Q.? Follow a few simple steps and watch your expertise grow exponentially.

What Is Emotional Intelligence

Various contributors to the field of emotional intelligence studies offer their own definitions of emotional intelligence. Common to all of them is the idea that emotional intelligence begins with awareness of emotions within oneself and others which can then be developed into the ability to use that awareness to strategize and control emotional dynamics within the self, with others, and amongst groups. While this may initially strike one as being a recipe for manipulation, it is in fact a means of learning to appreciate and appropriately utilize the widely varied talents and temperaments of the many people within an organization or community.

For example, an emotionally intelligent leader recognizes the value of an extrovert who is energized by the attention of a large group, and may assign them to roles which require strong community organization and motivation. Conversely, the same leader will recognize a person who is more comfortable in one-to-one interactions, but who may be more skilled at analytical tasks and private consultations with colleagues. Perhaps the easiest model for emotional intelligence development comes from Daniel Goleman. His four point model highlights:

Self Awareness- An awareness of one’s own emotions which is strong enough to allow for emotion-guided decision making.

Self-Management- Managing the self involves the ability to regulate the intensity and effect of emotions, allowing for impulse control and adaptation.

Social Awareness- This is the ability to perceive the emotional states of others, whether as individuals or within a group. Often, this is referred to as empathy. Social awareness also includes the capability to understand social networks, or the way people relate to one another within a larger community.

Relationship Management- This is a more advanced form of emotional intelligence which manifests as leadership abilities such as inspiring groups to action, influencing popular opinion, and mentoring growth in others while simultaneously managing conflict.

How To Build Your Emotional Intelligence

1). Look To Your Self.

Emotional intelligence begins with awareness of your own emotional state, and the amount of influence you allow that to have over your decisions. Assessing whether you have a healthy connection to your internal reality, or whether you repress or deny stronger emotions is an important first step. From awareness of your emotions, you will gain the ability to trust your “gut” and dedicate yourself more firmly to your chosen path

2). Know Yourself, But Control Yourself

Emotions are wonderful tools for assessing your Self, your surroundings and the people in your life. However, it is important that their influence be one of balance. Are you tuning into your emotions or are you allowing them to run your life? Impulsivity and emotional volatility may be signs that you would benefit from learning how to diffuse highly charged feelings and regain control.

3). Empathy, Empathy, Empathy.

Perceiving emotions in others and being able to internalize them is a crucial component of emotional intelligence. Being able to do so allows you to relate more smoothly to those around you, and forge stronger personal and professional relationships. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is the surest way to start flexing your empathy muscles. As your ability to empathize with people grows, you will notice a deeper level of trust, responsiveness, and satisfaction with all of the people with whom you interact.

What About You?

Do you see the effects of emotions in the workplace?  Any crazy stories?  Or is emotional intelligence not a big deal?

Image courtesy of zlady