Hearing the term, emotional intelligence, may make you sigh out of impatience, but understand that corporate America's landscape is changing, especially with regards to preventing workplace violence, school shootings and public massacres.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is defined as having the cognitive insight to process both your own emotions and the emotions of others.
Who are the individuals with high emotional intelligence?
In a nutshell, individuals who learned socially acceptable behaviors, know the difference between right and wrong, respect authority and have learned to control their behavior and impulses. These types of people will fit well within the organizational culture and the norms of society. Training in crisis management and de-escalation are skills are invaluable when dealing with hostile or difficult individuals. This skill requires diplomacy and practical application, something that cannot be learned in a book.
Who benefits from being taught social and emotional skills?
Everyone does, yet the first place to begin is with training and coaching of c-level executives and management. Role models encourage positive skills and teach others how to get along and collaborate with their peers. Role models who depict calm and diplomatic emotional states in intense or difficult situations, will influence employees’ behavior and those individuals will most likely, remain calm and diplomatic. Conversely, if an employee becomes frantic and hysterical in a crisis, that can easily snowball into an elevated and uncontrollable situation.
How can individuals understand their perceptions, and the perceptions of others? The following are excerpts from Daniel Goleman's book, "Emotional Intelligence":
1. Self-awareness: Having a well thought out plan to help diffuse anger and anxiety will be immensely helpful when an intentioned (or not) comment triggers an emotional response. If an individual becomes immobilized by worry, disappointment or worse yet, is caught off guard by anger, it can be destructive, to both the individual and to others. When this same individual reflects on their strengths and is honest about their weaknesses, a stronger sense of self-worth emerges.
2. Self-regulation: Keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check. The skills learned in the self-awareness phase are the keys to knowing how emotions affect you and others. Staying calm requires regulating breathing, which in turn deflects the body’s need to increase the fight or flight chemicals in the body. Examples of individuals who might be in a constant state of stress can include an acquisitions/merger executive and a call center representative. Both individuals need to find alternative calming methods when dealing with difficult people, complex problems and technical issues. Bringing your body back to a state of calm significantly reduces stress, anxiety and worry; in turn having a magnificent affect on the body.
3. Compassion and empathy: Be aware of what is going on around you; sensing, understanding and responding genuinely to others strengthens not just your social skills, but your professional and personal relationships. Some people have the gift of being astutely sensitive (or aware) of the minute changes in behavior. This is useful in preventing or diminishing challenging behavior or difficult people. Therapists or people in the helping professions may have this skill to varying degrees.
4. Leadership skills: Being an effective leader while managing workplace conflicts or instigating change can be a tough skill to acquire. Do you have the capacity to inspire and influence others? How do you motivate others so they feel valued in their positions? Mentoring and coaching nurtures employees emotionally, helping them to feel accepted and secure in their roles.