How to develop your emotional intelligence

By Dawn Kaiser, PHR
The Village Business Institute

With the holiday of love just yesterday (Editor’s note: This article was originally posted February 2011), I started thinking about how we can bring compassion and humanity to work and the term “emotional intelligence” popped into my head. Emotional Intelligence (EI) has become a buzzword lately for organizations, although in reality it has been around since the 1970s and 80s. Emotional intelligence refers to “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990.)

Daniel Goleman’s research in the 1990’s actually went one step further in the area of EI and made the distinction between emotional intelligence and emotional competence. Goleman argued that “by itself EI was not a strong predictor of job performance; rather it provides the bedrock for competencies that are.” The emotional competencies Goleman defined are the personal and social skills that lead to superior and successful job performance at work.

Listed below are the five overarching domains and their individual competencies.

1. Self-Awareness: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence
2. Self-Regulation: self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovativeness
3. Self-Motivation: achievement driven, commitment, initiative, and optimism
4. Social Awareness: empathy, service orientation, developing others, leveraging diversity, and political awareness
5. Social Management: influence, communication, leadership, change catalyst, conflict management, building bonds, collaboration & cooperation and team capabilities

Our emotions play a huge role in shaping our professional lives and organizations. As individuals, we can learn to understand this, and figure out how we can integrate it into our work and our lives.

Here are some actions you can take to develop your emotional intelligence and become even more successful in all aspects of your life.

1. Begin with Self-Awareness. Be aware of your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses by taking the time to reflect and discover what you can learn from your own experiences. Take the free emotional intelligence test to assess your EQ, http://www.ihhp.com/quiz.php.
2. Change Your Thoughts. We can influence our emotions through the condition of our minds. Chuck Swindoll once said, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” Our reactions can be controlled by our thoughts, so begin to focus your mind, think positive thoughts and look at the bigger picture.
3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes. If you are upset or hurt over something that someone did or said to you, try to look at it from a different perspective and put yourself in their shoes. Also learn to let go because holding onto frustration will only pull you down further. As Buddha said, “If you let go of your expectations, you will have no pain.”
4. Believe in the Butterfly Effect. The effect of one good gesture you do, such as smiling or taking the time to listen to someone, will begin to rub off on people and have a ripple effect throughout space and time. Start smiling more often and see how many more people smile back at you!

References: Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam. Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, cognition and personality, 9(3), 185-211.


VBI corporate trainer Dawn Kaiser

Author Bio
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.

Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.

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