Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville

November 2014

The Power of Emotional Intelligence

In my work, I am constantly shocked by the number of businesspeople who consider themselves emotionally intelligent and are anything but.

Daniel Goleman, a Harvard-trained psychologist and writer, brought the term emotional intelligence (or EQ) into the mainstream with his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence. His premise was that EQ skills impact how effectively people work with others. And,according to Goleman’s research, 90 percent of the difference between star performers and average performers can be attributed to EQ.

Emotional intelligence is composed of four main areas: self-awareness; self-management; social awareness; and relationship management.Emotionally intelligent leaders are well tuned to their own emotions and the emotions of others. They are able to pick up on what is going on around them, empathize, and provide helpful feedback when needed.

While it’s true that some people are more naturally emotionally intelligent than others, anyone can improve his or her emotional intelligence. Dr. Fabio Sala of The Hay Group found that workshops can be effective at improving EQ, and a study at Case Western University found that EQ training not only improves performance, but that such gains are retained over many years.

One of the simplest ways to enhance emotional intelligence is to examine our conversational patterns. A while back, I stumbled upon thiswonderful list of twelve “conversation busters.”

  1. Why questions. “Why did you...?” 

  2. One-upping. “That’s nothing. I…” Prescribing, Counseling, or Fixing. “Have you tried…?”

  3. Grabbing the spotlight. “That reminds me of the time …”

  4. Sarcasm. “I didn’t realize that you were an expert on the topic.”

  5. Defending. “I only did it because…”

  6. Blaming. “The devil made me do it.”

  7. Self Reproach (to yourself). “Darn, I should have …”

  8. Psychoanalyzing. “You were probably reacting to…”

  9. Reframing. “Well, it all worked out in the end. There was no need to worry.”

  10. Shoulding. “You should go …”

  11. Absolutes. “That music sucks,” instead of, “I prefer other types of music.”

By avoiding each of these patterns, we can become more emotionally intelligent and more successful at work and home.

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