06Emotional Intelligence

What is emotional intelligence?

It is common that we come across someone having very high intellectual functioning but not succeeding in his/her career due to lack of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of and manage one’s emotions, as well as being able to understand other’s emotions. It also involves using this ability to make sound decisions, maintain interpersonal relationships, sustain motivation and manage stress. Since 1980s to 1990s, a number of models of emotional intelligence have been developed. Among these models, Daniel Goleman’s and Reuven Bar-On’s models have been widely recognized and used.

In Daniel Goleman’s model, there are five emotional competencies which are important for one’s success and well-being. First, one needs to have self-awareness in one’s internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions. Second, a person needs to have the ability for self-regulation given one being able to be aware of one’s inner world. The self-regulation involves being able to manage one’s internal states, impulses and resources. Third, the person needs to have the emotional capacity to guide oneself to reach goals. Fourth, one needs to have the capacity to handle relationships well. Fifth, the person needs to have good social skills.

Another well-known model is developed by Reuven Bar-On. In this model, there are also five areas of emotional intelligence. The first area, the self-perception realm, is the ability to be aware and manage our inner self. The second area, the self-expression realm, is our ability to handle our external world. The third area, the interpersonal realm, is our ability to relating with others. The fourth area, the decision making realm, is the ability to use our emotional data to solve problems and make sound decisions. The fifth area, the stress-management realm, is about our ability to be flexible, control impulses and manage stress.

In today’s fast-changing world, technology, artificial intelligence, as well as globalization change the skill sets that we need to equip ourselves to survive and succeed. In fact, soft skills are more important than the more concrete knowledge data in the future. It is apparent that emotional intelligence is becoming more and more important in this era.

How can we become more self-aware of our inner world?

Emotional self-awareness in the basic element of emotional intelligence that we need to acquire. It is important for us to understand our internal emotional world before we can manage it. Without emotional self-awareness, we cannot use our emotional data to guide us in decision making, impulse control and stress management. There are a number of components of emotions that we can notice of our present emotional states, which include bodily sensations, cognitions, behaviors, feeling tone, and felt sense.

Mindfulness practice is one of the ways to enhance our emotional self-awareness. Being present and be aware of our emotional state whenever we remember during our daily living could be one of the ways to practice emotional self-awareness.

How can we become better at handling our external world through being more assertive?

Being assertive means to communicate in a clear way of our viewpoints, needs, rights, and/ or expectations, without ambiguity. In order to be assertive, we need to be sensitive to the needs of the other party and their responses. Before we can communicate in an assertive way, we need to have emotional self-awareness. We need to understand our own feelings, thoughts and impulse, so that we can manage our internal world better before conveying our messages to others.

Assertiveness is a skill that requires persistent practice, especially for those who are passive and indirect. A common way to communicate in an assertive way is to include four basic components in our messages to others, including the actions of others that triggered our emotional reactions, our feelings about other’s actions, our expectation on the other party to make changes or accommodation in the future, as well as the possible consequences of the other party not meeting our expectation. Practice makes perfect. Be more mindful of our inner world and learn to be more assertive in our communication with others.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to see the world of from others’ perspectives. It is the ability to be aware of , understand and appreciate others’ internal world. It is a very important component in the interpersonal realm of the Bar-On model of emotional intelligence. Without empathy, we cannot relate with others in an harmonious way as we can only focus on our own feelings and thinking.

Empathic listening is a powerful skills in communication as we convey our empathy to the other party that we actually listen to what he or she is saying and give empathic response to feedback of our understanding of him or her. Like many other skills in communication, empathic listening requires our constant practice. We can learn to ask more questions in our interaction with the other party to know more about his or her thinking and feelings. It is a skill that is very important for everyone who wants to have a fruitful communication with others.

Why is impulse control important for our work performance and leadership effectiveness?

A staff or a leader in an organization needs to make optimal decisions everyday at work. He or she also needs to have comprehensive management skills to manage one’s subordinates for the best company benefits. Without impulse control, a staff or a leader may be impulsive in making important decisions and in communicating with one’s colleagues and staff in an abusive or explosive way. Neuroscientific research found that our decision making is affected by our unconscious inner preconceptions and assumptions. Without impulse control, we may make the wrong decisions by following our immediate emotional reactions to the situations. Therefore, good impulse control can help us to prevent ourselves from reacting to situations emotionally in our relationship with our colleagues an staff and in our decision making process.

Why is stress management important for our career development and leadership?

It is inevitable for workers and leaders in the corporate world to face enormous amount of stress in one’s work and in managing their companies. In order to be able to manage one’s stress well, one needs to have to ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic environmental conditions. Being flexible is one of the important abilities in reponding to the constantly changing environment without rigidity. It is a capcity to shift one’s perspectives and changing one’s behavior to cater for the changing needs of one’s environment. It also requires our open-mindedness in accepting and tolerate new ideas and perspectives.

Workers and leaders also need to equip themselves with high level of stress tolearance. It means that one needs to manage one’s reactions to stressors without developing physical or emotionals problems. It is important that workers and leaders are resourceful and effective in stress coping. It is also beneficial if ones can maintain a positive outlook in the face of stressful situations. With adequate stress management skills, ones could face stressors in a calm and controlled manner.

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