I am not a very emotional person. I’ve become more sympathetic over time after having two boys and working with people who have a wide array of personalities.
I won’t lie, though; building my emotional intelligence has taken patience and intentional practice!
You may be asking what emotional intelligence has to do with B2B marketing or career development, but trust me, it’s crucial.
Being able to communicate and relate better to others inside and outside the workplace will help you get ahead in life.
So, what is emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient or “EQ”?
Here is my own definition: EQ is the ability to see other people’s points of view and make an effort to modify your actions to reach a resolution during conflicts or disagreements.
Obviously, this applies more to the business setting.
Here is a definition from our BFF, Google: EQ is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.
Why is it important?
Possessing a high EQ allows someone to be able to communicate with others from an empathetic perspective, as well as defuse conflict in a positive way.
Once you understand the definition, it’s easy to see the benefits of having a high EQ.
It can help you:
- Build better personal relationships with others
- Defuse conflicts and find compromises
- Enhance team morale
- Be a better version of yourself
How can you increase your EQ?
1. Work on listening intently
It’s not about just hearing what others say. It’s about really listening earnestly and attentively.
Sometimes there are underlying messages that others try to communicate, but they are either too polite to say things bluntly or unable to find the right words to explain their points of view.
You need to listen carefully. The best way to be sure you understand is to paraphrase what you’ve heard back to them.
Say things like, “Okay, let me try to understand…”, “Here is my understanding…”, and “Let me paraphrase…”
By regurgitating, you subconsciously open up your mind a bit, and your brain takes a mental note of a completely different opinion.
At the same time, you show others not only that you are willing to listen but that you’re making an effort to “understand” them.
The willingness to listen is a way to show compassion and empathy.
Listening intently is the first requisite to improving your emotional intelligence.
2. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
Recently, I watched a 2019 movie called The Best of Enemies on Netflix; the Taraji Henson and Sam Rockwell film is based on a true story that happened in Durham, NC, in 1971.
An unlikely friendship was forged between civil rights activist Ann Atwater and local Ku Klux Klan leader CP Ellis.
Honestly, the Rotten Tomatoes review is only 52%, and the audience score is 76%, so take that with a grain of salt, but I think the message of the film is helpful to put EQ in a proper context.
The backdrop of the story is that a Black elementary school caught on fire, leaving students with nowhere to learn.
The city council made a finding that the school was still usable, which was not true. The NAACP helped to file a lawsuit and asked for the students to be allowed to temporarily attend the local white school while the fire-damaged facilities were being rebuilt.
Rather than the judge making a decision, he decided to bring proven mediation expert Bill Riddick in to help the town come to an agreement about what should happen.
Bill used an approach called charrette which invites everyone to have their say.
He asked Ann and CP to co-chair the charrette, and through the open discussions, they narrowed down the issues they needed to discuss.
The townspeople were broken down into different groups to brainstorm and hammer out different resolution points. Then, they would regroup as a whole each night for the wrap-up.
They also selected 10 people, 5 people from each side, for what they called the Senate. The Senate would vote on all resolutions on the final night of the charrette.
Many things happened during the course of the film to shift CP’s mindset, but a pivotal moment came when he took a visit to the fire-damaged school in the summer, typically a season of leisure for children; he was affected by the sight of Black students still attending school to try and make up for a lost time. It was then that he began to have a real change of heart.
Spoiler alert: He cast a pivotal vote for the resolution of school integration.
At the end of the movie, you can see the real Ann Atwater and CP Ellis sharing their own stories.
Walking in someone else’s shoes always has some profound impact on all of us, whether we agree with that person’s point of view or not.
You don’t need to agree with them, but you need to be able to see where they’re coming from and why they do certain things or think in certain ways.
Sometimes, learning to accept differences is one way to move forward. Other times, making a pivotal change is a way to move forward.
Ultimately, your level of emotional intelligence directly equates to your level of empathy.
It will affect your ability to resolve conflict healthily and form and maintain relationships, both in your personal life and at work, so it’s well worth examining where or how you can make adjustments and improve.
As I stated earlier, I am not a very emotional person, aka, I am not very sympathetic at times.
My take on life: it’s tough, and as humans, we all just have to deal with it.
However, we all handle hardship differently, so it’s important to be sensitive to others’ coping mechanisms.
Here is a great quote from Brene Brown:
“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’”
There is no right or wrong way to improve your emotional intelligence, but a good starting point is to start listening intently, be open-minded, and imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes.
If you’re unsure of where to start your journey towards building a higher EQ, seeking out self-improvement mentoring and coaching is a great place to start.
Drop me a line if you’d like to explore resources!
If you prefer to listen, check out my podcast episode, Quick Guide To Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.