Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to recognise and understand emotions and use that information to guide decision making.
As a teacher of leadership and management, I often ask my students if they feel they are emotionally intelligent. Most believe they are, however after further exploration of the topic, they begin to appreciate that perhaps their EQ is not as high as they may have originally thought. As part of our discussions, the students reflect on their workplace leaders and often complain about their lack of emotional intelligence. In light of this, I recently did some research and came across an interesting article on “Why developing Emotional Intelligence is harder than you think” written by Justin J Bariso. In the article the writer discusses how we regularly feel that others lack in EQ but we ourselves do not lack. The writer goes on to explain the reason why we are not very good at measuring our own EQ. In the article he talks about the perspective gap. This concept is explained as follows: “When we’re not experiencing a psychologically or physically intense state, we dramatically underestimate how much it will affect us. For instance, evidence shows that physicians consistently think their patients are feeling less pain than they actually are. Without being in a state of pain themselves, physicians can’t fully realise what it’s like to be in that state.” A big part of being emotionally intelligent is having empathy and as the writer says, showing true empathy means exploring the “why’, looking beyond to learn what others may be dealing with that may be influencing their actions and/or behaviour.
Emotional intelligence is an exceptional skill to develop and it requires one to start with self. Honesty about one’s actions and getting feedback from others is a good place to start as often self is the most difficult character of all to understand and manage.
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By Kerry Hall