Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?
I had a great chat with my Inner Human podcast cohost, Ty Vuong, yesterday about the rise of the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) along with how a person can become more emotionally intelligent. In doing research for the (Soon to launch) podcast I came across so many interesting articles and perspectives. Unsurprisingly, most of them converge on a few different ideologies and methods. One thing that is frequently mentioned is how most people don’t think to bolster their emotional intelligence. They think perhaps it’s just a character trait but not something they can actually improve. The current body of research provides fairly strong evidence that would refute this claim.
The skill of having emotional intelligence is not so simple to measure, but also immeasurably important. Think of ANY time where a miscommunication led to a negative result.
Have you ever gotten into an argument with somebody? Oh wow, you have? How surprising.
What led up to that argument? Where was the breakdown in communication? If you think about it, the majority of arguments are driven by poor communication. But poor communication is a vehicle for a lack of emotional intelligence.
Typical EI example: Jack comes home from a long and aggravating day at work and is expecting to walk into the smell of a delicious home-cooked meal. Jack’s wife (Jill) always nails the timing just right so when he walks through the door for dinner to being served. Today, Jack stepped into the kitchen and there’s no food to be found. Jill is taking a shower and Jack, well, Jack is hungry.
Jill comes out of the shower and Jack goes and asks her, “What are we going to do about dinner?” In an irritated tone. This elevates Jill’s anger and she says, “I don’t know, why don’t you figure it out?” They both start raising their voices and sending jabs back and forth and before Jack knows it, they are in a full-blown fight.
This sounds really simple to avoid right? But if you take a hard, introspective look you will probably find that it’s an all too possible scenario. So, let’s dissect the situation to see how high emotional intelligence could have led to a better outcome. To do this, we will break down 4 key domains of emotional intelligence and how to apply them.
1) Self-Awareness: A person’s ability to understand and predict their own emotions. This includes being able to recognize how external factors shape your emotional state.
2) Self-Management: A person’s ability to take their already constructed self-awareness and convert it into actionable changes in their behavior.
3) Social Awareness: A person’s ability to understand the emotional drivers of another, predict their emotions and how external factors will impact that other persons’ emotions.
4) Relationship Management: The ability to combine the above 3 concepts and affect actionable change within your behavior to positively shape your own emotions and the emotions of others.
So, let’s revisit Jack’s behavior and see if we can set this right. We are going to sequentially work through the 4 domains, assuming that Jack is now an emotional intelligence master.
High EI example: Jack comes home from a long and aggravating day at work and is expecting to walk into the smell of a delicious home-cooked meal. Jack’s wife (Jill) always nails the timing just right so when he walks through the door for dinner to being served. Today, Jack stepped into the kitchen and there’s no food to be found. Jill is taking a shower and Jack, well, Jack is hungry. However, Jack has a strong sense of self-awareness of his own emotions and knows that he tends to get frustrated when he is hungry; some might call it hangry. Jack thinks to himself, well this is quite odd, I wonder why Jill is taking a shower. Through self-management, he remembers to keep his anger in check as there might be some reason why they aren’t having dinner as usual.
Jill comes out of the shower and Jack goes and asks her, “Hey honey, how was your day? Did we have other plans for dinner tonight” In a pleasant tone. Jill is extremely frustrated and says how the dog threw up on the hardwood and she found it by slipping in it and getting it all over herself. Seeing that Jill is upset, but using social awareness, Jack recognizes that he is not the subject of her anger. Jack thinks to himself that this is a great opportunity to employ relationship management and makes an attempt to ameliorate the situation. “I’m sorry, do you need some help cleaning anything up? Do you want me to start something for dinner?” Jill’s anger fades into a smile and she gives him a kiss. She replies, “you’re wonderful, but no worries, I already ordered a pizza.”