The Essential Key to Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence

What exactly is emotional intelligence? John D. Mayer, one of two psychologists who coined the term in 1990 defined it in the Harvard Business Review as: “… the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.” To put it even more succinctly, I’ve defined emotional intelligence as the ability to use your emotions intelligently, in real time, to build and sustain relationships.

Research consistently shows, utilizing modern technology such as FMRI – Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and other high tech equipment, the intrinsic link between intelligence and emotions (brain and heart) – and the fact that great leaders are highly cognizant of this connection.

The days of the autocratic ruthless business leader who leaves a trail of dead bodies in its wake are gone for good – and good riddance to them. Millennials for sure, will not tolerate being treated as garbage – nor should anyone else.

Unlike your I.Q., there are many ways to exponentially increase your E.I. (emotional intelligence) throughout your lifetime. However, the absolute essential way is to increase your self-awareness. Know what makes you tick, especially what turns you off and makes you angry. These are often referred to as trigger points because they often trigger an unbridled emotional reaction, which we often regret. (And of course it is important to know what makes you happy.)

The greater awareness and understanding you have of your own emotions, the better you will be able to modify their expression to fit the situation at hand. Since my earlier definition of emotional intelligence states: “the ability to use your emotions intelligently” you see the obvious connection between awareness of your emotion so you can control its expression – instead of the emotions controlling you.

There is no education, no position and no title that takes the place of self-awareness when one is in a leadership position. We cannot undo the damage of harsh words expressed to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong way. When this happens, our ability to lead is extremely compromised.

Therefore, if you want to become a great leader, begin with a sincere commitment to self-awareness.

 

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Dr. Patty Ann
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