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Emotional Intelligence

Harrison Barnes
By Nov 10,2021
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In this book, Emotional Intelligence, Sean McPheat talks about the impact of emotional intelligence (EI) on your career. The term is used a lot by human resources professionals  and career coaches. It’s supposed to be the key to having a successful professional and personal life. This book is a must-read for all people who believe that it only takes book-smarts to succeed in the workplace. Sean has tried to explain in this book how you can use EI to be more successful in the workplace, and some real-life examples of how it has helped people.

Emotional Intelligence


1 Overview of Emotional Intelligence

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Theories of Multiple Intelligences

1.3 The Importance of Emotions

1.4 Emotions and the Brain

2 Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in the Workplace

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Case Study Examples

2.2.1 The Value of Optimism

2.2.2 Cost-Savings from EI

2.2.3 Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

2.2.4 EI and Safer, Happier Workplaces

3 Models of Emotional Intelligence

3.1 Introduction

3.2 The Ability-Based Model

3.3 The Trait Model of EI

3.4 Mixed Models of EI

4 Self-Awareness

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Emotional Self-Awareness

4.2.1 Introduction

4.2.2 Increasing Self-Awareness

4.3 Accurate Self-Assessment

4.3.1 What Self-Assessment Involves

4.3.2 Tools for Self-Assessment

4.3.3 Forecasting Your Feelings

4.4 Self-Confidence

4.3.3 Forecasting Your Feelings

4.4 Self-Confidence

5 Self-Management

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Self-Control

5.2.1 Reflection

5.2.2 Reframing

5.2.3 Rehearsal

5.3 Trustworthiness

5.4 Conscientiousness

5.5 Adaptability

5.6 Achievement Orientation

5.7 Initiative

6 Social Awareness

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Empathy

6.2.1 Awareness and Acknowledgement

6.2.2 Sensitivity

6.3 Organizational Awareness

6.4 Service Orientation

7 Social Skills

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Influence

7.3 Leadership

7.4 Developing Others

7.5 Communication

7.6 Change Catalyst

7.7 Conflict Management

7.8 Building Bonds

7.9 Teamwork and Collaboration

8 Resources


We all know someone who is incredibly bright and yet cannot seem to pull their life together. The brilliant student who flunks out of university, or the incredibly intelligent worker who can’t seem to get ahead in their company. We know from our familiarity with them that they have a good to superior intelligence level, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to ensure success. And at the same time, we can probably describe in some form why we feel these people have not been successful. Our descriptions would include certain traits or behaviors that have nothing to do with intelligence.

Over time, scientists have begun to study why standard intelligence along isn’t enough to predict performance in an individual. They have realized that there is another type of intelligence that isn’t related to the standard cognitive intelligence – it’s called emotional intelligence.

This textbook will cover what emotional intelligence is, how you can discover what your own E.I actually is and how, by understanding your own emotions and those of others, take your leadership and management skills to the next level.

Sean McPheat, the Founder and Managing Director of management development specialists, MTD Training is the author of this publication. Sean has been featured on CNN, BBC, ITV, on numerous radio stations and has contributed to many newspapers. He’s been featured in over 250 different publications as a thought leader within the management development and training industry.

MTD has been working with a wide variety of clients (both large and small) in the UK and internationally for several years.

MTD specialise in providing:

  • In-house, tailor made management training courses (1-5 days duration)
  • Open courses (Delivered throughout the UK at various locations)
  • Management & leadership development programmes (From 5 days to 2 years)
  • Corporate and executive coaching (With senior or middle managers)

MTD provide a wide range of management training courses and programmes that enable new and experienced managers to maximise their potential by gaining or refining their management and leadership skills.

Our team of highly skilled and experienced trainers and consultants have all had distinguished careers in senior management roles and bring with them a wealth of practical experience to each course. At MTD Training we will design and deliver a solution that suits your specific needs addressing the issues and requirements from your training brief that best fits your culture, learning style and ways of working.

Our programmes are delivered when and where you need them! We believe that training should be fun, highly interactive and provide “real world” practical techniques and methods that you can use back in the office – and that’s exactly what we provide.

1. Overview of Emotional Intelligence

1.1 Introduction

We all know someone who is incredibly bright and yet cannot seem to pull their life together. The brilliant student who flunks out of university, or the incredibly intelligent worker who can’t seem to get ahead in their company. We know from our familiarity with them that they have a good to superior intelligence level, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to ensure success. And at the same time, we can probably describe in some form why we feel these people have not been successful. Our descriptions would include certain traits or behaviors that have nothing to do with intelligence.

The study of emotional intelligence has its roots in the
work of Darwin, who posited that emotional expression
was essential for survival.

Over time, scientists have begun to study why standard intelligence along isn’t enough to predict performance in an individual. They have realized that there is another type of intelligence that isn’t related to the standard cognitive intelligence – it’s called emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a relatively new subject of study, though its roots go back to the time of Darwin, who posited that emotional expression was essential for survival. But what do we mean when we talk about emotional intelligence? The fact is that there are numerous ways of defining emotional intelligence. But for now, let’s say that it is the ability to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of others and then to use that knowledge to help manage the expression of emotions so that they foster success instead of cause roadblocks.

Those who have high levels of emotional intelligence, or EI for short, are able to understand the physical, mental, and social impact that negative emotions have on their bodies, minds, relationships, and ability to pursue and achieve goals. They then are able to moderate their own emotions so that their emotions support their activities and enhance their quality of life.

Emotional intelligence involves a combination of
competencies which allow a person to be aware of, to
understand, and to be in control of their own emotions, to
recognize and understand the emotions of others, and to
use this knowledge to foster their success and the
success of others.

People with highly developed EI are proven to be more successful in the workplace because they can understand their emotions and why they behave the way that they behave. They can use their emotions as clues to what their body and mind are trying to tell them. And they can use their EI to truly understand others and their points of view.

When they wield this kind of tool, they can overcome the kinds of emotional obstacles that tend to stop us all. They can understand why others feel the way that they feel and why they are doing what they are doing, and use that knowledge to help others perform at their best. They can resolve conflict quickly and recover from setbacks with aplomb. They are good in a crisis, strong at communicating, and successful where others fail. Later in this ebook, we’ll look in more detail at some real-life examples of how EI can help you in the workplace. But now, let’s look at how emotional intelligence is different from our traditional ideas about intelligence.

1.2 Theories of Multiple Intelligences

Until the last century, the understanding of intelligence was strictly related to cognitive functions such as memory, learning, and problem-solving. However, scientists had begun to understand by the 1900s that non-cognitive aspects of intelligence also exist.

For example, E.L. Thorndike described a type of social intelligence that was related to managing and understanding others. In 1940, David Wechsler further developed the concept of non-cognitive intelligence by arguing that no full definition of intelligence could exist until we were able to fully define those aspects that were not related to traditionally measured cognitive skills.

Then in 1983, Howard Gardner published a groundbreaking work entitled Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He argued that people have more than one type of intelligence, and that these types of intelligence were also actually cognitive in nature, yet could not fully be defined by current models such as standard Intelligent Quotient (IQ) tests. His model for multiple intelligences focused mainly on:

  • Intrapersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand one’s own feelings, motivations, and fears)
  • Interpersonal Intelligence: the ability to understand others and their desires, motivations, and intentions

Howard Gardner’s work proposed two additional types of
intelligence: Intrapersonal Intelligence and Interpersonal

Gardner believed that these additional intelligence types were just as important as traditional intelligence in predicting performance and success. So although the term emotional intelligence wasn’t being used at the time, the concept was being explored.

It wasn’t until 1985 that the term emotional intelligence was first used in the sense that we use it today, to describe these additional types of intelligence. The term was used in the doctoral thesis of Wayne Payne, A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence. From this point, the field has become rich with different models for defining emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence,
published in 1995, is the most widely recognized model in
use today.

However, there is one model which has become the most widely recognized as accurately describing the concept of emotional intelligence. It was published in 1995 by Daniel Goldman in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ. It was after the publication of this bestseller that the term emotional intelligence became widely used.

1.3 The Importance of Emotions

As Darwin theorized, researchers have learned that emotions serve a biological purpose. They signal to us when there is something wrong or when our needs are not getting met. When we need something that we are not getting or that we’re not getting regularly, we will feel a negative emotion. This could be anger, fear, disappointment, depression, or any other negative emotion.

Emotions serve a biological purpose – they tell us when
our needs are not being met.

There are social, mental, and even physical consequences to our ability to deal with our emotions. Since our emotions are a way our body can talk to us, we ignore them at our own peril. Not only will ignoring emotions ensure unhappiness, but it can lead to physical illness and even early death. It has been found that not only are people with a high level of EI more successful in their careers, but they also are healthier, happier, and enjoy better relationships with others.

Those with a high level of EI tend to experience a healthy balance of feelings like:

  • Motivation
  • Friendship
  • Focus
  • Fulfillment
  • Peace of Mind
  • Awareness
  • Balance
  • Self-control
  • Freedom
  • Autonomy
  • Contentment
  • Appreciation
  • Connection
  • Desire

But those with a lower level of EI tend to feel more:

  • Loneliness
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Emptiness
  • Bitterness
  • Depression
  • Instability
  • Lethargy
  • Disappointment
  • Obligation
  • Resentment
  • Anger
  • Dependence
  • Victimization
  • Failure

Therefore, for our own general happiness and quality of life, it behooves us to learn to develop our emotional intelligence. With some basic understanding, you can alter the way you experience your emotions and the way you react to them in any situation.

1.4 Emotions and the Brain

Before beginning to explore how emotional intelligence works, it’s important to realize that emotions do have a physical basis in the brain. Have you ever felt out of control of your emotions? We all have at one time or another. This can be explained somewhat by the way emotions are processed in the brains. When external stimuli are received through one of our five senses, the signal is sent to the thalamus and ‘translated’ into the brain’s language of chemical signals. The majority of the signal is then sent to the area of the brain that is responsible for rational thought.

If the correct response involves and emotion, the signal is sent on to the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center. But at the same time that most of the signal is sent to the rational area of the brain for processing, a portion of it is sent straight to the amygdala, before the brain has had the chance to cognitively process the signal. In other words, a strong enough signal from our senses will trigger an immediate emotional response before we’ve been able to rationalize how we should respond.

When a strong enough stimulus is received through the
senses, part of the signal is sent directly to the amygdala,
the emotional center of the brain, before the rational side
of the brain has a chance to determine the appropriate

This relationship between the rational and emotional parts of the brain develops from infancy, as children learn through the emotional relationships they have with their caregivers at the same time that the rational part of the brain is developing. Plus, one study showed how important the relationship between the emotional and rational parts of the brain is; a lawyer was diagnosed with a brain tumor which required surgery as part of treatment. The surgery severed the connections between the rational and emotional areas of the brain.

The results were very interesting and illustrated the fact that emotional and cognitive intelligence have to interact in order for us to function in the world. Although his intelligence level seemed the same after the surgery, he was no longer able to make decisions. This is because our decision-making process is an emotional one, based on how we relate to our established values. Imagine how the inability to make decisions would impact you in the workplace, and you can begin to understand how vital just this one concept of emotional intelligence is.

The good news is that by understanding that our emotions are a natural, neurological response to the experience of strong stimuli, we can take the time to allow our rational brain to catch up. We can pay attention to what our emotions are telling us, but learn to manage our response to them. This practice makes you less susceptible to being overwhelmed by your emotions, but instead lets you regulate them and choose how to respond to them in a rational manner.

The lesson here is that we cannot and should not try to escape, squelch, or ignore our emotions. Wherever we go, whatever we do, our emotions are with us. They have a biological and an evolutionary basis, and your emotions are trying to tell you something. Your job is to learn how to listen to them, and to act according to your best interests. What you’ll be learning in the rest of this ebook is how to do just that.

2. Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in the Workplace

2.1 Introduction

The word is out about emotional intelligence. Companies who once focused only on where their new hires went to college have learned that IQ alone isn’t going to make them successful. The way they conduct themselves, the way they express themselves, and the way they interact with others are all as important if not more important than the person’s score on an intelligence test.

Companies have realized that IQ alone cannot predict an
individual’s performance or success.

Think for a moment about the last time that you faced a difficult challenge at work. How did it make you feel? At first, you may have been excited and energized, but what if there were more problems than expected in getting the work done? Others might have dropped their responsibilities, or the boss stopped supporting you, or despite all your hard work, the product launch was still a disappointment.

Perhaps you were up for a promotion or you expected a raise or a bonus but you didn’t get it. Or maybe you feel you haven’t been treated fairly in the workplace and that others are getting ahead for reasons other than their hard work. Or you just can’t seem to get along with your colleague, no matter what you do.

Can you describe how situations like this made you feel? Better yet, can you understand how those emotions impacted the way that you responded to the situation? How long did it take for you to ‘get past’ the situation and move on to being productive again? Did you or do you understand how the others involved in these situation were feeling?

When an individual has not developed their EI, they tend to get stopped by setbacks. They either can’t get past these kinds of situations, or they struggle past it after a long period of time. They may react negatively to the other people involved, which results in increased animosity and difficulty in being productive. They may take things personally that are not meant to be. They may feel like a victim rather than feeling empowered. All in all, these types of situations prevent them from being as successful as possible in the workplace.

Someone who has a highly developed EI still face these types of situations, just like everyone else. Yet the way they react is different. They are able to stop and analyze what they are feeling, and to understand how those feelings are impacting their behavior and their choices. They are able to recognize how other people are feeling and to empathize with them.

Imagine what could be possible in a workplace full of
employees with highly developed El.

They can then choose the behavior and actions that will help them to not just move past a situation, but to resolve it – both within themselves and in relationship to others. And as they practice, they will get faster and faster at recovering from stumbling blocks. At their most emotionally intelligent, they can see setbacks as learning experiences and chances to improve their relationships with others. Then these roadblocks no longer stop them, but rather help them develop their potential.

Now imagine a workplace full of employees with highly developed EI. What would be possible? You could have a work environment where:

  • Everyone’s ideas are respected
  • Teams work at their optimum
  • Gossip and other negative behaviors stop
  • Everyone encourages and celebrates each other’s success
  • Stumbling blocks are quickly surmounted
  • Decisions are value-based
  • Integrity is valued
  • Work relationships are rewarding
  • Your potential is continually developed

2.2 Case Study Examples

Emotional intelligence can appear in multiple forms and have multiple impacts in the workplace. But what each of the examples that follow has in common is that in each case, EI made a difference in how the employees performed and in the results they were able to produce.

2.2.1 The Value of Optimism

In a study by Martin Seligman at Met Life, it was discovered that those with high emotional intelligence also had high levels of optimism. In this sense, Seligman is referring to the ability to handle setbacks. He discovered that optimists are able to look at a roadblock as something external to them and temporary, while pessimists view them as being caused by some internal flaw and having permanence.

Optimism has been proven to be a better predictor of
salesperson performance than traditional job screening

That sounds fine, but why does it matter? The researchers discovered that those sales people who showed high levels of optimism sold 37 percent more insurance that the pessimists in the first two years on the job. Furthermore, the company hired a group of new sales people who failed the normal job screening tests but tested high on the optimism scale. They sold 21 percent more insurance in their first year on the job and 57 percent more during their second year on the job. Clearly, emotional intelligence in the form of optimism was more important in predicting performance than the traditional ‘intelligence’ tests the company had been using.

Similar results were found at L’Oreal. Compared to the company’s traditional job selection process, the use of EI competency tests resulted in hiring salespeople who sold an average of over $90,000 more than other salespeople. The annual result? Over $2.5 million in increased revenue. But that’s not all – those hired for their EI were 63 percent less likely to leave in the first year than salespeople selected in the traditional method.

2.2.2 Cost-Savings from EI

Another example comes from the experience of the US Air Force. When hiring recruiters, the government used an emotional intelligence test as part of the process. They found that the recruiters who performed the best were the ones that had scored the highest on the EI test – particularly in the competencies of emotional self awareness, empathy, happiness, and assertiveness.

Hiring employees who have high levels of El gives you a
better chance of hiring the right people the first time and
reduces employee turnover, resulting in significant cost

The Air Force soon learned that it could increase the chances of hiring successful recruiters by three times as much if they used the EI test. They found that using EI tests saved over $3 million annually by being able to hire the right people the first time. The results were so notable that the Government Accountability Office (formerly the Government Accounting Office) presented the information to Congress who in turn requested that the Department of Defense use emotional intelligence tests in recruitment and selection in all of the armed forces.

2.2.3 Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Study after study proves that the best, most successful leaders have higher developed EI than others. Not only that, but they are more likely to stick around than those who haven’t had EI training – representing cost savings as well. And when a leader does fail, it can usually be attributed to a lack of emotional competence.

Multiple studies have shown that the most successful
leaders in organizations are those that have higher levels
of El

One study examined 300 leading executives in 15 international organizations. The truly exceptional performers in the group were strong in six particular emotional competencies: drive for achievement, leadership, team leadership, self-confidence, organizational awareness, and influence.

In a study at a large beverage company, the difference in hiring methods was studied. In cases where division presidents were hired with traditional methods, 50 percent of them left within two years. Most of them left due to poor performance. When the company switched to using emotional competencies as a selection factor for division presidents, only 6 percent of them left in the next two years. But the difference didn’t stop there. The ones that were chosen based on their EI were more likely to be in the top third of performance ratings and also surpassed their performance targets by between 15 and 20 percent.

Even more interesting is the fact that emotional intelligence has been shown to be more important in rising to the top of an organization than IQ, or cognitive competencies. Figure 1 below shows the frequency with which an individual showing EI competencies became president or CEO of a company in comparison to those who were passed over for the top jobs. Figure 2 shows the frequency with which those showing cognitive competencies were promoted to the top jobs over their peers.

Emotional intelligence has been shown to be more
important in rising to the top of an organization than
cognitive competencies.

Notice that even the least frequent emotional intelligence competencies were still present more times than either cognitive competency. And in the case of self-control, those selected as CEOs showed that EI competency seven times more frequently than those who did not make the cut. Clearly, emotionally intelligent people tend to become emotionally intelligent, successful leaders.

1 El Competencies 2 Frequency Shown
3 Self-control 4 7x
5 Empathy 6 3x
7 Teamwork 8 2.5x
9 Self-confidence 10 2x
11 Achievement Orientation 12 2x

Figure 1: Frequency of El Competencies in CEOs and Presidents vs. Others

Cognitive Competencies Frequency Shown
Analytical Thinking 1.2X
Conceptual Thinking 1.5X

 Figure 2: Frequency of Cognitive Competencies in CEOs and Presidents vs. Others

Finally, lack of EI seems to play a role when leaders don’t succeed. The Center for Creative Leadership has shown that there are three main reasons that executives seem to fail. They were: inability to handle change, poor interpersonal relationships, and not being able to work well with a team.

2.2.4 EI and Safer, Happier Workplaces

Another study showed that EI could have an impact on safety and labor relations in a manufacturing environment. In one plant, supervisors were trained in EI competencies related to listening to employees and helping them have the self-confidence to solve problems on their own. The results were impressive -and possibly unexpected. Formal grievances reduced by 80 percent, the plant passed their production goals by a quarter of a million dollars, and lost-time accidents were cut in half.

3. Models of Emotional Intelligence

3.1 Introduction

When defining emotional intelligence, one faces the challenge that there is not one decided definition. There is disagreement between researchers on exactly what terminology to use and exactly how much of our behavior can be affected by EI. However, there have been several models put forth in attempts to fully define and describe EI. Currently, there are three main models: the Ability EI model, the Trait EI model, and the Mixed EI model. The field is so popular now that researchers are still publishing revisions to these models, so this information will be refined as more is learned about EI.

There is significant debate in the academic and
professional communities over which mode! of El is most
comprehensive. However, three main model types have
been proposed.

3.2 The Ability-Based Model

The majority of the research for this model was done by Solvey and Mayer. They defined EI as:

The major tenets of this model are that emotions are a means of information that is useful in interacting in social environments and in social relationships. It is also important to understand that not all individuals have the same ability to process emotional information and then to relate that information to overall cognitive processes. The model proposes four main types of emotional abilities:

  • Emotional Perception – an individual’s ability to recognize his own emotions and to understand the emotions expressed in faces, voices, and pictures. This is the basic skill involved in EI because unless you can perceive emotions you cannot manage them.
  • Emotional Use – the ability to use emotions in order to perform other cognitive activities. Someone with high EI can use their emotions in order to help them think through a situation and solve problems. She is able to use her varying moods to the best advantage for completing required tasks.
  • Emotional Understanding – The ability to perceive the shades of emotion that exist and how different emotions interact with each other. This ability also includes comprehension of how emotions may evolve across a period of time.
  • Emotional Management – the ability to self-regulate emotions and to regulate emotions in others. The person with a high level of this ability can harness positive or negative emotions and manage them in a way that facilities the completion of required tasks.

This model has faced some criticism because it is modeled on the IQ test. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Test (MSCEIT) uses problem-solving challenges that are emotionally charged in order to test the participant’s ability on each of the four abilities as well as an overall rating of EI. The test assumes that the test taker will be responsive to social norms that are in place in our society, and is scored by comparing the respondent’s answers to a global sample of others who have responded.

However, the test doesn’t allow for emotionally ‘intelligent’ answers that are unique but may still be valid. Therefore, some argue that the test does not allow for the breadth of ways in which each of the EI abilities may manifest itself. In other words, if you come up with an effective, creative new idea or solution to the problem, you would receive a low score because no one else had thought of the idea. This is a flaw in the exam which cannot always be controlled for.

One possible definition for El: Knowing what
feels good, what feels bad, and how to get
from bad to good.

3.3 The Trait Model of EI

The most recent model of EI was published in 2009 by Petrides and colleagues. This model marks a break from the idea that EI is ability-based. Instead, it proposes that people have, as part of their personalities, a number of emotional self-perceptions and emotional traits. These traits aren’t measured in the scientific sense, but are instead measured by the respondent’s self-report. Of course, this assumes that the respondent is able to accurately describe his or her own traits.

It’s important to note that this model of EI can only be viewed in conjunction with a comprehensive exploration of a person’s personality. This is distinct from the other models, which posit that EI is a brain-based ability, not an environmental aspect of personality. Since this is the newest model of EI, it will take time before it can be fully examined and confirmed or rejected by the research community at large.

3.4 Mixed Models of EI

The mixed model was most famously described by Daniel Goleman, and is today the most widely accepted and used model for EI. It involves a range of competencies which are broken down into skill sets and which together form the picture of a person’s level of EI. Figure 3 outlines Goleman’s model. Each of these competencies and skills will be explored in depth in the following chapters.

Goleman’s El Competencies

Self Awareness: Knowing how we feel in the moment and using our gut feelings to help drive decision making; having a realistic understanding of our own abilities and a strong sense of self-confidence.

  • Emotional Self-Awareness
  • Accurate Self-Assessment
  • Self-Confidence

Self Management: Handling our own emotions so that they don’t interfere but facilitate; having the ability to delay gratification in pursuit of a goal; recovering well from emotional distress; translating our deepest, truest preferences into action in order to improve and succeed.

  • Self-Control
  • Trustworthiness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Initiative

Social Awareness: Sensing what others are feeling; being able to understand situations from others’ perspective; cultivating relationships with a diverse range of people.

  • Empathy
  • Organizational Awareness
  • Service Orientation

Social Skills: Handling emotions in respect to relationships with other people; able to read the intricacies of social interactions; able to interact in social situations well; able to use this skill set to influence, persuade, negotiate, and lead.

  • Influence
  • Leadership
  • Developing Others
  • Communication
  • Change Catalyst
  • Conflict Management
  • Building Bonds
  • Teamwork and Collaboration

Figure 3: Goleman’s El Competencies

What is most important to recognize about Goleman’s model of EI is that these competencies are not considered to be innate. Instead, they must be developed over time in order to develop and improve performance. Unlike IQ, which is believed to be ‘fixed’ by the time we reach adulthood, EI is not. You can continue to develop your emotional intelligence throughout your lifetime.

4. Self-Awareness

4.1 Introduction

In Goleman’s competencies, self-awareness is the building block of all the others. Without recognizing what you are feeling, you cannot proceed to the other competencies. Self-awareness involves three skills:

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Accurate self-assessment
  • Self-confidence

In a sense, these three skills can also be said to build upon each other. You must first be aware of your emotional state, and then you can assess it. By having a firm grasp on your emotions and an understanding of how they manifest, you can feel more self assured and in control, which of course will be a boost to your self-confidence. We’ll look at these skills each in turn.

4.2 Emotional Self-Awareness

4.2.1 Introduction

When we are not aware of our feelings and the causes of them, leading a happy, productive life is difficult if not impossible. Sure, there may be outward signs of success, such as money, prestige, or career success. But to be truly happy, we must be able to determine what makes us feel good. At the same time, we must be able to determine when something makes us feel bad. Then we must use this knowledge to inform our actions.

We cannot truly be happy and productive until we are
aware of our feelings and what causes them.

This sounds deceptively simple, but it is surprising how few people are actually able to determine exactly what they are feeling when they feel it. Being fully aware of our feelings requires not just acknowledging them, but identifying them and, eventually, accepting the message that they are trying to tell us.

Unfortunately, our society is not geared around feeling our emotions, but instead tends to result in most of us attempting to ignore them. Some researchers in the field argue that people use various methods such as eating, drinking, smoking, taking medications, exercising obsessively, or working excessively as ways to ignore their emotions. We stay in jobs we hate, relationships that are unfulfilling, or get trapped in repeating negative behaviors because we are ignoring the emotions that these things elicit. We get very good at rationalizing why we continue to repeat our behaviors or stay in relationships where we don’t feel fully engaged.

Our society is not generally geared towards encouraging
us to feel our emotions. Instead, most of us have learned
to engage in coping behaviors rather than exercise
emotional intelligence.

Yet all the time, under the surface, something isn’t right. Our body is trying to tell us that we are unhappy, stressed, unfulfilled, lonely, scared, or feeling any other emotion. It is telling us that we need to do something different. Yet we seem to have forgotten how to listen.

When you develop your level of emotional self-awareness, you are able to specify how you are feeling at any given moment. You can identify where the feeling is coming from, as well as how the body is expressing that feeling. For example, you might realize you are angry, and that your muscles in your body are tense. Or you might recognize that you are anxious and realize that your palms are sweating as a result.

When you have emotional self-awareness, you can
identify how you are feeling at any given moment, where
that feeling is coming from, and how your body is
expressing that feeling.

4.2.2 Increasing Self-Awareness

Becoming aware of your emotions takes practice. At first, you may have a hard time identifying the specific emotions that you are feeling. But your ability to note what you are feeling will increase in time. Here are several suggestions for helping to increase your self-awareness.

1. “Check-in” with yourself.

To begin to identify your emotions, you’ll need to make time for doing so. Schedule particular times in the day that you can be alone and calm. Perhaps first thing in the morning, lunch time, and bed time would be good times to start. At first, you will do this at these regularly scheduled times in order to get in the habit of flexing your ‘identifying’ muscle. Eventually, you will be able to call on the skill anytime that you feel a strong, distressing, or other emotion.

Sit quietly and if possible, close your eyes. Ask yourself several questions, and be sure to answer them honestly. There is no right or wrong answer. Just listen to your responses. Suggestions for questions to ask are:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What am I feeling?
  • How long have I been feeling this way?
  • Where do I notice the feeling manifesting itself in my body? Am I tense, clenching my teeth, feeling tired; do I have a headache or a stomachache?

2. Label your emotions.

Once you are able to tell how you are feeling, you will want to be able to identify what started your negative feelings. Was there a particular ‘trigger’ ? As you get better at identifying your emotions, you can come up with your own labels for them. Remember that not all emotions are negative – practice recognizing and labeling the positive ones too.

Some suggestions for labels might be single words like anger, joy, fear, or sadness. Or you can give shades of meaning to your labels by using phrases like ‘fed up,’ ‘tired and worn out,’ or whatever rings truest for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help identify your triggers:

  • When did the feeling first start?
  • What was happening when the feeling started?
  • Has the strength of the emotion changed at all? How?

3. Be in the moment

Try to ‘hear’ your emotions as they happen. What are they telling you? We’ve probably all experienced our emotions as warnings, say when we are walking alone in an unfamiliar area of town or when a rough looking character approaches us on the street. Our nervousness is the body’s way of putting us on alert to possible danger. Maybe you’ve experienced it and called it intuition or instinct – but this same emotional response happens in other areas of our lives as well.

For example, if you agree to go to take on a challenging new project at work but you suddenly feel angry or irritated, what does that tell you? You might really be feeling that you are taking on more than your share of work and you need to speak to revisit the decision to accept the project.

Try to verbalize the emotion. For example, you might think, ‘ok, I am feeling really angry right now. I can feel it in my stomach and my back. What is the anger trying to tell me?’ If you learn to notice your emotions as they happen and you will be able to get better at connection emotions to their causes. In other words, acknowledging your emotions as they occur gives you more opportunities to learn about yourself.

4. Get to the ‘Root’ of the emotion.

You’ve identified your emotion with a label, and you are exploring what the emotion is trying to tell you. But you need to make sure that you are dealing with the full emotional story. Often we feel an emotion that is only the ‘tip’ of everything that we are feeling.

For example, imagine you are feeling angry. What’s underneath that anger? Are you angry because you feel vulnerable or out of control? Are you angry because someone has made you look bad and you think others will laugh at you? Are you angry because you accepted that work assignment even though you really didn’t want to?

All of these ‘roots’ of your anger are different, but the resulting emotion is the same. So you will need to be willing to look beyond the initial emotion and explore what else you might be feeling in order to be able to manage your emotions. Otherwise you’ll be addressing a symptom, not the root cause.

It’s important to note that we don’t always feel only one emotion at a time. It’s possible to feel many things at once, and even for some of them to seem as if they are conflicting. But every emotion that you feel is there for a reason. Take the time to identify and acknowledge each one in order to get the most information from what you are feeling.

4.3 Accurate Self-Assessment

Remember that we often feel more than one emotion at a
time. But each one of them offers information we can
learn about ourselves.

The second part of self-awareness is being able to accurately assess how your emotions are affecting your performance, your behavior, and your relationships. In addition, unless you work alone, you’ll want to assess how your emotions are affecting the other people in the workplace. We all know that person we work with whose mood swings throw the team off track or whose emotions make us want to avoid them. This is particularly important for leaders, who need to understand how they could be sabotaging the success of their entire team if they are not aware of the impact of their emotions.

4.3.1 What Self-Assessment Involves

Self-assessment involves honestly investigating and acknowledging your emotional strengths and weaknesses. As you have read the preceding chapters, hopefully you have begun to identify some areas of strength and some areas for improvement.

Self-Assessment involves honestly investigating and
acknowledging your emotional strengths and

People who have a strong capability for self-assessment are able to learn from new experiences because they know that they have some areas where they need to learn. They look at their weaknesses as opportunities for self-improvement and development. They are able to laugh at themselves and accept their weaknesses as their current state – not their inevitable reality. They are open to and even proactively seek out feedback from others because they want to know that they have gotten all the information possible for their self-assessment.

4.3.2 Tools for Self-Assessment

There are a number of EI assessment tools that will give you a formal opinion on where your EI strengths and weaknesses might lie. But if you are following the guidelines on self-awareness, self-assessment will begin to happen automatically. However, Figure 4 has some questions to help you get a very basic idea of where your emotional intelligence is currently. Choose the answer for each question that is most like the way you would likely react. Be honest!

1. You are feeling depressed and a friend asks you how you are doing. You are more likely to respond:

a) Great!

b) Fine, thanks.

c) I don’t know. Ok, I guess.

d) Not so great.

e) I feel depressed.

2. When the person you are in a relationship with says something that hurts your feelings, you:

a) Break up.

b) Walk away.

c) Try to hurt them back.

d) Say ‘you really hurt my feelings.’

e) Say ‘I feel hurt by that.’

3. When someone discovers that you have made a mistake, you:

a) Deny it.

b) Blame someone else.

c) Defend yourself.

d) Remind them of when they made a mistake.

e) Thank them.

4. When you feel afraid about something, you:

a) Worry and worry and worry some more.

b) Try not to think about it.

c) Ignore it and hope it goes away.

d) Consider how possible it is your feels will come true and think about options.

5. When someone tells you that you upset them, you:

a) Say they are just too sensitive

b) Say you were joking

c) Say you’re sorry and ask questions to understand exactly what upset them.

Figure 4: A Brief El Quiz

In the quiz in Figure 4, the last answer for each question is the one that displays the highest level of emotional intelligence. If you chose a different answer, then congratulations – you have already identified an area of your emotional awareness that you can begin to improve. If you chose all of the last answers, remember that this is only a sampling of the types of emotional situations that we face in any given day. You will need to continue to pay attention to what you are feeling in order to locate areas for improvement.

Of course, there is an EI assessment tool that is very simple to use. It’s free too. You simply ask others for feedback about your strengths and weaknesses. You won’t do this with just anyone – you would do it with people that you trust and with whom you have an important relationship. For example, you could ask your spouse, boss, subordinates, children, or close friends. You let them know that you are trying to learn how you interact with others and you want them to feel free to say what they really think.

There are two rules to using this tool. First, your main job is to listen. You can ask clarifying questions such as ‘can you tell me more about that?’, or use listening acknowledgements like ‘right’, ‘uh-huh,’ ‘sure.’ You don’t defend, explain, or rebut what is said to you. You have to keep an open mind and listen to the other person with the understanding that what they are saying is how you appeared to them in experiences they have had with you. This is a chance for you to learn about yourself, not an opportunity to justify past behavior.

Two rules to requesting feedback:

  1. Your main job is to listen. Avoid interjecting,
    interrupting, defending yourself or justifying your actions.
  2. You don’t hold anything against the person giving you
    feedback, even if you don’t like what you hear.

That brings us to the second rule – you don’t hold anything said against the person that said it. You need to be able to hear the good and the bad and to appreciate the other person’s candor. You should appreciate that they feel comfortable enough to tell you what might be difficult to hear. And if you find out you have something to apologize for, do it! Take the chance of cleaning up your relationships if you get it.

4.3.3 Forecasting Your Feelings

As you build emotional awareness in the present, you will begin to identify your ‘triggers,’ or situations in which you find that you regularly feel certain emotions. For example, you know that fighting with the boss will make you scared and nervous, whereas taking a hot bath will make you feel safe and secure.

Eventually you’ll be able to predict how you will feel in the future about similar situations, which will give you the option ahead of time to prepare for them. You can do this by listening to the way you speak to yourself and then practicing changing any counter-productive language. This exercise moves self-awareness from the present to the future, giving you an even deeper level of knowledge about yourself. We’ll talk more about this in the next chapter.

4.4 Self-Confidence

The final element of self-awareness is self-confidence. Recognizing and acknowledging your feelings and their impact is not always comfortable – especially at first. But those who have a highly developed level of self-confidence understand that what they learn about their strengths and weaknesses is not an indicator of their value or worth as a person. People who have a high level of self-confidence:

  • Have certainty about their own value and capabilities
  • Have a strong presence
  • Have a high level of self-assurance
  • Are willing to stick their necks out for something that is right
  • Don’t mind expressing an unpopular opinion if it is what they truly believe
  • Are able to make quick decisions even in uncertain circumstances
  • Believe they can control the direction of their lives – and do

From the last bullet point, we can surmise that self-confidence is another name for personal power. People who are highly self confident understand that they have a great deal of control over what happens to them in their lives, and they have no problem (or no major problem, at least) in pursuing it. To that end, the more self-confident you can become, the more you will find that you are able to influence the path of your life. Here are some tips for helping to build your self-confidence.

4.3.3 Forecasting Your Feelings

As you build emotional awareness in the present, you will begin to identify your ‘triggers,’ or situations in which you find that you regularly feel certain emotions. For example, you know that fighting with the boss will make you scared and nervous, whereas taking a hot bath will make you feel safe and secure.

Eventually you’ll be able to predict how you will feel in the future about similar situations, which will give you the option ahead of time to prepare for them. You can do this by listening to the way you speak to yourself and then practicing changing any counter-productive language. This exercise moves self-awareness from the present to the future, giving you an even deeper level of knowledge about yourself. We’ll talk more about this in the next chapter.

4.4 Self-Confidence

The final element of self-awareness is self-confidence. Recognizing and acknowledging your feelings and their impact is not always comfortable – especially at first. But those who have a highly developed level of self-confidence understand that what they learn about their strengths and weaknesses is not an indicator of their value or worth as a person. People who have a high level of self-confidence:

  • Have certainty about their own value and capabilities
  • Have a strong presence
  • Have a high level of self-assurance
  • Are willing to stick their necks out for something that is right
  • Don’t mind expressing an unpopular opinion if it is what they truly believe
  • Are able to make quick decisions even in uncertain circumstances
  • Believe they can control the direction of their lives – and do

From the last bullet point, we can surmise that self-confidence is another name for personal power. People who are highly self confident understand that they have a great deal of control over what happens to them in their lives, and they have no problem (or no major problem, at least) in pursuing it. To that end, the more self-confident you can become, the more you will find that you are able to influence the path of your life. Here are some tips for helping to build your self-confidence.

1. Make a ‘Strengths’ List

Start a journal where you list your significant achievements. You certainly know some areas where you excel already, and you can get additional areas of strengths from your feedback sessions. You can refer to this list from time to time when you need to remind yourself of all the things you are good at. Just be sure to keep it updated

2. Make a ‘Weaknesses’ List

Use this list not to chastise yourself, but as a kind of personal ‘to do’ list. You can use it to track your progress in each area that has needed improvement. Eventually, you may be able to move some of these weaknesses over to your Strengths list. Seeing that you can achieve something you set your mind to will help to build up your confidence.

3. See Failures as Learning Experiences

When you have setbacks or failures, view them as learning opportunities or meaningful challenges. Don’t dwell on them, but instead learn what you can from them and know that you now have that knowledge for the next situation in life.

5. Self-Management

5.1 Introduction

Self-Management is also referred to in some EI models as self-regulation. It refers to the act of taking responsibility for our emotions. When we take responsibility for the way we feel, it gives us a tool for making decisions that are the most supportive for our mental and emotional health. That in turn helps us be successful in motivating ourselves to achieve our goals. It helps us to overcome stumbling blocks and remain in action towards the things that we want in life. It lets us experience emotions without being controlled by them and it aids in our ability to build strong, lasting, and rewarding relationships – both in and out of the workplace.

Self-Management, or self-regulation, refers to the act of
taking responsibility for our emotions and how they
impact or decisions and behaviors.

The competency of self-management has six different skill attributes:

  • Self-Control
  • Trustworthiness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Adaptability
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Initiative

5.2 Self-Control

Self-control is the ability to refrain from knee-jerk reactions in response to your emotions. It is the ability to stop and think before acting, and to pause and consider the best course of action in the present situation. It involves knowing what is important to you, what isn’t, and how that will translate into your actions and behavior.

 Self-Control is the ability to refrain from knee-jerk reactions in response to your emotions. It requires the ability to stop and to the act of taking responsibility for our emotions and how they impact or decisions and behaviors.

Did you ever here the old ‘count to ten’ advice when you are really upset? That advice is about self-control and making sure that what you are about to do or say is in your best interest and the best interest of the people around you. The tools you’ll learn here are also designed to help you focus on what the best choice to make is – not necessarily the immediate one.

5.2.1 Reflection

One way to enhance your self-control is to reflect on why you feel out of control in the first place. Researchers have found that all major emotional reactions tend to stem from two main emotions – desire and fear. The degree to which we will be affected by these fears is a very individual characteristic. It is based on our values or what is important to us in life.

For example, if we value family, we will react strongly to fears that threaten our family or our relationships with them. We will also react strongly to desires that would improve our family relationships, make them happy, or improve their quality of life. We might feel angry if we got our vacation time cut-not because of the vacation itself but because of the fear of upsetting our family and the desire to spend time enhancing our relationship with them. Take a look at Figure 3 for more examples of how fear and desire might be manifest in emotional state.

Reflection helps you identify where your strong reaction is coming from based on the things that we value most in life.

Fears Desires
     Fear of disapproval      Desire for wealth
     Fear of rejection      Desire for happiness
     Fear of failure      Desire for success
     Fear of losing control      Desire for acceptance
     Fear of dying      Desire for approval
     Fear of losing our jobs      Desire for security
     Fear of offending others      Desire for certainty
     Fear of being alone      Desire for pleasure
     Fear of pain      Desire for power
     Fear of uncertainty      Desire for growth

Figure 5: The Basic Emotions of Fear and Desire

When you understand the fear or desire that is driving your strong reaction, you can understand why you are having the strong emotional response that you are experiencing. You can then employ the tool of reflection to determine how serious the situation is, what your best option is, and what you need in order to choose that option. To help you reflect, take a moment to reflect by asking yourself questions such as:

  • Is this situation really a threat?

Our knee-jerk reaction may be an over-reaction. Take a moment to determine whether or not there is really a threat to something you value. Is the severity of your reaction truly warranted?

  • What action would be best in this situation?

Identify the action or behavior that would be best in the situation. It might be taking a break, taking a walk, having a conversation with the other person (or people) involved, apologizing, calming down and then coming back to listen, or it might be just walking away. By identifying what you should do, you are also identifying what you shouldn’t do!

  • What do I need in order to be able to take that action?

Do you need more time? More information? Do you need to de-stress? You don’t want to attempt to take the right action if you aren’t in the right mindset or don’t have all the tools you need in order to be successful.

5.2.2 Refraining

Another tool involves using refraining in order to alter your self-talk around the situation. With strong emotional reactions often come strong self-talk messages. You might say to yourself many negative, counter-productive things such as:

Retraining helps you alter your reaction to your emotions
by changing your self-talk.

  • I can’t believe I did that-I’m so stupid!
  • I’m never going to get this done – I’m going to be in trouble.
  • That’s it, I can’t take it anymore!
  • This place is just awful.
  • No one cares what I think around here.
  • I’m done trying. Let them figure it out themselves.
  • That’s the last time I try being nice to her.

These statements aren’t helpful to you – in fact, they can be harmful. If you allow these initial emotional reactions drive your behavior, you will give up, quit, suffer, get angry, pout, stop contributing, or damage relationships. Instead, you can learn to reframe your self-talk so that it becomes productive and will lead to productive action. For example, alternatives to the phrases above might be:

  • I made an honest mistake. That’s frustrating, but I can certainly fix it.
  • I need to focus on the priorities and ask for help.
  • I need to take a break so my frustration doesn’t prevent me from doing a good job.
  • I’m not in a good mood today.
  • My ideas aren’t always the ones chosen. Perhaps I need to get feedback on that last idea.
  • Let me make sure I have fully understood the goal. What can I do to help get us there?
  • She might be someone who doesn’t want a friendly relationship with me, and that’s ok.

5.2.3 Rehearsal

If you’ve taken time to reflect and you now have an action that is productive in mind, you are ready to take that action. But you might still have some anxiety about exactly how you will perform the action.

A good tool to use is to rehearse your action and behavior in your mind.

Consider how you would like the action to take place in detail. For example, if you are going to see someone else, what would be the best environment? Will you sit or stand? How will you start the conversation? What should your body language look like? What about your facial expression? What are the important points that you need to make, or what are the key pieces of information that you need to get? If it is helpful, you can write an outline or list in order to assist you with your rehearsal.

Or, rehearsal can be used when you know that you are going to be in a situation that tends to ‘push your buttons.’ For example, perhaps you have one colleague whose tendency to whine really gets on your nerves. What can you do next time to help your emotions and resulting actions remain productive? Rehearsal will help you be prepared so that you are ready with your new response the next time you find yourself in that situation.

5.3 Trustworthiness

In our society, we all tend to be over committed. We tend to say yes to more things than we can actually do, and then we end up having to give up some of them. Or, we agree to certain work assignments that we then can’t do to our best ability because we just don’t have the time. Self-management involves being trustworthy in the sense that you will be honest about what you are and are not capable of doing.

 Trustworthiness in the sense of self-management means
that you will do what you say and that you are honest
about what you can and cannot do

Another way to think about trustworthiness is to think of integrity. In the simplest terms, it means acting in a way that is aligned with your values. So if you say that you value your job, trustworthiness would result in you doing the best job that you possibly can. If you say that you value your relationships with others, trustworthiness would mean that you don’t gossip, you value their opinions and feelings, and you act accordingly. If you value honesty, then you display honesty.

But how does this relate to our emotions? If you trust yourself, you can trust that you will respond to your emotions by doing what is best for you in the given situation. And others can trust that even if your first emotion is a knee-jerk reaction, your values will hold sway in the end and you will do what is right in the situation. Trustworthiness is what gets you through the moments between experiencing the first knee-jerk reaction emotion and being able to enact your self-management tools.

5.4 Conscientiousness

We all know what conscientiousness means. But as it relates to self-management and emotional intelligence, it means that you remain alert and committed to the practice of self-management, and it means that you take responsibility for your own emotions. It means that you take responsibility for your work and the quality that you produce, even if your emotional reactions are strong.

 Conscientiousness means staying committed to the
process of emotional self-management and that you take
full responsibility for your emotions

For example, when you are not being conscientious, you might say things like:

  • They made me so angry.
  • He really upset me.
  • She just really irritated me.

Where is the responsibility in those statements? It is placed on the other people. But when you are being conscientious, you would say instead:

  • I am angry.
  • I am upset.
  • I am irritated.

The other person might have been the impetus for the reaction, but only you are responsible for what happens next. By taking conscientious ownership of your emotions, you suddenly have options. You aren’t at the mercy of others – you are in control. This gives you the power to decide what you do or say next.

5.5 Adaptability

The easiest definition of adaptability is that it describes someone who doesn’t allow feelings about change to become the source of emotional and performance roadblocks. The fact is, things always change. People leave organizations, budgets get cut and positions get eliminated, divisions reorganize and duties get reassigned. And those are only the internal changes – external changes like the economy, popular trends, and technological developments are just a few examples of changes that impact our work. So being adaptable will be a skill you are guaranteed to need at some point in your career.

It can be particularly difficult to practice self-management
in times of change. But adaptability means you don’t let
your feelings about change become the source of
emotional and performance roadblocks

In order to develop this skill, you will need to be able to identify why change might be causing a negative emotional response. For example, let’s say that you get reassigned from one sales team to another. Why might that cause you to have negative reactions? Some possibilities are:

  • Fear of not getting along with the new boss or colleagues
  • Fear of not having customer accounts that are as lucrative
  • Fear of losing your status as a ‘top performer’
  • Fear of not being granted the privileges that your old boss did

Obviously, these are just suggestions – every situation will be different. But once you understand why you might be resisting the changes that you face, you can choose to handle it properly by addressing the fears or other feelings you have. You will become more adaptable the more that you practice using this and other tools of self-management.

5.6 Achievement Orientation

When you are successfully self-managing, you are able to choose the actions and behaviors that will drive your goal achievement or the goal achievement of the team. People who are strong in this skill do things such as:

  • Determine what is important and prioritize accordingly
  • Keep their pride from getting in the way of their actions
  • Continually look for actions that will move them towards the goal and avoid those that won’t
  • Delay gratification when necessary
  • Do any job that is needed, even if it is ‘beneath them’
  • Take care of themselves in order to perform at their best
  • Admit it when they have a problem
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Reward themselves for achieving the goal

 When you are successful at self-management, you can
choose the actions that will help move you towards your

5.7 Initiative

The final skill involved in self-management is initiative. People who have a high level of initiative in the sense of emotional intelligence are those that look for ways to continually develop themselves. They recognize that in order to be truly happy, they have to take responsibility for their lives.

Initiative means looking for ways to continually develop
yourself and recognizing that true happiness comes from
taking full responsibility for your life.

That may involve making lifestyle changes, getting more education, learning new skills, developing new habits, or any other action that will help them to improve the quality of their life. They don’t blame others or the universe for their problems, they look for their own role in their current situation, and they accept responsibility for making any necessary changes. They look forward to taking the next step on their path of development because they have experienced the positive benefits that have come from what they have already achieved, and they want more.

They also take initiative in problem-solving and conflict resolution. They don’t allow disagreements to fester or misunderstandings to linger. They take the necessary actions to clear away negative emotions that are stopping or hindering them, and they take action to prevent further similar occurrences.

6. Social Awareness

6.1 Introduction

The first two competencies we have examined were personal – they related to emotions of the self. The second two competencies are social because they relate to understanding and working with the emotions of others.

The first two competencies, self awareness and self-
management, were personal because they dealt with your
emotions. The next two competencies are social because
they relate to understanding and working with the
emotions of others.

Social awareness is the ability to perceive and understand the social relationships and structures in which you and those around you are operating. It involves being able to understand how other people are feeling – and validating those feelings. It requires being able to recognize relationships and structures within your organization or your social networks. And it means understanding that individual happiness is dependent upon assisting others to achieve their own happiness as well.

The three skills comprising this competency are:

  • Empathy
  • Organizational Awareness
  • Service Orientation

6.2 Empathy

Showing empathy can sometimes be one of the most difficult EI competencies to experience, particularly if you are in a heated debate or argument with the other person. But showing empathy is a core EI social awareness skill because it allows you to get in the place of another person and see the argument or situation from their side. When you do, you gain understanding of why a person feels or behaves the way they do and what is motivating that feeling or behavior. Then and only then can you employ the other EI tools in order to influence or manage the emotions and behaviors of others.

Empathy can be one of the most challenging El competencies
because it requires you to seek to truly understand the position
of the other person. This can be particularly difficult if you don’t
agree with what the other person feels.

People who have experienced emotional extremes due to their experiences in life are more likely to already be emphatic because they know what such a large range of emotions feel like. When we say that a person can relate to us, we mean that they understand how we feel because they have experienced something similar and felt similar emotions.

But if you haven’t experienced this breadth of emotions, you may find empathy more challenging. In some cases, you might not be in touch enough with your own emotions to be able to accurately identify the emotions of others. Yet as you grow in your own emotional intelligence, you can practice showing empathy until it becomes just habitual.

6.2.1 Awareness and Acknowledgement

To begin practicing empathy, you simply need to become aware of other people’s emotions. Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on other people to tell us how they are feeling. Think about the standard greetings in the workplace. Usually one person says something like, ‘hello, how are you?’ and the other person responds with a ‘fine’ or a ‘good’ and a thank you, no matter how they are actually feeling. So how do you become aware of others’ emotions then?

Awareness and acknowledgement don’t require
agreement, but they do allow you to understand and
validate the other person’s feelings.

You will need to use some other tools to attempt to discover how the other person is feeling. This is easy when the person is very emotionally expressive because you can usually tell from their body language, their facial expression, or their other non-verbal cues. But for others, you will need to ask questions, read between the lines of what they are saying, and use trial and error until you get to the point where you understand how they are feeling. You could use some questions such as:

  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • I think I hear you saying that you feel is that right?
  • I seem to be sensing some reservations about this idea – can you tell me about that?
  • What would it take for you to feel comfortable with this decision?

Once you have a grasp on how someone is feeling, you need to acknowledge their feelings. Acknowledgment doesn’t have to mean agreement – it means that you are recognizing the other person’s position and empathizing with it. By doing so, you show that you are sensitive to how they feel and you value their feelings. You can use statements like:

  • I can understand why you would be upset by that.
  • I can see that you are very uncomfortable with the decision.
  • I know you have hesitations, and that you only want us to be successful.
  • I hear the concern in what you are saying and I appreciate it.
  • I haven’t experienced what you are feeling before, but I can imagine how difficult it is.
  • Thank you for sharing that with me – I’m glad to learn how you are feeling.

6.2.2 Sensitivity

There is a major mistake that you can make at this point in the process, so you will want to be careful that you don’t do it. You never want to invalidate someone’s feelings. Even if you don’t agree with the way that they feel, sensitivity requires that you acknowledge their right to feel that way. You do not want to destroy the relationship building that you have done by suddenly invalidating the other person’s feelings. Be sure to avoid diminishing, belittling, ignoring, judging, or rejecting the other person’s feelings. For example, you want to avoid saying things like:

  • I understand how you’re feeling, but I think you just don’t understand.
  • I can understand how you feel that way, but you’re wrong.
  • I appreciate what you are telling me, but I think you’re really off-base.

Instead, your goal is to work to truly understand why someone is feeling that way. In you a work relationship, their resistance to an idea could be indicative of an area of the decision that you haven’t yet taken into consideration. In other words, treat the other person’s feelings as information that you need to process. Here are some suggestions on how to help glean the information that their emotions may be telling us.

  • Why do you think you feel that way?
  • Is there a particular aspect of the project (idea, decision) that makes you feel that way?
  • What is it that you need to help handle your concern?
  • I understand that you feel this way, but can you still support the group in the decision?

Just as your own emotions are key to being self-aware, empathy for the emotions of others is key to exercising social awareness.

6.3 Organizational Awareness

If empathy helps you understand the emotions and feelings of an individual, organizational awareness helps you to understand the culture within which those emotions operate. It involves recognizing that there are influences on yourself and others that come from the other people that you are surrounded by.

Organizational awareness refers to recognizing and
understanding how the organizational structures in which you
and others operate can influence emotions.

In the professional arena, you could gain some level of understanding by doing basic research on the company itself. What is it s mission? What are the values? What are the department’s goals? Are there specific goals expected of each team member? What is the culture of the organization?

For example, the culture of your organization may be very conservative and controlled such that emotional expression is looked upon as inappropriate. In another organization, you might be admired and encouraged for being expressive. Or there might be a very hierarchical structure to your organization so that those you supervise might feel uncomfortable telling you how they feel.

Or, the organization structure itself might be driving some feelings in the people you are working with. For example, they may feel frustrated in their current position and feel that there isn’t anywhere else for them to move or grow to, which could be manifesting itself in anger or disappointment. Or a change in organizational structure could have them feeling anxious about their future. These are all areas where you might find clues to how the person is feeling.

6.4 Service Orientation

The final skill of the social awareness aspect of EI is service orientation. It builds upon the other social awareness skills because once you have empathy for a person’s situation and you understand the influences they are under from the organizational structures they participate in, you are ready to begin assisting the person by providing insights and suggestions that are for the best interest of the other person.

For example, let’s say you have an employee who is not performing well anymore. You have a conversation with him where you explore his feelings about what is going on. You discover that he is no longer feeling challenged in the current position. You use your questioning skills to determine that he is feeling ignored and that the organization doesn’t care about developing him.

So with your empathy for his feelings and your awareness of the organization in which you both are operating, you could:

  • Develop a training plan so you can eventually give him new responsibilities
  • Help him identify areas in his existing job where he could increase his performance level so he feels challenged
  • Ask him to help train new employees
  • Suggest other development opportunities he may not be aware of
  • Support his efforts to get additional education

Think for a moment about the performance you would get from this employee in responding to his feelings with this type of service orientation rather than ignoring or belittling his feelings or judging him as a poor employee. Although you are considering his needs and helping him achieve his goals, you also benefit by ending up with an employee who is now not only motivated, but who feels valued and understood by his boss. It’s truly a win-win situation.

7. Social Skills

7.1 Introduction

Whereas social awareness is the competency through which you become aware of emotions of others, how the organizational structure can affect them, and how you can have an impact on their feelings through service orientation, social skills are those that you have access to when participating in relationships with others. You could say that if social awareness offers understanding of others, social skills offer means of interacting with others that help boost productivity, improve relationships, and increase your general quality of life.

Social skills can also be called ‘people skills’. People who have high levels of this competency are:

  • Easy to talk to
  • Good team players
  • Good at resolving disputes
  • Excellent communicators
  • Focused on helping others
  • Skilled at building relationships

There are eight skills that are associated with EI social skills. These are:

  • Influence
  • Leadership
  • Developing Others
  • Communication
  • Change Catalyst
  • Conflict Management
  • Building Bonds
  • Teamwork and Collaboration

7.2 Influence

Influence is the ability to have an impact on others and their decision-making. The social skill of influence occurs when a person is seen as:

  • Being ‘in the know’
  • Having superior experience or information
  • Having positive intentions
  • A leader
  • Trustworthy
  • Having integrity
  • Willing to share opportunities for development and credit

What is different about influence in the light of emotional intelligence is that you use your influence to help others help themselves. You are not trying to ‘get’ something out of someone by influencing them. You are simply attempting to help them to develop in whatever way is best for achieving their goals and desires. Emotional intelligence and all of your awareness of what others’ need and want is what keeps influence from devolving into manipulation.

Those with a highly developed skill of influence are able to:

  • Win people over
  • Build consensus and support
  • Make effective points by addressing what is important to the other person
  • Help others take productive, goal-based action

7.3 Leadership

Influence and leadership are related, in that you cannot lead someone without influencing them in some way. Like influence, leadership is not restricted to hierarchical positions. A director or supervisor depends somewhat on his or her title or position in order to lead. Others are expected to follow simply because of the difference in position between them.

Yet leaders can be found anywhere in an organization – especially EI leaders. They can be at the bottom rung of the organizational ladder and still be able to perform their job in a way that has their co-workers following along after their example.

We’ve already learned that those with strong EI skill are top leaders. That’s because they know how to work with people, keep the peace, use resources wisely, share the credit, and support and develop their people. But as it relates to emotional intelligence, leadership involves appealing to and managing the emotions of others in order to get the job done. They can:

  • Help others become enthusiastic about the vision and mission of the organization
  • Take on a leadership role when they see the need, no matter what their position
  • Guide others’ performance
  • Hold others accountable
  • Lead by example

7.4 Developing Others

As we’ve said in the sections on influence and leadership, one of the best indicators of emotional intelligence is the willingness and ability of a person to help develop others. If you are a leader, imagine if you were to judge your leadership ability based on how many of your people got promoted to other divisions or to more responsible positions. Or if you judged your own performance based on the performance of each employee?

What kind of work environment would that be? What would it do to your productivity if every employee knew that you had their future development in mind when assigning work, assessing criticism, or managing projects?

Those who have this aspect of EI are aware that they can develop others in tandem with developing themselves. They are confident enough in themselves and their own abilities that they will not be threatened by the success of others. They recognize that helping others to achieve their goals is a win-win situation: it makes them feel connected to and invested in others, which in turn enhances a sense of belonging and teamwork.

7.5 Communication

This skill is a vital one for all of the other EI competencies. Communication is how you learn, and learning is how you become aware. Communication is how you resolve conflicts, help develop others, and how you understand the other person’s point of view. Every interaction we have with others involves some form of communication, and those that are adept at it will also be better at forming lasting bonds and building trust.

In the sense of EI, those who are effective communicators are able to ‘tune in’ to the emotions of others and then use that information to help influence the other person to choose the best course of action. Those with this skill can also use emotional cues to ‘speak’ to what is important for the other person. They listen well and can recreate the message they heard with accuracy so that the other person agrees that the message received is what was sent.

Other features of this skill include:

  • Effective at give and take
  • Good at compromising
  • Seek mutual understanding
  • Deal with difficult issues head-on
  • Welcome open and frank discussion
  • Are receptive to good and bad news
  • Don’t let disagreements become roadblocks to further communication

7.6 Change Catalyst

A person who is a change catalyst is not satisfied with doing things the way they’ve always been done simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. She is forward-thinking and open to change as a way of improving herself, helping others to improve, helping organizations to improve, or customers to improve. In general, she understands that change is part of life and part of remaining competitive.

She recognizes that change often brings up fear in people, and may even do so in herself. Yet she does not allow the fear of change to prevent the necessary changes from being made. She is able to understand how those who are resistant feel and to work through those fears with them. Other features of someone with the skill of a change catalyst are:

  • Recognizes when change is needed
  • Removes barriers to change
  • Challenges the status quo
  • Champions the needed change
  • Influences other so champion the needed change
  • Models the change for others

7.7 Conflict Management

Those skilled in conflict management are able to recognize that conflict can be an opportunity. It can help individuals or a work group to:

  • Solve problems
  • Improve processes
  • Heal rifts
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Learn new skills

Of course, managing conflict well requires a great deal of emotional intelligence. You must be able to discover the root of the conflict. For example, a conflict that appears to be over how to word a new advertisement may actually be due to one or both of the parties involved feeling as if their input is not valued. You must be able to understand the perspective of the parties involved, and to help the parties understand each other. You must be able to manage communication in a way that is positive and productive and you must be able to identify and foster win-win situations.

Conflict management is a challenging skill to develop because it requires that you experience conflict in order to do so. You may even need to bring conflicts to light that others would rather leave in the dark. However, conflict-management is a skill that will be invaluable to you as you develop it, and will make you a better leader, co-worker, and even parent, spouse, or friend.

  • To improve your conflict management skills, some suggestions include:
  • Setting ‘ground rules’ for how the discussion will happen
  • Asking questions to get to the root of the conflict
  • Allowing each person to share their feelings and perspective without judgment
  • Using your listening skills and clarifying questions to ensure each party’s position has been properly understood
  • Encouraging brainstorming for solutions
  • Rating solutions based on agreed-upon criteria
  • Fostering consensus on a solution

7.8 Building Bonds

Improving emotional intelligence will naturally enhance your ability to build bonds because your people skills, communication skills, and self-confidence will all be enhanced. But if you focus on building bonds, you will be creating a type of social network that will increase both the number and type of relationships that you are able to create.

  • Those who have this skill make concerted efforts to:
  • Make friends at work
  • Cultivate large networks of acquaintances, professional contacts, and friends
  • Spend time developing mutually beneficial relationships
  • Work on building rapport
  • Keep others informed
  • If you build this skill, you will start to see relationships not just as things that ‘happen,’ but as bonds that you can proactively build. You will also have better quality relationships if you are also practicing your other emotional intelligence skills.

7.9 Teamwork and Collaboration

This skill requires that you develop a view of teams as something that need nurturing. Like an individual, a team needs to be attended to if it is going to function at its best. The person with this EI skill also understands that collaboration is a powerful took for decision making, relationship building, and creating a pleasant and productive work environment.

  • People with this skill:
  • Remember to focus on relationships as well as tasks
  • Share information and resources to foster collaboration
  • Promote a climate of friendship and cooperation
  • Find ways for all members of the team to bring their strengths to the table
  • Build a team identity and foster team pride
  • Have the expectation that team members support and help each other
  • Seek opportunities to build the team’s abilities

8. Resources

Cherniss, Cary. The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence. Consortium for Research on Emotional

Intelligence in Organizations. http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports/business_case_for_ei.html.

Crompton, Mike. April, 2010. Improving Self-Awareness Increases Your Emotional Intelligence.



CRM Today. Managing the Support Center with Emotional Intelligence.


Culver, Dick. A Review of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: Implications for Technical

Education. http://fie-conference.Org/fie98/papers/l 105.pdf.

Hein, S. EQI.org. Emotional Intelligence articles, various, http://eqi.org/eitoc.htm.

National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. Goleman’s EI Competencies.

http://www.nps.gov/training/tel/Guides/Golem ans_EI_Competencies.pdf

Webhome.idirect.com. Emotional Intelligence & Emotional Competence.


Wikipedia.org. Emotional Intelligence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence.


Emotional Intelligence

© 2010 MTD Training & Ventus Publishing ApS

ISBN 978-87-7681-600-1

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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is the Founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter himself. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in a search and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

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You Need to Be Able to Close

By on Mar 28,2024

In this article Harrison explains why the ability to close a sale is the most important skill in selling. Many people may get consumers interested in their products and lead them to the edge of making the sale, but it is the final push where the customer makes the actual purchasing decision which is the most important. Similarly it is good to be able to secure an interview, but what actually counts is the ability to push the employer to make the final hiring decision. There are a million possible closing techniques ranging from using the power of money and the power of issuing a deadline to identifying with a particular cause that could be important to the employer. All you need to do is tap into your instinctual ability and push employers that extra bit to ensure you get the job.

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