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How to Boost Your (and Others’) Emotional Intelligence

Source | Harvard Business Review : By Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic & Michael Sanger

Among the various core ingredients of talent and career success, few personal qualities have received more attention in the past decade than emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to identify and manage your own and others’ emotions. Importantly, unlike most of the competencies that make it into the HR zeitgeist of buzzwords, EQ is no fad.

In fact, thousands of academic studies have demonstrated the predictive power of scientific EQ assessments vis-à-vis job performance, leadership potential, entrepreneurship, and employability. Moreover, the importance of EQ has been highlighted beyond work-related settings, as higher scores have been associated with relationship success, mental and physical health, and happiness.

All this is good news for people with higher EQ. But what can those with lower scores do to improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills? Is it possible to increase your own and others’ EQ beyond its natural levels? While Goleman and other popular writers argue that (unlike IQ) EQ is malleable and trainable, EQ is really just a combination of personality traits. Accordingly, it is not set in stone; it is largely heritable, shaped by childhood experiences, and fairly stable over time.

This does not mean that the effort put toward sculpting emotionally intelligent behaviors is a waste of time. It simply means that focus and dedication is required. The same goes for helping others to act with EQ when they are not naturally inclined to do so. Here are five critical steps for developing EQ:

Turn self-deception into self-awareness. Personality, and thereby EQ, is composed of two parts: identity (how we see ourselves) and reputation (how others see us). For most people there is a disparity between identity and reputation that can cause them to ignore feedback and derail. Real self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths and weaknesses compare to others’. For instance, most people rate their own EQ highly, yet only a minority of those individuals will be rated as emotionally intelligent by others. Turning self-deception into self-awareness will not happen without accurate feedback, the kind that comes from data-based assessments such as a valid personality tests or 360-degree feedback surveys. Such tools are fundamental to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots, not least because other people are generally too polite to give us negative feedback.

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