I love learning and experimenting with new ways to help those who work with me rediscover their inner power and feel more empowered as female professionals to fight for the career they want and deserve.
One of the topics that fascinate me is Emotional Intelligence (EI). Some research suggests that women achieve higher scores than men on measures of emotional intelligence. I argue that both genders can have high or low emotional intelligence depending on different factors influencing the score, such as social environment, situation and context.
What is EI, after all? I summarise it as the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. And I believe this ability is critical for women who want to advance in their careers.
Below I highlight the 5 critical skills of EI suggested by psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of the book “Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships”.
1) Self-awareness – being able to identify our own emotions and how they work
How can we develop our self-awareness?
- Starting by identifying and monitoring our emotions
- Observing the impact they have on our mood, behaviours and actions
- Understanding the effect they have on other people
Tips: focus on your thoughts and emotions; keep a journal; meditate; practice mindfulness.
2) Self-regulation – managing our emotions and expressing them appropriately
- We can develop this by:
- Being mindful of our thoughts and feelings
- Reframing some of our thoughts into more positive and empowering ones
- Developing our communication skills
- Learning to be emotionally agile
- Recognising that how we respond to situations is our choice
3) Compassion (Empathy + Action)
Showing compassion towards ourselves and others. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, understanding their feelings and responding with an action that will help them. Something simple as a smile sometimes is all it takes!
4) Social skills – the skills we use to interact with others
How we approach and communicate in social interactions is a crucial element of EI, as it will help us build meaningful relationships and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
We can enhance our social skills by:
- Asking open-ended questions – those that require more than a yes or no as an answer
- Being present and actively listening
- Offering compliments generously and genuinely
- Finding icebreakers that will help start conversations
- Practising good eye contact
- Paying attention to our body language
- Practising good manners
- Showing interest in others
5) Intrinsic motivation
Emotionally intelligent people are motivated mainly by things beyond external rewards. They choose internal rewards. They decide to do something because it’s internally fulfilling, challenging, interesting, or enjoyable.
Here are a few ways we can unlock our intrinsic motivation:
- Linking our actions to a greater purpose
- Setting micro, measurable goals to move us towards our bigger goals
- Incorporating challenges to keep things interesting
- Celebrating our small and big wins
- Avoiding dependence on external rewards
- Looking for ways to have a broader positive impact on other people or the environment around us
Why is it essential to incorporate these skills into our professional lives?
- We develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and others
- We become better and more effective leaders
- We learn how to communicate more efficiently and with more confidence
- We strengthen our ability to successfully respond to stressful or conflict situations
- We cultivate self-determination and self-esteem
- We create and foster stronger relationships and a social support network.
Let’s take the time to consistently work on self-awareness, self-regulation, compassion, social skills and intrinsic motivation. Working on these areas will help us excel in our professional life!