I suppose it should come as no surprise that many (otherwise amazingly gifted) people have no (as in 0.0!) ability to understand the emotional state of another human being. Feelings, reactions, unspoken but still strong are just not on their radar. At least not when they’re other people’s; it’s a different story when it comes to the caring and concern the emotionally impaired expect from others.
(Curious where you fall? Here’s a quiz to help you find out.)
Emotional IQ (EQ) is something (as is the more familiar IQ) that people are born with. Experience and insight (or a nurturing environment) will make it stronger, just as reading and study do for intelligence. If you make no effort to improve it, like intelligence, EQ goes unused and wasted. You struggle and don’t know why. You’re unhappy and looking for answers.
Unlike the more familiar measure of intelligence, very few make the effort to improve what emotional intelligence they come by naturally, thinking these skills are “nice” but not essential. Turns out high emotional intelligence is what makes leaders great, companies more productive, connects people and builds lasting relationships in all areas of life.
In the interest of full disclosure, there’s a real, painful downside to a high emotional intelligence. It’s what prompted this blog post. The insights you get can be terribly personal and uncomfortable. If you get angry, you have a weapon in your hands that can wound like nothing else. You may inspire envy or dislike in less attuned people who see your caring as “fake”.
If you”re (still) interested in trying to improve your EQ, here are some tips for building your skills. A place to start. The good news is that you don’t need to be especially smart to have a high emotional IQ. Instead you simply need the ability to:
Put yourself in another’s shoes.
Put your needs aside, temporarily.
Do both before you speak or act.
See? Not so hard. Experts insist EQ can be improved by anyone, at any time, but I have (serious) doubts. You need to be able to understand and manage those emotions. Take a hard look at your own stress levels, and recognize emotions that are overwhelming. Connect with people around you. Put learning into practice.
That’s a tall order.