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Daniel Goleman has coined a well-known definition of emotional intelligence:

Emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”.

eqWhat does this actually mean in practice? Whilst it’s widely agreed that having an emotionally intelligent approach at work is a positive thing, the tools to actually be more emotionally intelligent are often non existent or difficult to conceptualise and use.

The 5 dimensions of emotional intelligence are:

  • Self awareness

Being aware of your emotions and their significance

  • Managing emotions

Being able to control and re-direct inappropriate emotions

  • Motivation

Being able to channel emotions effectively to accomplish goals

  • Empathy

The ability to understand the emotional make up of other people

  • Social skills

Proficiency in managing relationships

So how do we engage these elements to become more emotionally intelligent?


Key 1. Gain a deeper level of self-awareness

Ask for feedback from colleagues that you trust and respect. You can do this by saying that you’d like to gain a more realistic view of how you’re perceived at work and would be grateful for 1 or 2 insights from them. Aim to give them some time to reflect on your question rather than wanting the answer immediately and be understanding if they refuse.

You might also use a 360 questionnaire – be prepared to be open to the feedback you receive – it may be quite an eye opener!

self awareness

Key 2. Identify your emotional triggers

Part of being emotionally intelligent is the ability to remain calm under pressure and think through the consequences of your actions rather than flying off the handle or falling prey to negative thought patterns. In order to do this we need to identify the potential triggers that cause us to react emotionally. It may be time pressure or sloppy workmanship from others.

If we can identify our triggers we are in a much stronger position to then be able to put strategies in place to counter them. This maybe making sure we plan effectively to alleviate time pressure issues or taking some deep breaths before providing feedback on sloppy workmanship so that the feedback is constructive and not accusatory.


Key 3. Think optimistically

Optimistic thinking is one of the elements that keeps people on track, it provides resilience; the ‘bounce back’ factor. Being able to find a silver lining in any situation is essential to motivation.

We often get caught up in thinking de-motivating thoughts that prevent us from performing at our best. There’s a useful technique known as re-framing that can help us switch focus.

Rather than thinking “I hate budgets, they’re so time consuming” for example, try and re-frame it into something a little more inspiring like “Budgets are an opportunity to show the business what we can do” By doing this we feel more motivated to perform.

  happy face

Key 4. Take time to gain perspective

We often get so tied up in our own thoughts, needs, wants and objectives that we don’t take the time to really understand other people’s perspectives. This can lead to deadlock, damaged relationships and ill feeling.

Instead, make an effort to use good quality open questions to gain a deeper understanding of a situation from another’s perspective so that you can work better together.

For example you may like a task performed in a particular way but by asking why the other person does it differently and what they see the benefits to be, you will not only gain a different perspective but there may actually be some value in their ideas.

EQ quote

 Key 5. Ensure you communicate clearly

Communication is a minefield and we need to be conscious of the way we communicate with others – are we using the appropriate body language? Are we being clear about objectives? Are we really paying attention when people talk to us? Can we be better listeners? Can we be more concise in our communication?

Ensure you take time, even for just 30 minutes a day, to hone an element of your social skills in order to communicate with others more effectively.

communication 1

By doing some of these simple but key actions we can all become more emotionally intelligent.


Related Tag: Emotional Intelligence Programs Perth