By Paula Lau
I picked up my phone in my office one day to be met by an explosion of emotion. “If you transfer me to one more person, I will absolutely scream!” The distressed woman had been on the phone with one college representative after another and hadn’t been able to get the information she needed. As I listened to her frustration and anxiety, I immediately put on my therapist hat to calm her down and I eventually succeeded. It turned out that she was dealing with a son who was failing classes and needed to get him into an ACT preparation class. I could empathize with her. There’s not much more that can get a parent either really angry or depressed than a child who isn’t fulfilling expectations. By the end of the call, a once-screaming woman was calm and armed with information. I said to her, “I need one last piece of information. Could you please tell me your email address?” There was momentary hesitation on the other end of the phone and then she said, “It’s Joyful mother@…” We both had a good laugh.
In recent years you may have heard the term “Emotional Intelligence” bandied about and wondered what exactly does that mean? Your EQ (or emotional quotient) is your ability to connect, communicate, and demonstrate respect to others. In a nutshell, your EQ grade will be higher based on your ability to get along well with others. So what’s your grade? Drs. Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves, authors of the Emotional Intelligence Quickbooks write, “Emotional Intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions, and your skill at using this awareness to manage yourself and your relationships with others.”
Before you run around assigning grades to the people you know and love, (and we all know someone who definitely deserves an “F”) understand that the study of EQ should be a personal reflection and endeavor. It is an important one as good EQ creates success on the job. It is interesting to note that Emotional Intelligence is by far the over-riding factor in promotions on the job and not your amazing technical skills or knowledge of your job process. In a study of competency skills looking at a variety of factors including intelligence quotient (IQ), technical skills and EQ, 75% of work competencies fall within emotional quotient ability. In other words, you may know your job, but if you don’t know people and how to get along well with them you will be frustrated over and over again in your attempts to get ahead.
One of the examples of emotional intelligence I have cited (i.e., poise, awareness of others’ needs, an ability to keep strong emotion carefully under control) to clients and audiences was when President George W. Bush received word that we were under attack on September 11, 2001. I ask audiences to imagine what would have happened had he exploded with the emotions I’m sure he was feeling at the time. Can you imagine if he had jumped up in that room full of children and screamed, “We’re under attack! We’re under attack!” Instead, his eyebrow went up and he quietly excused himself from the room. These are the kind of people you want on the job and as co-workers. Steady, dependable, and empathetic.
If you have found yourself struggling in this area and you know that you’re being passed up for promotions or continually struggling with personal relationships, you might want to take a look at a book called The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships by Jeanne Segal. She offers a variety of exercises and information to understand where your gaps may be and things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence. Be encouraged! Your EQ report card can become something you are proud to show everyone.