Emotional Intelligence needs to be more than a buzz word. Emotional Intelligences needs to be more than the behaviors of empathy. True E.I. comes from the heart. It stems from genuinely being curious about yourself, being aware of the inner world of your emotions and authentically caring about others.
Yes, your day is overly busy. Yes, it does take time to connect with people in a meaningful, emotionally intelligent way, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Once you are accustomed to practicing emotional intelligence, the rewards to you, to the productivity and profitability of your organization are unmeasurable!
A client recently talked about feeling “betrayed” to realize that her manager, whom she had initially thought was a caring person, was a very self-serving person and did not, in fact, care about her employees beyond how they made her (the manager) look. Initially, my client had been deeply touched that her manager had sent her flowers upon hearing of the death of a family member. After months of working closely together, my client realized that her manager was “a Narcissist” (her word) and did not truly care about her or any of her direct reports. My client recognized the flowers were but a delegation to her Admin and meant nothing more than that to her manager.
This manager had learned the behaviors of Emotional Intelligence without learning true emotional intelligence.
What’s involved in having and displaying emotional intelligence?
First, you need to learn about your own emotions. Get comfortable with them. Respect your feelings. They are your valid guide to register your uniquely human experience of life and your interactions.Your feelings don’t make you “right” in an interaction; they tell you about your interpretation and feelings about an experience or interaction.
When you touch a hot stove, it is very functional to feel “Ouch!” That sensation helps you know to move your hand – quickly. Without awareness
of that sensation, you would burn your hand badly. Emotions work much the same as that. They guide us.
Secondly, learn to put yourself in someone else’s skin. At first this may take some time, but with practice it can become second nature. Listen closely to someone else talk about their experience – of anything. Think about what that must have been like for them. Think how you would feel in that situation. Listen to what they say about how they felt in that situation. Linger there for just a moment.
Thirdly, let the other person know that you heard them or have thought about their experience and their feelings. Take two minutes to talk to them about their issue of concern. If it’s a significant life issue, follow up with them. Make sure you take a moment to prep yourself so that its’ not just another thing to check off your to-do list. Make sure you mean it.
Non-Emotionally Intelligent employees may not know the difference. Emotionally Intelligent employees will know when you don’t mean it. With them, pretending to care when you don’t may come back to hurt you.
Successfully utilizing emotional intelligence has numerous payoffs for your organization. Employees will have higher levels of engagement and motivation. In organizations that value E.I. and model it from the top down, employee retention is higher, employees trust each other, they engage in deeper dialogue, which leads to more effective problem solving and business opportunities.
In our overly hectic days it’s tempting to think we don’t have the time for this. Yet the reality is we can’t afford not to take the time for these essential human interactions. Your team, your managers and others will eagerly go the extra mile for you and for your organization when they understand that you genuinely care about them as multifaceted human beings.
They may even care about you in return.