In a recent Forbes magazine article, Mark Murphy , a NY Times bestselling author discussed emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence predicts people’s ability to regulate themselves, manage other people, and achieve success. Emotional intelligence is a fancy phrase but really it is just your interpersonal skills. Have you ever known someone who was smart, academically gifted but just kept washing out everywhere? In their relationships, their career? Chances are they did not have good interpersonal skills or emotional intelligence. There was a problem with how they behaved when they interacted with others. If you are more sensitive to how others feel then of course you will be a better friend, parent, partner or even a better manager. Let’s think about that. Emotional intelligence allows you to exhibit better control over your own actions. It allows you to interact with others in such a way that the results of that interaction are favorable to you thus resulting in you winning. What’s not to love about that?!
The following five areas are proven indicators of emotional intelligence.
They respond to criticism appropriately.
When hearing criticism, people with high emotional intelligence don’t become defensive and start attacking others. They don’t react impulsively, and they don’t dwell on the criticism obsessively. Someone with high emotional intelligence takes time to clarify their position or behavior in an effort to resolve the issue in an effort to reach a favorable result.
People with high intelligence are very self-aware.
This keen self-awareness allows them to accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses. They are confident and don’t act in ways to hide who they are to the detriment of others. Consequently, they don’t lie about weaknesses or blame when their deficits become apparent or are discovered.
People with high emotional intelligence are open-minded.
They exhibit a willingness to try new things or to hear and consider new ideas. A high level of self-awareness lets emotionally-intelligent people listen to a situation without reacting to judgment. They don’t automatically dismiss ideas or opinions just because they are different from their own. They resist the urge to react in anger or voice judgmental statements when they hear a different opinion. They have learned to adjust when they are outside their comfort zone. I once worked with a colleague who could quote the bible for any situation. I often admired how she studied her faith until an episode occurred, which to this day, I can’t wipe the sheer ugliness of it from my memory. There was a young man who was transsexual in our building. One day after she saw him, she referred to him as a “thing”. She made a few other disparaging remarks about him before I grasped what she was saying. I was totally caught off guard. I went to my office and then called hers and asked could I speak with her. While I knew I would lose any argument if I relied on my knowledge of bible scripture in comparison to hers, I simply spoke to her about the ugliness of referring to another human being as a subhuman. I reminded her that the young man was someone’s son, family member or brother. I told her should I ever become aware that she was using such language again when referring to him or acting in a discriminatory manner towards him I would lodge a complaint with Human Resources. She was shocked and I was furious. That episode years ago was a catalyst for me to check my beliefs and what I intentionally go in my brain. I don’t ever want to be a part of any religion which forces me to make judgements about others in such a way that I began to believe it’s acceptable to intentionally harm others. What I witnessed was sheer evil cloaked under the umbrella of Christianity.
People with high emotional intelligence are good listeners.
People with high emotional intelligence are fully present. They aren’t listening just to respond. They don’t jump to give advice and they ask questions. They don’t have an agenda. They separate emotions from facts and are able to focus on the facts of the particular issue. People with high emotional intelligence may purposefully remind themselves not to allow their emotion to impact their ability to truly listen. They show non-verbal cues of engagement: they look you in the eye or may nod or offer verbal cues such as saying yes, or I understand to let the speaker know they are being heard. So, when your son Andrew comes home upset because he and his girlfriend broke up. You know, the girlfriend that you don’t approve of anyway? When he talks to you about how he is feeling, you resist the urge to tell him how lucky he is to be done with that little twit’ instead you listen. Really listen and you may learn why he loved her, or you may get cues as to how best to support him during this time or you may discern the reason he was attracted to someone like her. All good information. After listening and proving what a great parent, you are, you and your BFF can high five and celebrate later.
They don’t sugarcoat the truth.
Emotional intelligence requires recognizing emotions in others, but this awareness in others doesn’t mean shying away from speaking the truth or resorting to using tricks to try and soften the blow of tough feedback. People with high emotional intelligence know how important it is that tough messages get heard. They don’t send mixed messages and are willing to have frank, uncomfortable conversations.
For example, if your friend loves basketball and asks your opinion on whether you believe their 5’1 daughter who is a high school senior, who can’t dribble, or shoot a basket and can’t play defense, will make it to the WNBA, you let her know that is not likely to happen. Tell her to encourage her daughter to develop another plan. That doesn’t mean that if your friend doesn’t hear you that you stop going to the games or listening when she shares this dream. No, you listen, and you keep going to the games. You continue to applaud her daughter loudly when she comes in off the bench. Friends with high emotional intelligence don’t sugarcoat the truth. But when folks act in ways that let you know they either didn’t hear you, or don’t agree with you, you move on. And when their daughter doesn’t make it to the WNBA and your friend is crestfallen, you act crestfallen too. Because you are a friend and you hurt when your friend hurts.
They apologize when they’re wrong.
People with high emotional intelligence don’t invest valuable time trying to prove they are right when they realize they’re wrong. Instead of looking for excuses, they offer a simple, honest apology that lets them quickly get back on track. They don’t let their error or misbehavior linger. They own their actions and words.
Hopefully these five signs offered by Murphy will help you assess if you either have or are interacting with someone with high emotional intelligence. If you assess that you do not, then that’s great information to have as you decide how to conduct yourself when interacting with others. Check these 5 signs to how you are faring with regard to emotional intelligence. That checkup may show that it’s something you may want to work on. If you determine that someone you interact with does not exhibit high emotional intelligence, then that’s good information to have also as it will help you interact more successfully with them in the future. Now that you know the signs, plot your course for future interactions and prepare to win!