When I tell people, I have a background in organizational psychology, they tell me “Oh so you are not a therapist, you don’t deal with people?” I then consider it my civic duty to remind them that organizations are made of people. It is the people that form an organization, its culture, values, communication pattern, and everything about it.
Emotional intelligence is a hot topic today and many organizations are embracing its importance. I have met a lot of people in the real and online world wanting to ‘increase’ their emotional intelligence. Before I say anything more, I would like to define emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of when you bring out your emotions and realize how your emotions affect others. A person with higher emotional intelligence in the overall score can recognize the feeling and perceptions of others that will help manage their emotions accordingly.
What is fascinating about emotional intelligence is that it can be modified unlike your IQ and don’t worry, increasing your EQ will not lower your IQ. Phew!
As a coach, I have stumbled upon this issue where people are good at their job and they get promoted to Directorial and VP level but fail to perform as effectively as a leader thereafter. This is when they are in the limelight of the CEOs and their employees. A person in this position can become vulnerable if their emotional intelligence is considerably low, even if their IQ is very high. If they have been using the left side of their brain, which is the logical and analytical side their whole life, then it is possible that the emotional intelligence score may be low and they are struggling in their job despite being promoted.
I have seen many articles online on how to increase your emotional intelligence. Whilst these are great resources, and there is nothing wrong per se with the information provided, it is difficult for a person who has none to little knowledge on EQ to act upon this information and be consistent. They will relapse to their old self because of a lack of self-awareness to modify their personality. Needless to say, increasing your composite scales of EQ may not always be a good idea. It all depends on your personality traits, what you do for a living, and numerous other factors that constitute you as a person. If the materials you read online and tests you take are not statistically valid and reliable without anyone to interpret your data, it may lead to confusion and sheer misperception.
Why should we care about our EQ?
Let’s say Nancy (not real name) has a high IQ but barely waits for her turn to speak, outbursts her feelings and opinions instead of listening for clarity in the conversation. She has an urge to react instead of responding gently to a conflict. What is important for her is that her opinion is put out for people. This shows a lack of self-awareness on how she is behaving in a social setting and a severe blind spot in her self-awareness. People who converse with her may avoid her in meetings and other social settings. Some may praise her tremendously so she avoids conflict with them. Nancy’s lack of self-awareness may lead to her falling for these fake praises. But if we look at this scenario from Nancy’s perspective, she is unaware that she is doing anything wrong and may even wonder at times why people avoid her.
Nancy is not alone. Many white-collared professionals in their workplace setting may not understand how to lead a team or why their team members do not respect their leadership. Many of us have blind spots that we could fine-tune. Nancy’s is an example of low self-awareness. Others may have a low or very high flexibility that has affects their professional and personal life. I have spoken to many clients in the corporate setting who came to me not knowing how to respond to people’s comments or behavior. Waiting too long with issues at the workplace and your lack of enthusiasm to get professional help can lead to making things harder than it is or you just losing everything that you have worked hard for.
People hesitate to get help for various reasons. But not reaching out for help at the right time can have consequences on your leadership, team impact, and overall presence in the workplace. People who have a vision know when to invest in themselves wisely.
Hamna Siddique is a career and leadership coach focusing on confidence and personal development.
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