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What is Emotional Intelligence

In this, our first of a series on Emotional Intelligence we’ll explore the basics of this vital human intelligence and why any successful speaker and leader should master it. Fact is, we are all born with a wide array of strengths and intelligences. As we grow and mature, nature and nurture move us in a direction of growth or stagnation. Each of us is a collection of unique human intelligences that make us who we are. So of us are strong analytical thinkers, others are great at navigating human relationships, still others have a verbal capacity to communicate effortlessly. We use these skills and intelligences to navigate our relationships in work and our personal lives. Of these, none is so misunderstood than our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence or EI is our ability to recognize our emotions and that of others and use that information to guild our thinking and behavior. For years this intelligence wasn’t appreciated until the great work of many great Psychologist such as Daniel Goleman, Peter Salovey and John Mayer over the last 50 years. Today we understand the value of this intelligence and how it relates to a traditionally defined IQ and life and work outcomes. No longer is it assumed that these so called “soft skills” are without value in our lives. Great scientific consensus shows the value of EI in our success. Some interesting statistics on EI:

“IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else—including EQ.”
(Bressert, 2007)

Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in ‘human engineering,’ your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge.”

It stands to reason that no one skill is singular in driving success. Nonetheless, EI is critical among them because it helps us: understand social relationships, acknowledge our own emotions
understand others emotions, navigate them and build consensus. Doubtless practicing emotional intelligence makes us better communicators and leaders. Without this critical capacity we are rudderless in navigating the sometimes muddy waters of human relationships. Before we explore further let’s define EI in more detail:

Emotional Intelligence*

  • Self-Awareness – the ability to know one’s own emotions, strengths/weakness and drives, as well as their effect on others
  • Self-Regulation – the capacity to manage our emotional state, the ability to think before acting
  • Social Skill – a proficiency in managing relationship, finding common ground and building rapport
  • Empathy – the ability to understand & appreciate the emotions, needs and concerns of others & use them to guide our behavior
  • Motivation – a passion and persistence that guide and facilitate reaching goals

*As defined by Daniel Goleman in “What Makes A Leader.”

EI Critical Skill for Speakers & Leaders

It doesn’t take much to come to the realization that EI is a pillar or critical skill. Without we can’t solve the many social challenges we face in work and life. Study the any successful leader or speaker and you’ll find this skill is one they have mastered and actively attempt to improve. What is even more promising is that Emotional Intelligence is a learned skill. We can learn to embrace and improve it. In our next installment we will explore further the skills of Emotional Intelligence to develop & improve our skills as speakers and leaders. Until then, feel free to share the What is Emotional Intelligence Infographic below far and wide. We’d love your feedback, insights on EI. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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