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Emotional Intelligence for Career Growth

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As defined by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, emotional intelligence is “the rudder for feeling, thinking, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making” and is related to a person’s ability to judge and control their own emotional reactions. The greater your ability to identify and understand your own and others’ emotions and to regulate your emotional response, the greater your emotional intelligence (EI). Moreover, just thinking that you are emotionally intelligent can lead you to act in emotionally intelligent ways.

EI alerts you when your current actions are failing to give you the satisfaction, results, and relationships that you hoped. It stands at the cross-roads of high and low resiliency and of greater and less ability to cope with stress; directs you to the SMaRT techniques that allow you to adjust your goals and the path toward them.

Upside of Emotional Intelligence 

Unlike your intelligence quotient, which is relatively stable throughout your life, emotional intelligence can be honed and is an even greater factor in success. When the company Talentsmart tested EI against 33 other workplace skills, they found that EI is responsible for well over 50% of your job performance and that every point of increase in EI adds over $1,000 more to your annual pay. 

As you increase your self-awareness overall, you increase your emotional intelligence. If you ignore the role of emotions at work, you are ignoring one of the basic elements in any decision-making or problem-solving process, attempt at crisis management, or difficult conversation. For example, in making decisions, you have to take into account your own attitudes toward risk or you will act too rashly or too conservatively and ignore warnings from others. Even in asking for a pay raise, EI helps you judge your audience, find the perfect moment to ask, and deal with the consequences.

Paying attention to other people and the understanding their emotions allows you to put the proper weight on their opinions, recommendations, and priorities. You must, for example, take into account how other people feel about different types of motivation when you try to motivate them so that you use the right “carrot” to achieve the right results. 

Downside of Emotional Intelligence

Recent researchers have found that high EI can sometimes lead to intense internalization of problems, especially under stress, greater emotional vulnerability, or even depression as the person continually ruminates on their emotional state. High EI is also associated with compassion fatigue and a slower recovery from stressful situations, especially after contact with an emotional manipulator. In fact, depending on the way it interacts with other personality traits, high EI can become a way to manipulate others.

Embracing Emotional Intelligence

If you want to develop an emotionally intelligent team or organization, you must:

  • Develop your own emotional intelligence. If you use your EI to manipulate others rather than taking their feelings into account, you will undermine the team—most people recognize manipulation when they see it, even if they miss it when they experience it.
  • Embrace differences. While EI is found at approximately the same level in men and women and across generations, it does vary according to the region of the world. Different cultures place their own value on self-awareness and have their own ways of measuring effective leadership or membership in a team.
  • Reward initiative. Because EI is often associated with heightened risk aversion, compassion fatigue, and internalization, failure can be devastating unless it is accepted as one of the roads to success.
  • Develop trust and accountability. An environment of trust allows emotions to be acknowledged and accountability makes each individual responsible for managing their own emotions individually and as part of the team.

Emotional intelligence can be learned and improved with SmaRT techniques for growing mindfulness and self-awareness. It may also help to have a professional evaluation and assistance as you work toward better stress management, communication, empathy with others, and leadership skills in your personal and professional life.

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