I recently read a really (sadly) negative article about why the author was sick of emotional intelligence (EI/sometimes EQ). I am not going to send further traffic that way by citing it, but I am sure if you care enough to search it out—it won’t be difficult to find. It is disappointing to see that it has received many views to date. Perhaps there are others like me who are simply just interested to see how something positive can incite such a negative reaction. We know that negativity is a powerful emotion and that it is more contagious than positivity—I cannot imagine why anyone would seek to encourage it.

emotional_intelligenceIronically, the author cites her annoyance at hearing and reading about emotional intelligence as a fad and something that people should not be rewarded for, but be embracing already. Unfortunately, that is not an accurate view of what is really happening in the workplace and the world. I wish that were the case and I would happily change my research agenda, as well as my teaching!

After many years of working in and around topics related to emotional intelligence, or emotional and social competencies, I still find many people at each workshop or talk I give on the subject that still do not know what emotional intelligence is by definition. And of those that do know what EI is, many do not embrace the importance how these competencies relate to interpersonal relationships.

In case I need to, please allow me exclaim emphatically that interpersonal relationships are definitively the backbone of our society and our organizations. Therefore, competence in how we understand and relate to each other is essential for ongoing success. We all should care about these concepts and want to continually develop ourselves.

So, what is Emotional Intelligence? 

There are many definitions and perspectives on EI, but basically EI is an understanding of your own emotions; management of how you react/behave in response to your emotions; social awareness, including understanding how other people feel and what drives their behavior; and finally an ability to better manage our relationships based upon our understanding of ourselves and others.

EI can and should be developed by one and all!

I can only guess that perhaps if you lack these abilities, it might be annoying to hear about skills you haven’t developed. Although, I would suggest that there is not a person out there that should not be trying to better him or herself in one (or more) of the aspects outlined in a framework of EI. I am continually trying to develop my own competencies—and I am positive that I can and will continue to develop my abilities until the day I die (or give up trying). And so can everyone else. Research shows that EI competencies can indeed be learned and improved.

I believe we need to hear more about EI, regardless of how it is labeled and who is professing its importance. If you want to learn about some different ways that people look at some other frameworks related to EI, there is a great recent HBR article, with some solid evidence citing the importance of EI concepts.

I hope this article has convinced you that EI is important, but if not, I hope you’ll think about it further and ask yourself, why shouldn’t these competencies be important to you?


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