Pursue What Matters
Episode 22: What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does It Matter?
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you know your IQ score? No. didn’t think so. And that’s okay, because IQ is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Instead, if you want to be successful in life, in relationships, in leadership, in whatever area you want to be, you don’t need to worry about IQ, you really should be more concerned with emotional intelligence. So the research is really clear that that’s where we should be spending our energy and time. And so today, we’re talking all about emotional intelligence, what it is, and why it matters. And I have a really great free quickfire guide to help you boost your emotional intelligence. So I hope you’re gonna stay tuned and let’s jump in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:56
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters Podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Today, we’re talking all about emotional intelligence. For decades, leaders in business and education were obsessed with IQ testing, and thought that IQ was what really mattered when it comes to success in life. But we’ve come to learn that maybe IQ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Today, I’m going to explain what emotional intelligence is and why it matters. So not only that, I’ve got a quick fire guide to help you boost your emotional intelligence. This is such a handy guide, you will want to keep it around for yourself and for those you love and lead. So stay tuned and learn how you can get your EQ quick fire guide, you will want it I promise. Okay, so emotional intelligence, which is sometimes abbreviated as EQ, or EI. So you’ll see it as both ways was a term first introduced by two researchers, but really popularized by the psychologist Daniel Goleman. And he he wrote about it in his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence. And it’s really been groundbreaking work, and has represented a paradigm shift in the way we think about what it takes to be successful in life. So with his book, it’s been a year and a half on the New York Times bestseller list, with more than 5 million copies in print worldwide and 40 languages. And you know, that’s pretty good when you consider that it’s a pretty, it’s a pretty dense discussion. It’s a really good book. But, you know, I would say it’s probably not for the faint of heart, the Harvard Business Review called Emotional Intelligence, which discounts IQ as the sole measure of one’s abilities. As a revolutionary paradigm shattering idea, and chose his article, what makes a leader as one of its 10 must read articles from its pages. Emotional Intelligence was named one of the 25 most influential Business Management books by Time Magazine. And the Financial Times Wall Street Journal and Accenture Institute for Strategic change, have listed Goldman among the most influential business thinkers of all time. So you know, some good stuff there about EQ, and Goldman. And of course, since Goldman’s work there has been a lot of additional work in the area of emotional intelligence. And it really does point to the idea that emotional intelligence is a much better indicator of success and one’s ability than his IQ. So this is definitely worth our time, because because EQ is composed of several factors that are totally pliable, meaning you can absolutely develop these EQ muscles over time, which of course can result in greater success. And, you know, we’re kind of all interested in that, hopefully.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:21
Okay, so let’s talk a bit more about what EQ is exactly, and then we’ll talk about why it matters. So specifically, I’ll share with you some of the great benefits of EQ and I’m hoping that will motivate you to build some of your EQ muscles. And then you’re in luck, because I’ve got some excellent practical ways for you to do just that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:42
So first of all, what is emotional intelligence? So Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to one, recognize and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. So EQ is focused on core competencies in both emotional and social awareness in leadership.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:08
So there are four core areas to focus on. So the first one is self awareness, which includes emotional self awareness, you’ve got self management, which includes emotional balance, adaptability, achievement, orientation, and positive outlook. And then, so those are the two that include self awareness, right self awareness and self management. And then the third one is social awareness, which includes empathy and organizational awareness. And then fourth is relationship management, which includes influence conflict management, inspirational leadership, coach and mentor and teamwork. So the first two are all about self awareness and self management. And the second two are all about social awareness and relationship management. So those are kind of the basics. So self awareness, and social awareness. So now why does emotional intelligence matter? And what are the benefits? So you know, hopefully just honest, on the surface level, you can see how this skill is incredibly useful in so many settings. But especially in high pressure situations where having a cool head is required. So giving feedback, making difficult decisions, coping with other people’s crises, maintaining perspective without losing sight of important details, you know, meeting deadlines, coping with uncertainty, managing resources, threat, like, think about leadership, think about, think about all that’s required of a leader, and how these emotional intelligence skills are like, really highly valuable. So not only this ability to manage your own emotions, but your ability to be aware, and to influence the emotions of others, right, like your ability to keep a cool head, but also to maybe be able to calm other people down, when they’re feeling anxious, or when they are feeling stressed out. Like that in in some situations, that’s like a superpower. That’s a pretty incredible skill to have. Put, most simply, those with high EQ skills are the most successful people.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:42
So people want to be led by those with high EQ. So these individuals are inspirational, they’re motivated, they’re disciplined, when they speak, others pay attention. These individuals are goal driven, they’re accomplished, they’re trustworthy, right? So they have a confidence about them. And so when they speak, other people believe that other people want to follow them. And so they have this, they have these characteristics that really draw people to them. And so these are some of these are some of the characteristics that they have that really draw people to them. So now let’s so now that we have a little more understanding of like, what are some of the basics of emotional intelligence, right, so it’s this self awareness, and this social awareness. So this ability to manage your own emotional experience, that all the also this ability to have awareness and influence the emotions of other people, we really want to think about practical ways to improve your emotional intelligence, because this is definitely something that you can work on and you can improve. So I’ve got some practical suggestions that come from each of the four domains. So the first one is from self awareness, right? That’s the first area that we talked about. So the first suggestion is to journal daily for self reflection, right? Because to journal daily is all about increasing your self awareness. So I’ve got some suggested prompts for you. And actually, I have an upcoming podcast that is all about journaling. And so I’ll just kind of share a couple things right here about journaling.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:37
But stay tuned because I have a totally dedicated podcast to journaling. And it’s going to have lots of great details for you. But some suggested prompts would include what lessons did I learn how was I challenged today? How did I grow today? What did I learn about myself today? What Did I learn about others today. And so it really is focused on increasing self awareness and self reflection. Okay, second thing that you could do to build self awareness is to check in periodically about your emotional experience.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:16
So set an alarm throughout the day and check in with your emotions. So you know, like on your phone, you could just set an alarm for like five to seven times throughout the day. And when that alarm goes off, you ask yourself, What am I feeling? And like really just trying to assess, okay, what, what are my emotional experiences right now? get curious about your emotions, and ask what is contributing to these feelings. So right, if you notice that you’re feeling frustrated, what might be contributing to a feeling of frustration, while Okay, I’m at the doctor’s office, and the doctor has been keeping me waiting for 20 minutes. So okay, it’s really understandable that I’m feeling pretty frustrated right now. So we not only want to understand our feelings, but we want to understand, you know, the experiences, or the situations that might be contributing to those feelings, all of that helps to increase self awareness, it helps to increase empathy, and compassion, and also perspective taking. So cultivate curiosity about your emotional experience, and begin to draw a connecting link between your thoughts and your emotion. So this is the other thing, you know, we want to pay attention to our emotions. And do we have some thoughts that contribute to those emotions, or we want to begin to draw a connecting link between our thoughts and our emotions. Because sometimes we develop some stories or some thoughts that, you know, unduly impact our emotions in unhelpful ways. So for instance, you know, we might say, Oh, I’m never going to get that raise. And so then we feel, you know, really upset about a situation. But if we kind of trace it back to that thought, you know, that’s not a very helpful thought. But the fact is, we don’t know if we’re going to get that raise, or if we’re not going to get that raise. And so if we can just stick to the facts and not, you know, not go down that storytelling route, then we can avoid some of those emotions that aren’t very helpful for us. But we want to, we want to start understanding that connecting link a little more closely. And this is, this is the next, the next activity under self awareness, which is to examine your stories.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:54
So ask yourself, what is the story I’m telling myself, does reality fit your story, and ask for feedback from a trusted loved one about your story, because a lot of times, our stories actually don’t match up with reality. But we’d like telling ourselves stories, because it kind of fits our belief system. But a lot of times our stories lead to suffering. And it’s not very helpful for us. The next suggestion is to consider therapy or coaching, for feedback to increase self awareness. Both of these activities are really good activities to increase self awareness. It’s like a very direct route to feedback. And so that could be a really powerful source of increasing your self awareness. And those could be really great because they tend to be much more objective than you know, asking your partner or your best friend for feedback, because those feedback sessions don’t tend to be very objective. But doing that via therapy, or coaching can be really helpful. Because then you can identify specific goals that you want to work on, relative to say, your leadership, and that sort of thing. And then you know, you’re getting very targeted feedback, to help you in alignment with those goals. So that can be really powerful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:27
Okay, the next suggestion is to recognize that you have blind spots, and ask for help in identifying them. And, you know, there’s no need to have shame about the fact that you have blind spots. We all have blind spots. And you know, I think sometimes there’s this assumption that we should be able to see and understand everything about ourselves all the time. We should have like this perfect self awareness and that’s just very unrealistic. And so just recognize that you have blind spots. I have blind spots. We all Have them. And that once we can accept that, then we can actually be a lot more open to receiving feedback about them. So before having a difficult conversation or conversation where maybe you’re asking for feedback, you could ask yourself, what my my blind spots be in this situation. And so by preparing yourself proactively, you can be more open and non defensive. And so that can be a really helpful approach that can lower those defenses, and actually can lower your anxiety and your heart rate as you go into some of those difficult conversations or some of those feedback sessions. So that can be really very helpful.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:47
Okay, so now let’s think about the second area, which is self management. And let’s think about some practical suggestions in that area. So the first one would be utilized coping skills for managing stress. So do an internet search, to get some great ideas and be willing to try three to five new coping skills per week until you find a few that you are willing to do consistently. So we all have stress. And we all need to have some coping skills to help manage stress. And the thing about coping skills is that they’re really unique to the individual. And so what works for one person may be less effective for another. And so you know, you kind of have to be willing to try some out. And you know, there are a lot of options out there. Some, some general ones that can be really helpful would be like paced breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, exercise, those sorts of things that I what I would suggest. So I would maybe start with some of those basic ones that I just mentioned. But then also doing an internet search and getting some ideas that that resonate with you and at least be willing to try three to five per week, and at least stick with them, right, because you’re not going to want to do any of them long term, and you’re going to have to stick with them over time. And so journaling might be one of them. So we’ve already talked about journaling, but at least be willing to do them consistently over time. So you give yourself enough time to decide if that could be a coping skill that could be helpful for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:45
Okay, the next, the next suggestion is to set goals consistently. So this is under self management. So hold yourself accountable to these goals by writing them down, reviewing them weekly, and then tracking your progress. So I would recommend that you consider using the smart framework meaning that your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, you will have more success, if you structure your goal that way. Okay, the next suggestion under self management is to express gratitude daily. This is one of the single most valuable things you can do to cultivate more happiness in your life, which is a key foundation of self management. So with this, we want you to mix up your gratitude practice so that it doesn’t get stale. So one thing you could do would be to identify five things you’re grateful for in a gratitude journal, you could share one thing you’re grateful for with a loved one at the you know, the dinner table, you could write a note of gratitude to someone once a week, you could express gratitude to someone via text every day. So there’s lots of different ways to mix this up. But I think that the key so what the research indicates is that you mix it up to keep it meaningful, because if you do just the same thing every single day or every week, then it tends to get kind of stale, and it just is like you’re kind of going through the motions. So be willing to mix it up so that it remains meaningful to you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:34
Okay, and then the next suggestion under self management is to cultivate optimism. When you notice yourself being pessimistic ask yourself, Is there another way to understand this situation? Or is there a positive spin on this situation? Another question you could ask is, how would an optimist see this situation? So I think these are all really good. questions to help you kind of shift towards more of an optimistic view. So push yourself to see the glass half full. And before too long, it won’t be such a stretch to hold an optimistic view. Now, we’re not trying to get you to just take a Pollyanna view of the world, but we want you to, to recognize that there’s more than one view of the situation. And so it it really is about creating a little more cognitive flexibility in your approach to the situation. And so we saw these questions are all really helpful for kind of just expanding that cognitive flexibility a little bit more.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:46
Okay. So the next suggestion under self management is be adaptable. So mix up your schedule, let go of rigid routines, challenge, rigidity, wherever you find it, whether it’s in your own mind, in your routine, your processes, or rules, unless absolutely necessary, right? Like sometimes very rigid rules are necessary. But ask yourself, Is this rule absolutely necessary, if not be willing to be adaptable. And this is also related to what I just talked about with cognitive flexibility, right? cognitive flexibility is key to self management. And so being adaptable, is gonna make self management much easier. Right. So if you get really rigid, if there’s any sort of disruption to your quote, unquote, rules, you’re going to have a really hard time managing yourself, and you make yourself very difficult to be around. And so that, that starts to intrude on the social sphere. And that really impacts other people, especially at work or in relationships. And so we want to be very mindful of that. Okay, so now we want to talk about practical suggestions. In the third domain, which is social awareness. So we’ve talked about self management, self awareness, now we want to talk about social awareness. So the first suggestion is to watch and listen. So he wants you to be observant about the world around you. So as an experiment, spend some time sitting on a park bench and observing people, what do you notice about people? Do they listen to one another? Do they talk past one another? Do they really interact at all? So what do you notice? What do you observe? And just just pay attention to that? You can really pick up a lot about that. So I think it’s really interesting, like, do you just see people sitting side by side on their phones and not really interacting at all? So take note of that? And do you have some take home lessons for yourself based on your observations?
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:09
Okay, another suggestion for social awareness, put your phone tablets, devices, put all of those away, you don’t have to do it permanently, but just for a little while, put them in a closed container. So like a desk drawer works well. And listen to those you are interacting with so that you can really hear them and engage. So the reality is that if a device is in our line of sight, it will be incredibly difficult to avoid being distracted by it. So the devices are absolutely designed to distract us. So it’s really important to silence them, turn them off, and maybe even throw them out a window. And I think the reality is like out of sight, out of mind. So this is why I really recommend like putting them in a drawer putting them you know, if it’s a laptop, like zipping it in a case, or putting a phone in a drawer or in a bag, out of sight, out of mind, do what you have to do to ensure that they don’t get in the way of real connection. And that’s really the key. Because if you can get those devices out of the way that frees you up to connect and to really engage in and be available for social awareness. And so that’s that’s a big, big part of that puzzle.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:35
Okay, the next suggestion, and this can this can be hotly contested. So I will leave it up to you. But consider a no Device Policy during meetings. So maybe you check them at the door and I think you really just need to pay attention to you know, are the devices getting in the way are people engaged in meetings, you know, how important are the devices to the meetings. Maybe the first step is having a conversation about the culture of the meetings and going from there. But that might be something to at least pay attention to. Okay, the next suggestion under social awareness is definitely consider a no Device Policy during dinner. And I would, I would probably even, say, have a no policy, have a no Device Policy during dinner so that as a family as colleagues, you know, whatever that you can actually really interact and that you’re not competing with devices or with incoming texts. The next suggestion, have children turn in devices at a reasonable hour, and ensure they are kept in a communal spot at home, no devices in bedrooms. This is, you know, for parents set time limits on devices for children based on age. So another suggestion for self awareness, or sorry, social awareness. And this is really at home. But this is absolutely something that contributes to emotional intelligence, play games, as a family focused on social interaction, that require social awareness of others, these interactions teach valuable skills in social awareness. So playing games, as a family, or colleagues or anything like that. That is, that’s huge for increasing social awareness. Like that’s really, really valuable to the next one, invite others to family dinner, having guests for dinner, are another prime opportunity to include children in social interactions that build social awareness, skills, and empathy. And even, you know, the next one is sharing stories around the dinner table. So you don’t even need to have guests at dinner. But you know, engaging at dinner and sharing stories, what was the most challenging part of your day or share when from your day, these stories build empathy, they build social connection, they build social awareness to be able to say, Hey, you know, tell me, tell me about how your test went. I know, last night at dinner, you were a little worried about it. And so they build connection, they build empathy, they build social awareness.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:23
Okay, the next suggestion, when conversing with a friend listen to their story without waiting for your turn to speak, focus on only encouraging their story. So when you go into a conversation really set as your agenda, only listening, rather than looking for when can you give your advice? Or when can you share your experience? Or when can you talk about your experience. And that may be harder than you think. But it’s a it’s a really good practice to work on another suggestion, resist the tendency to give feedback advice or counsel to a friend, bite your tongue if you have to. So that’s, that’s a good one to practice.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:09
Okay, so now the fourth area is relationship and management. So the first suggestion is lead by example, resist long speeches, keep it brief when talking to those you lead. The second one is if you are the leader in the room, keep quiet. Others will naturally look to you for direction and you will unwittingly shut down conversations prematurely if you weigh in with your opinion too early. So definitely use silence to invite quieter members of the team to speak up and just just recognize you carry a lot of power in the room. And so make sure that you allow silence in the room so that, you know you’re not you’re not foreclosing a conversation too quickly.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:00
Okay, the next suggestion in a meeting, invite others to speak up. So mention a conversation you had with a colleague as a way of inviting a quieter team member into the conversation. That can be a really nice, gentle way of inviting someone into the conversation and, you know, building connection without putting someone on the spot. I think that’s that like, that’s a really, that’s a really great skill right there. Another suggestion is to ask a quiet team member what they think of a specific idea as a way of gently inviting them into a conversation. So you know, we don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but we do want to gently invite quieter members into a conversation. We want to make space for them.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:55
Another suggestion, tolerate silence and encourage them to do the same, so invite pauses during conversation. So, you know, in my clinical life, I’m a psychologist, so most therapists are expert at tolerating silence. And it’s just so painful for most people. But if your ability to learn to tolerate silence, will pay really big dividends. So it’s really important to be able to tolerate silence. Okay, the next suggestion, use your influence to clear the path upstream with the powers that be. And this is influence that you as the leader can uniquely assert. And so if that’s something that you can do to make the life of your team members easier, do it, that’s, that’s a great role for you. To play. Another suggestion, avoid using the pronoun I used we instead. And this actually makes a big difference for teams feeling unified. There’s great research about this actually. So using we instead of I makes a big difference on feeling unified as a team, another suggestion, be a giver, and serve the taker while still maintaining boundaries, right? No one wants to be a doormat. But look for ways to help others. And the research is also clear on this, those who look for ways to help others are more successful, it does pay big dividends down the road. So if you’re, if you’re only worried about what you will get out of an exchange, you’ll, you know, you will be seen as selfish, it will not pay off for you at the end. But looking for ways to help others will help you to be more successful. And of course, that’s not the reason you would do it. The reason you do it is because you care about other people. And that doesn’t mean that you’re a doormat, like you still hold boundaries. And you know, you’re not going to get walked on or anything like that. But you want to look for ways that you can help other people. The next suggestion, don’t be afraid of conflict. So be willing to have direct conversations about contentious issues, but do it respectfully, always, always, respectfully, always with care. And then the last suggestion under relationship management is that conflict avoidance is not the aim. Instead aim to understand the other’s concerns. So you want to seek to understand the other perspective. So too often conflict avoidance is really very narrowly focused on eliminating conflict and the underlying concern is never fully addressed. So instead, we want to understand the underlying concern. And that requires us to tolerate the conflict as we respect the other and then do what you can to transform the conflict into a reasonable path forward. So negotiation can be really powerful in terms of looking for both parties to get what they want or need out of the situation. And at the end of the day, like you might just need to tolerate the conflict, and it’s not the end of the world, right? Like you might not be able to come to an easy resolution. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t still move forward productively.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:37
Okay, so there you have it, lots of really practical suggestions that can help you to boost your emotional intelligence. So I hope that you will take a look at those and definitely, that you will check out the quick fire guide to help boost your emotional intelligence, it’s I think it’s going to be really helpful for you. So I hope you will definitely take the time to check it out and download it because I think it will be really helpful for you and for those you love and lead. So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources. That’s where you can download the quickfire guide that’s at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-22 one more time. www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-22 and of course if you like what you’re hearing on the podcast, please head on over to iTunes and subscribe and leave me a review. And of course I’m on Spotify now. So if you prefer Spotify, take a listen there and subscribe and check me out there. And then also I’m on Instagram under @drmelissasmith. So definitely Follow me there. And I would love to interact with you would love to hear what you’re up to and what you’d like to hear about on the podcast, whether with book reviews or other topics. I’d love to hear what you’re dealing with in your life and in your leadership, it would be really fun to interact with you there. So as a reminder, I’ve got this great quick fire guide to help you boost your emotional intelligence. It’s such a handy guide, you’ll want to keep it around for yourself and for those you love and lead. So definitely go to my website to access that guide. And then also with the resources I’ve got a link to an article that I contributed to for Mind Body green, that’s a really great website on practical ways to boost emotional intelligence. So it’s got some of these ideas listed there. And then I also have a link to Daniel Goldman’s website so you can learn a little bit more about him and emotional intelligence there so you can access all of that at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-22 I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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