Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

If you have EI, chances are you can better relate to the emotions of others.

There is disagreement over whether EI can be learned or whether people are born with it. In my experience, EI can be learned.

EI helps on both the macro and micro levels. If you want a high performing company, focus on EI. If you want to accelerate your career, strengthen your EI. Why?

There’s a link between EI and leadership. Whether you’re a senior manager or a young salesperson, EI provides the spark to accelerate your accomplishments.

Executives with high EI tend to have happier employees. They hire and promote employees who these soft skills.

This means the staff members are higher performing and aren’t as likely to leave.

Moreover, companies that base their recruitment, hiring and promotion initiatives on EI will be more competitive in the marketplace.

Whether you want EI to work for your company or you personally, it’s desirable to have five key characteristics:

1. Check for self-awareness

This means being aware of emotions – what we’re feeling, the causes of our feelings and how we react to others. If we’re fully aware of our feelings, we can manage our emotions.

We then respond, not react to others. This is vital. It’s advisable to think about what to say or do before acting – that’s called responding.

If we fly off the handle or get brusque with others we’re not self aware. We’re reacting.

The result is more favorable when we respond. We don’t damage relationships and we build trust.

2. Listening expertise

When others are speaking, people who have strong EI listen intently. They don’t think about how to react.

Instead, they try to understand what the other person is saying and feeling – before they respond – and then they acknowledge the person’s feelings.

Even if the person is rambling off-topic or complaining about an unsolvable situation, an EI-inspired person will let the person vent.

3. Ability to be aware of emotions of individuals

If we’re aware of the emotions in others, we don’t have to change our exercise program – because we don’t jump to conclusions. We don’t rush to judgment.

Nor do we mirror the negative emotions of angry people. We don’t take things personally. This means we’re not giving away our power to others.

4. Reading the whole environment

A person with strong EI can read the room – the emotions of people at work. Morale is important to read, and so is sensing the collective emotions of employees that can adversely affect the workplace.

Communication can then follow.

5. Response skills

Senior managers who can predict their employees’ attitudes and behaviors are more adroit in dealing with negative situations before it’s too late. They can be proactive to alleviate and improve such situations.

Again, my sense is that EI can be learned and developed. If you believe in the EI concept and its benefits, understand that it takes commitment, discipline and practice.

There are four strategies to improve your EI:

1. Seek input

If you don’t understand a challenge or situation, ask a mentor for insights. If you’re in a disagreement with employees or peers, ask for an explanation.

If you’re being criticized, simply listen and take notes. Don’t get defensive or make excuses. Try to understand the criticism, own it and take corrective measures.

2. Analyze how you affect others

Be aware of your intent, tone of voice and how you negatively affect other people. Unintentionally, people marginalize others.

They don’t understand the gap – what they intend to say but how it hurts others.

3. Freeze your negative emotions

Whenever you’re in an uncomfortable situation, don’t lower yourself to a knee-jerk reaction. Listen. Pause. Think.

4. Learn the art of empathy

Even if you disagree with someone, empathize with a response something like, “I can understand how you feel that way.” Then try to understand the person’s point-of-view.

You’re not prostituting your values. You’re merely acknowledging the person’s feelings. Empathy goes a long way to resolving issues.

Finally, if you want to check your EI level, you can take this EI quiz.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles:

Listening Skills to Improve Your Relationships and Business Performance — What counts in communication? Listening skills for discernment and trust. Discerning people are the most successful and listening skills are important for discernment. That goes for athletes and management, alike.

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication — Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

Why Executives Emphasize Communication Training for Employees — Among human resources training priorities, employee communication is often now more important than skills, say many executives. Two-thirds of executives responding to a survey say communication skills are most needed by certain employees.

10 Steps to Manage Conflict for High Performance — For progress, a business needs human interaction for ideas and innovation. Sometimes, argument, debate and conflict prove to be productive catalysts for high performance. But such catalysts can be obstacles to success, too. Here are the simplest ways to manage conflict.

To Win in Project Management, Tap Emotional Intelligence — Automated project-management models might be popular, but they don’t lead to the championship-quality results. Project managers achieve greater success and long-term sustainability by leveraging emotional intelligence. Yes, mastering emotions makes it possible to motivate employees to higher performances.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

-Theodore Roosevelt


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.