In our business lives, we are supposed to be rational beings, yet we cannot deny that there is an emotional subtext to everything we do. Have you ever noticed the way emotions change from minute to minute, or second to second, coming from nowhere and going nowhere? Our emotions are as fluid and natural as the thoughts in our head.
The problem with emotions isn’t that they exist, but that we sometimes cannot recognize or manage them.
At a seminar many years ago, a man told a story about a fender bender was in. He described getting out of the car, and screaming at the other driver and kicking his vehicle. When he was asked what he would call the emotion he was feeling in that moment, he said, “ ummm -- maybe fear?”
The point is that if we don’t know when we're experiencing an emotion as clear as anger, we’ll quickly become a slave to it.
Enter the need for emotional intelligence (EI) training. Much has been written in the popular and academic presses about EI. Dan Goleman has written a series of books about EI in different contexts, including EI at work.
The academic research shows that a person’s ability to perceive, identify, and manage emotion provides the basis for the kinds of social and emotional competencies that are important for success in almost any job.
My own perception, which has been corroborated by studies, is that professionals tend to have particular emotional styles that can be the basis of some success, but at the same time, can limit them in that success and in their ability to live happy, healthy lives.
The four domains of Emotional Intelligence are as follows:
1. Self-Awareness: The ability to “read” your emotions and recognize their impact.
2. Self-Management: The ability to manage your emotions and impulses while adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Social Awareness: The ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions, including empathy and compassion.
4. Relationship Management: The ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.
As Goleman suggests, and academic studies corroborate, emotional intelligenceis what distinguishes great leaders from run-of-the-mill leaders. Intellect, drive, and stick-to-itiveness all might be necessary, but they're certainly not sufficient. The ability to persist in the face of difficulty, communicate effectively, and successfully collaborate with colleagues and subordinates, isn’t developed through IQ, academics, or even professional wins, but through the emotional intelligence that becomes available through the practice of mindfulness meditation.