The Power of Emotional Intelligence

A modified version of this article was originally published on the MPI Toronto Chapter’s MEETING Magazine. To view the original post, please click here.

What is emotional intelligence and why is it so powerful?

Described in the dictionary as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” – it’s a powerful skill to have if you ask me.

Earlier last year I was encouraged by my manager to take a course on Emotional Intelligence as a way to strengthen my leadership and relationship building abilities. It had been on my radar for a while, and with her support, my employer made it happen.

We all have shining moments as well as areas for improvement, and emotional intelligence was the latter one for me, where this “fault” of mine had affected me in personal and professional settings throughout my life. At times, my outgoing personality, combined with my excitement, passion and talkative persona could easily over take a conversation and unintentionally give people the wrong impression. My overall awareness of the situation and others around could be single-sided, and potentially lead to misunderstandings. — Don’t get me wrong, I am a friendly and kind-hearted person! And anyone who knows me can attest to that… but it’s important to recognize our faults in order to grow and become a better version of ourselves.

So, last April I took a one-day course offered by the Institute of Health & Human Potential (IHHP), and what I got out of it was more powerful than what I could have imagined. The course taught me so much about myself, and gave me key tools I could use regularly to help strengthen my relationships at work and at home.

One of the key focus areas of the course involved adapting our behavior to prevent misunderstandings; and I’d like to share my biggest takeaways as to how one can mitigate that:

  • Know and recognize your “triggers” – What (or who) makes you “tick” and why? It could be traffic, lack of coffee, an annoying colleague, etc. These triggers can cloud your judgement and lower your range of situational awareness.
  • Identify when you are about to react to a situation and actively try to supress it by implementing the S.O.S strategy – Stop, Oxygenate (breathe) and Seek information. Stop yourself from reacting, take a deep breath, and ask follow up questions. By asking questions one can avoid misinterpreting the situation.
  • During disagreements, go to “their side of the bridge” and try to understand where others are coming from. Their life experiences may be different than yours and affect their perspective.
  • Communication is not what you say, but how others interpret what you say. Positive intention behind a message doesn’t mean others will interpret it as such, and people will unfairly judge you based on how they perceive you instead of the intentions you might have had.
  • When communicating with others, it is important to ask yourself:
    Does this need to be said?
    Does this need to be said by me?
    Does this need to be said by me right now?

Personally, I have implemented these tips many times since taking the course, allowing me to become a better listener, connect with others, and further develop my relationships. The positive feedback I have received since has been noticeable, and although there is always room for improvement, the power of emotional intelligence has made me a better colleague, team member, family member and partner.

Our “network is our net worth”, and investing in our emotional intelligence development will make our ability to connect with others and build relationships that much stronger, allowing us to grow as people and better serve others.

For a video version of this post, please click here.

So tell me, which of these takeaways resonated most with you? Comment Below!

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