Heart on head illustrating EQ

In the early 90’s, Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, started to gain popularity with the success of Daniel Goleman’s books: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is often defined in terms of attention to one’s emotions, accurate recognition of one’s own and other’s moods, mood management and control over emotions.

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion. -Dale Carnegie

As a leader within your own organization, you are likely very familiar with emotional intelligence and understand how important it is in building and maintain relationships. This key element is what makes or breaks a leader’s ability to connect with and engage their employees. A high IQ can only go so far when it comes to managing people and inspiring them to action. We are left with the questions:  

  • How can we identify emotional intelligence? 
  • How can we teach emotional intelligence?  

Identifying Emotional Intelligence

If people were on a scale from lacking emotional intelligence to very emotionally savvy, you need to look for a few things. Before you start assessing others, it is good to get a baseline for yourself. Emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. A person’s ability to understanding and identify their own individual emotions is the first step in understanding others. You can use the tips below or really dive in and take this assessment from Psychology Today to help you understand where you are on the scale. 

The practice of looking for EQ in others should be a constant practice, but it is especially critical in an interview or when working with a new hire. Understanding where people sit on the scale will help you adjust your communications style to fit who you are talking to. Here are a few signs of emotional intelligence and some questions to help you figure it out.

Emotionally intelligent people are good listeners and genuinely enjoy getting to know people. They are in the moment demonstrating good eye and nonverbal cues like nodding their head or smiling. They ask questions to learn more about you or the topic of your conversation.

They are open-minded. They will hear you out but aren’t afraid to ask more questions to truly understand a particular point of view or argument. Simultaneously, they are willing to share their opinion. Ask them how they broach culturally sensitive topics. 

They are adaptable and flexible. They “roll with the punches” well. They can celebrate a win and engage the team after a loss. Ask questions about how they deal with ambiguity or how they overcame a seemingly impossible situation. 

They can take and receive feedback well. They understand feedback is part of the growing process for everyone, themselves included. Most emotionally intelligent people are typically continually on a quest to better themselves. Ask them about a time when they receive challenging feedback and how they responded.

They admit when they have made mistakes. Transparency is a critical part of an emotionally intelligent person. They understand mistakes happen and relationships take work. They will make a point to address issues so they don’t come up again. Asking people about a time they failed is a good way to understand how they respond to challenging situations. 

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

Everyone has a different level of emotional intelligence and the good news is, in most cases, it is teachable. So how can that happen in the workplace? 

It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart overhead–it is the unique intersection of both.” — David Caruso

As stated previously, it starts with self-awareness. If someone can identify emotions in themselves, then they see them in others. This starts with talking about emotions and putting names to feelings. This goes beyond sad, happy or the classic “I’m fine.” Expanding one’s emotional vocabulary is a good start to start to identifying more complex emotions such as disgust, jealousy, and frustration. 

Active listening is another skill employees can strengthen. Slowing down from our fast-paced world just to listen and create an authentic connection with someone is critical. However, how many times have you caught yourself or someone else’s mind running during a conversation or checking email in a meeting? We are all guilty. Ensuring your body language reflects your interest in the conversation and repeating items for clarity are simple ways to practice active listening.   

If done correctly, giving feedback leads to more self-awareness and self-improvement. The workplace is the perfect place to give feedback to help individuals grow. Providing feedback on skill gaps and establishing a plan to help an employee improve can be empowering. It is also important to help them practice giving feedback to others as well. This requires tact and empathy to be done appropriately. 

Empathy is the most critical element of emotional intelligence. To truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes is next to impossible because we all carry our own assumptions and judgments. The more you can help people break down these subconscious assumptions or biases, the more they can truly feel the emotions of someone else. 

These are just a few of the skills that help people grow and gain more emotional intelligence in the workplace and beyond. It’s a multifaceted subject with many avenues that don’t come overnight. Getting employees comfortable with their emotions and letting them know you prioritize this skill helps them understand they should actively work on it. 

At Verb, we understand the best leaders are emotionally savvy.  If you are interested in learning more about emotional intelligence and how you can help your employees increase their EQ. Check out Verb’s Emotional Intelligence Collection.