The Business-Technology Weave

May 28 2013   6:14PM GMT

Emotional Intelligence: Are we there yet?

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


Are you there yet?  Either as an individual, or an organization?

As an individual:  Are you happy with your emotional balance?  Are you able to handle difficult situations and people with aplomb?  Can you negotiate the minefield(s) of blame, innuendo, power, ambiguity, mistakes, miscommunications, etc?

How does the organization handle emotion?  Can it deal with irascible clients effectively?  Does the org accept blame too readily in appeasing clients?  Anyone ever get “thrown under the bus”?  What about internal meetings?  Project crunches?  And so on and so forth…

Most people feel that special business expertise and technical skill is not enough for ensuring success at work.  A driving factor in success is an ability to handle stress, and handling stress requires emotional maturity and emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence allows you to understand yourself, and hence others; hopefully your organization is at a tipping point whereby most people have this knowledge, and the org has a collective body of emotional intelligence.

When that happens, people operate in good faith, and take it on faith that others are operating on good faith.  I recently had a client tell me that they had sent me an e-mail the prior morning – had I seen it?  I had to tell them that I did not receive it – it simply was not in my inbox.  Were they certain they had sent it?  “Yes.”

Well, I was never in receipt of it:  They took my word that it had not arrived, and I took their word that it was sent.  We were able to do that based on a shared history of maturity, cooperation, and best-practice engagement.  We knuckled down and played catch-up in getting some critical work done.  Finger-pointing, so often engaged, simply would not get us to where we needed to be.  A rather simple example, but those serve best.

Assess yourself according to the following criteria:

Self-awareness:  Be self-confident, but not arrogant.  Recognize your emotions, and what triggers them (in both good ways and bad).  Understand your own strengths, as well as weaknesses.

Self-management:  You’re able to manage your emotions in healthy ways; you can deal effectively with stress; you’re in control.  You can control impulsive feelings and behaviors – a great example is the ability to hold off on rash e-mails, or verbal communications.  Take time to think – draft something, sleep on it when possible, then revisit the subject.

Social awareness:  You care about other people, and understand their concerns and needs.  You can sense their emotions and respond appropriately and helpfully.  You’re comfortable with others, and comfortable with power:  Within it, wielding yours, and understanding its place in groups and the organization.

Relationship management:  You’re able to lead, inspire and influence others without being overbearing, or leaning too far into raw power.  You know how to manage and resolve conflict – between yourself and another/others, and between team members.  Clear communications is one of your strengths, and you utilize it in maintaining good relationships.

Emotional intelligence, or lack of, will affect your performance at work.  You simply must get along with others – and more – you must lead, get along with, and help to motivate others.  Many companies now test your Emotional Quotient (EQ), so be aware.

You also want to manage your physical health, and emotional health helps to reduce blood pressure and boost your immune system.  You’ll look younger longer too with the reduction and effective management of stress.

Stress can negatively affect your mental health.  Anxiety and depression can result, and they can begin a self-reinforcing downward spiral into all sorts of negative behaviors and consequences.  Maintaining your day-to-day mood, and mental health, is an obvious imperative.

In matters of relationships, the understanding and control of emotions helps you to build stronger relationships, and to better manage them.  Understanding of emotions allows for better communications, and grants strength for both work and personal relationships.

In the realm of business and IT, there are a myriad of time-crunches, stressors, difficult people, and difficult situations.  It is in these sorts of crucibles that emotional intelligence is essential.  There will be those persons who lose their cool, lose focus, become angry or bitter – and that is precisely why an overwhelming balance of people must be emotionally intelligent.

Balance must be strengthened continuously, too.  This way, over time, people (and thus the org) can withstand larger and stronger forces.

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