We hear a lot of buzz these days about the importance of emotional intelligence (EI).  What exactly is “emotional intelligence” and why do we need it? There are 4 main components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

Self-Awareness and Self-Management

Self-awareness is when we are aware of our own emotions and what causes them, have a realistic assessment of our own strengths and limitations, and have self-confidence. Self-management is when we have emotional self-control.  It’s also when we display honesty and integrity, are adaptable, and have optimism. Simple yes?  Not without a focused intention and commitment.  The lack or abundance of EI is directly related to high or low functioning in individuals and teams.

Philosophers throughout the ages have said in one form or another, “To thy own self be true”, but how does that work when people don’t have self-awareness or don’t manage themselves effectively? What if they are unaware of what they feel, their motives, strengths and limitations, their likes and dislikes, and how they communicate? Reflect on people you know who have EI competencies and those who don’t.  What are the effects on you, them and others?

When we lack self-awareness and self-management, we operate unconsciously. We speak without thinking and act without first releasing feelings that are inappropriate and counterproductive. We might agree to participate in situations that don’t suit us and in which we are less likely to be successful or fulfilled. We don’t tune into our bodily sensations that provide us important feedback.  Our breathing for example, can let us know when we are discouraged, afraid, attached to having our own way, being right or when we are aligned, at peace, and centered. With EI, we are mindful, honest and optimistic.

Social Awareness and Relationship Management

Author Paul Ferrini wrote, “The choice between love and fear is made every moment in our hearts and minds. That is where the peace process begins. Without peace within, peace in the world is an empty wish. Like love, peace is extended. It cannot be brought from the world to the heart. It must be brought from each heart to another, and thus to all humankind.”  Social-awareness is a sense of empathy in which we understand other people’s emotions and have social interest.  It’s also the ability to read the politics and develop a contributing heartRelationship management is when we extend social awareness by using our personal power to influence, inspire, develop and encourage others.  We facilitate change by building trustand collaborating; we are change agents of peace and support.

A lack of social awareness and relationship management is at the root of all social ills, whether they be problems in marriage, parenting, with co-workers, or in the larger global community in wars and irresponsible management of natural and manufactured resources.  Lack of EI is the basis of most addictions, aggressiveness, mental illness, risky behaviors and conflicts.  Until the last half century, little emphasis has been given to the development and fostering of EI.  Where there is productivity and positive contribution, there are leaders who consider EI a top priority.

It’s not enough to be self-aware; to be effective, we must also be able to manage ourselves and our relationships.  If a barking dog is charging at you, you may be self-aware enough to know you are afraid, but you also need to know how to manage your reactivity so that you choose what is appropriate, connected and effective rather than simply doing what is comfortable or what you initially feel like doing.  Successful people are those who deeply desire effective and enjoyable relationships and understand the value of them. They are committed to learning about and teaching EI.  They are willing to invest their time, energy, effort and resources into implementing practices consistent with it in their workplaces, schools and homes. As a result, they are able to create exceptional outcomes.

Why People Hire LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.

You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, April 2007