What is “emotional intelligence”? It’s important to clarify what is meant by the term – it’s a big phrase. In speaking to others about emotional intelligence you may receive responses like “it is someone’s’ level of maturity” or “they way they work with others”; these are all aspects of emotional intelligence, but they don’t fully capture the spectrum of what emotional intelligence can influence in your career or how it is best applied.
If you Google the phrase you’ll get a lot of hits. All of them represent similar themes but you’ll also notice subtle differences in emphasis. It can be confusing. One of the reasons for this is that emotional intelligence touches on so many aspects of our professional and personal lives that it’s represented many different ways through many different “lenses”.
A definition I find useful comes from one of the most widely used tools in emotional intelligence assessment, the EQ-i 2.0 from Multi-Health Systems (MHS); they define emotional intelligence as “a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.”
Awareness is a key component of EI – it’s hard to use a strength to it’s full potential or improve something when you don’t have a clear picture of what it is and how it’s either helping or challenging you in your professional life. Many of us have faced this task and may feel that no matter what changes we’ve made it hasn’t been as effective as we’d like it to be (or worth all the effort). An EQ-i assessment can build this level of awareness and provides a solid base line so you clearly see what to focus your energy on, informing your strategy moving forward to get results. There are many ways to build self-awareness; seeking direct feedback, debriefing critical points of work and/or assessment are great options. Assessment provides a keen advantage, as it is less time-consuming then capturing this “snapshot” one-on-one with colleagues and managers; it also allows you to pursue this privately, rather then through the medium of direct feedback (and the discomfort that sometimes follows a professional feedback request). Assessment provides a documented and objective snapshot of the many facets of your emotional and social skills and how effectively you are applying them in your professional life.
When thinking about your EI development consider the definition of EI and what strengthening these skills could mean for your career. Consider the value of a comprehensive base line from a recognized assessment tool as a way to help you on a productive path towards increasing (and showcasing) your full professional potential.