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OPINION: Emotional intelligence a key to success

As a consultant to the UN for the past seven years, I have had the privilege of serving many leaders and teams around the world.

As a consultant to the UN for the past seven years, I have had the privilege of serving many leaders and teams around the world. One common question asked, regardless of culture, is, “How can we develop effective partnerships to get the results we want?”

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a key in addressing this challenge.  EI is about the art and skill of healthy relationship-building, with yourself and others.  It’s a core ingredient to success – however you define it.  Our professional and personal lives are shaped largely by how we cultivate affirming relationships.

There are four domains of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.  Each aspect influences how we deal with our emotions, beliefs and impulses, which then determines our behaviour.

EI can be used to increase performance in our work and personal lives.  According to Travis Bradberry, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0., EI is so critical to success it accounts for 58% of job performance, making “EQ” even more important than our IQ.  Because Emotional intelligence is not innate, this capacity can be enhanced with commitment and practice.

Here are a few questions to ponder:

  • How do you relate with unpleasant emotions?
  • Do you understand what motivates or triggers you?
  • What is the quality of your listening?
  • How do you handle conflict when unmet needs arise?

Strategies to build EI include:

  • Set aside regular time for reflection and practice gentle yet radical self-honesty
  • Lean into your discomfort. If upset, breathe, step out of blame and into curiosity.
  • Listen with empathy to nonverbal messages or the ‘music between the notes’.
  • Access the courage to have tough but crucial conversations.

While easier said than done, it is an EI practice to be patient and disciplined as we flex these muscles.  Developing emotional intelligence is a life-long journey, but well worth the effort.  As anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Ultimately, the only thing that matters in life is the quality of our relationships.”

Elizabeth Soltis is a Sarnia-based leadership facilitator, empowerment coach and organizational development consultant. She is offering a public EI workshop on April 6 and 13.  Customized corporate and community workshops can be arranged by contacting her at 226 886 1087, or [email protected].

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