When we think about the factors that make people successful, the first things that come up are Education, Experience, Knowledge, IQ. But the reality is that none of these serve as an adequate predictor as to why one person succeeds and another doesn’t. Instead, it is our level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that is becoming viewed as the #1 predictor of professional success and personal excellence. As a society, we continue to focus most of our self-development energy in the pursuit of knowledge, experience, intelligence, and education. But it’s vital to simultaneously gain a better understanding of our own emotions, and of how what we do and say affects the emotions of others. EQ is about how smart with are with the human connection, in other words, how effectively we manage ourselves and our relationships. In the book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” authors Travis Bradberry & Jean Graves offer specific strategies for developing EQ. This podcast shares ideas based on concepts from this and other books about EQ.


Long before Emotional Intelligence was a popular concept, I heard Jim Rohn offer this nugget … He said “Our emotions must be educated, as well as our intellect.” 

Yes, it’s important to know WHAT to do or WHAT to say, but it’s at least equally important to know HOW to present oneself and HOW to act and HOW to manage one’s emotions in the process of our day to day activities.

As a society, we continue to focus most of our self-development energy in the pursuit of knowledge, experience, intelligence, and education.  But it’s vital to simultaneously gain a better understanding of our own emotions, and of how what we do and say affects the emotions of others.  EQ is about how smart with are with the human connection, in other words, how effectively we manage ourselves and our relationships.

First, we can break down Emotional Intelligence under 2 primary competencies: Personal Competence & Social Competence. 

Each of these 2 competencies has 2 facets, creating 4 total components of EQ.

Personal Competence is made up of your self-awareness and self-management skills.  This is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.

How many of you have noticed specific times or incidents in your life when you have a tendency to get a little out of control emotionally?  Maybe something that triggers anger or impatience?  Maybe a person in your life? I know that for me, driving can trigger these emotions.  Not so much traffic … I’ve learned to handle that … but more so, when someone seems rude or discourteous, like when uses the shoulder or an exit lane to bypass traffic, or speeds up AFTER you signal for a lane change.

The first step to Emotional Intelligence is to RECOGNIZE these moments.

Then, you have to learn how to manage yourself in these moments.

It’s not always easy.

Social Competence is made up of your social awareness and your relationship management skills.  This is your ability to recognize and understand OTHER PEOPLE’s moods, behavior, and motives in order to improve the quality of your interactions and relationships.

Have you ever had someone give you feedback about yourself, and you totally disagreed with them?  Well, here’s an important concept for you to chew on:  PERCEPTION IS REALITY.

THEIR perception of you IS their reality.  Not what you think or what you are trying to portray.  So, if you have people in your life who are willing to give you constructive feedback from time to time, BE GRATEFUL because they are helping you to increase your social awareness.

So, let’s talk about these 4 parts to Emotional Intelligence …

1) We’ll start with Self-Awareness.

This is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your own tendencies.

What makes you get angry?

What makes you feel frustrated or impatient?

Merely THINKING about these things will make you more self-aware.

It’s also important not to be afraid of your “emotional mistakes” because these moments help you LEARN about yourself, as long as you recognize and learn the lessons.  Again, this is where feedback from others can be so valuable to you.

There are ways to notice low marks in the 4 core competencies.  As I share these, see if anything resonates as a characteristic of yourself.  Lack of self-awareness can be seen in these traits:

• Someone who comes across as defensive – They always have to explain away any faults that others notice or comment on.

• Someone with aggressive tone or language – A constant condescending tone of voice is the surest sign of someone with a lack of self-awareness.

• An overwhelming personality – Someone who takes all the air out of the room usually isn’t even aware of how they are being perceived.

• Someone who doesn’t notice when another person is feeling annoyed or frustrated – They miss the signs that they are getting off track.

• Someone who’s overly passionate, to the point where that passion gets in the way – There’s a time and a place for passionate communication, but when you’re like that at the wrong times — which is most of the time — people become less open to what you have to say.

• Overall, a lack of self-awareness is characterized as someone who just doesn’t see how they are being perceived by others.  Did anything on that list describe you?

To improve your self-awareness, here are some strategies you can keep in mind:

• Know who and what pushes your buttons. This opens the door to managing your reactions.

• Observe the ripple effect from your emotions.  Notice what achieves the desired result and what backfires.  And Learn from your mistakes.

• Lean into your discomfort.  Move toward and eventually THROUGH the feelings that will motivate you to change.  Don’t be afraid to take on challenging conversations, as that is exactly what will help you grow.

• Visit your values. Ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to be?

How would the person I want to become act in this situation?

• Seek feedback. This is the most reliable way to gain different perspectives.

2) The second component of EQ is Self-Management.

This is your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior appropriately.

This means managing your emotional reactions to situations and people.

It also means an ability to commit yourself to what you want MOST over what you want NOW … that’s a good one to think about … what you want MOST over what you want NOW.

You can notice a lack of self-management when you see things like this:

• Someone who lets their emotions rule their behavior –  They easily get off track throughout the day based on the whims of the moment.

• Someone who reacts very quickly to things others say – particularly emotional reactions like showing frustration.

• Someone who stresses out very easily and panics when stressed – They are clearly having a hard time regulating their own emotions.

• Someone who frequently comes across as harsh or insensitive – Again, this person is typically reacting without really considering how their words and actions will affect others.

• Or someone who wears their emotions on their sleeve – Normally, someone who this describes is very susceptible to putting their proverbial foot in their mouth.

Did anything on that list resemble you?

Here are some strategies for improving self-management:

• Practice patience in all settings.  Many years ago, I went to a seminar where a guy gave out red clown noses as a reminder to lighten up and relax.  I put one of those in the door of my car, and whenever I got into a really bad traffic jam, I would put on the clown nose, roll down my windows, turn on some favorite songs, and sing the lyrics as loud as I could.  People passing by would laugh hysterically, and this in turn would keep me in a good mood!  This helped me learn to regulate my own frustration.

• Another strategy for improving self-management is to Wait a few seconds before responding. You don’t always have to blurt out the first thought that comes to your mind.  Have you guys seen the Dave Chappelle skit about “Keeping it Real.”  Yeah, it doesn’t work out so well for the lady in the skit.

• In high stress situations, you want to slow down.  CALM DOWN, Slow your pace, slow your speech, slow your responses.

• Set aside some time each day for problem-solving.  Take a few minutes AWAY FROM THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT to sit in silence and think about important situations you are facing in your life.  This helps ensure that your decisions aren’t muddled by your emotions.

• Take control of your self-talk

– Stop saying things like, “I always …” or “I never …”  Stop speaking in absolutes like that.

– Replace judgmental statements like “I’m not good at ….” with factual ones like “I didn’t do well last time” or “I made a mistake.”

With awareness and real effort, we can all gradually improve our skill of self-management.

3) The third component of EQ is Social Awareness. This is your ability to accurately perceive what others are thinking and feeling, even when it’s different from what you are feeling.

Do you know anyone who constantly puts their foot in their mouth?  I once saw a man encounter a lady he hadn’t seen in a while.  The lady had gained some weight, and as a joke, he literally asked her, “Are you expecting?”  Can you believe that?!?  Well this is an extreme example of something most of us do ALL THE TIME.  We use the wrong words or the wrong tone or the wrong timing.

Listening and observing are the most important elements of social awareness.  To listen well and observe what’s going on around us, we have to stop doing many of the things we like to do:

– First, we have to stop talking.  It’s been said that we all have 2 ears and one mouth, and we should use them in that proportion.

– We have to stop the monologue that’s running through our minds.  That monologue is simply us repeating all of our long-held beliefs or perceptions, and what’s important to understand here is that these beliefs are merely interpretations of our own experiences.  They aren’t necessarily based in reality, so calm that little voice in your head, or at least be more aware of its pitfalls.

– We have to stop anticipating the point the other person is going to make.  When you do that, you naturally stop listening intently and you can miss things that are important.

– We have to stop thinking about what we are going to say next.  Same thing there, you miss important things that people say.

This takes a lot of practice.

You’ll notice a lack of social awareness when you see things like this:

• Someone who offers their opinion without fully understanding the situation first.  They don’t need to listen anymore because they already know the answer, right?!?

• Also, someone whose body language makes it apparent that they are not listening.  They’re looking away, checking their phone, clearly disinterested.

• Someone who imposes “their way” most of the time is another sign of a lack of social awareness.  Working in Vector (if you do), you will become GREAT at influencing people.  It’ll become much easier for you to get your way, but what’s important is to save that influence for things that really matter to you.  A good rule is that if you don’t feel super-strongly about something, let others have their way most of the time.

• Another sign here is someone who gets bogged down in details that don’t matter and loses sight of what’s most important.  They argue over insignificant points.

• Or also someone who says “blah blah blah” when “blah” will do.  When simple, concise, direct communication will do, there’s no need to blab on.

Which of those descriptions of a lack of social awareness might have resembled you?

Here are some strategies for improving social awareness:

• Greet people by name, and smile more.  This starts off your interactions with a positive feeling.

• Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Try to imagine how they view the situation.

• Practice active listening. Particularly, be aware of your body language.  Look people in the eyes and nod your head slightly while they are talking to you.

• Seek the whole picture. Ask questions to clarify until you understand more.

• Understand the importance of timing.  You have to recognize when it’s a good idea to press an issue and when it’s better just to drop it.

4) Those last keys tie right into the 4th component of EQ, Relationship Management. This is your ability to use the other 3 elements of Emotional Intelligence in order to have more successful interactions with other people.

People with great relationship management skills are good at connecting with all sorts of different types of people, including many people that they are not necessarily fond of.

Now a lack of relationship management is characterized by things like this:

• Someone who minimizes others’ points of view or experience – they brush people off because they’re convinced that what THEY think is right.

• Someone who’s too blunt – A better way to present information that might be disturbing to someone is to hint at what is coming first, before you actually say it.

• Someone who is confrontational when expressing disagreement – instead of expressing disagreement in a matter-of-fact, non-emotional way, they get way too emotional and put the other person back on their heels.

• Another sign is someone who loses their cool on a regular basis – anger-management problems are the surest sign of someone who lacks relationship management skills.

• Also, someone who achieves results, but at the expense of others – They accomplish a lot of things, but they run over people in the process.

Anything sound familiar there?

Some ways you can improve relationship management include these:

• First, be open-minded to all ideas. Don’t rush to judgment.  Sometimes, the best ideas can come from unexpected places, so develop a habit of really considering things that are presented to you.  “What if she’s right?” is a good question for you to consider a lot more often.

• Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and/or intentions.  This helps show people clearly that you DO understand their perspective, and it’s the starting point of a constructive conversation.

• Only get mad on purpose.  You should become known as the kind of person who RARELY gets angry.  Raising your voice should be something you reserve for when it REALLY matters.  Then, it has more power.

• And when you care, show it.  Don’t miss the opportunities you have to say and do nice things for other people.  Every small act is like a brick to build your castle of stronger relationships.

• Last, take feedback well. Feedback is a unique gift. You never know what you’re going to open up. But you have to be grateful, because clearly, the other person cares enough about you to share something with you. Use your self-management skills to avoid reacting. Then take time to think about what you could learn from the feedback.

So, to review, there are 4 key components of Emotional Intelligence.

The personal competencies are Self-Awareness and Self-Management.

The social competencies are Social Awareness and Relationship Management.

Here’s an interesting sidenote … 

The authors of the book I referenced earlier studied EQ based on different age groups, and came up with some interesting observations.  The most telling observation was the vast difference in self-management scores from older people and Baby Boomers down to Gen X (me) and down to Gen Yers or Millennials, which were the youngest group studied at the time the book was written.

Of course, some of this difference is due merely to the fact that self-management skills typically grow as we get older.  But it was also clear that Millennials were the group most likely to lose control when things don’t go their way, and that probably translates over to those of you in Gen Z, which is probably a lot of the people in this audience. 

The good news is that you have been exposed to this concept here today, AND you are working in a place where you get to practice these skills all the time!  You will all be so far ahead of your peers when it comes to self-management and leadership abilities in the future.

Remember, EQ is the #1 predictor of professional success and personal excellence.

Higher EQ means more success, more responsibility, and greater pay.

You are all on the right road now to having all these things!



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