I have been studying emotional intelligence over the last few months and drilling down into various definitions. My overall conclusion is I don’t like the academic definitions I have read about or heard from various folks.
So here is my takeaway on what I believe emotional intelligence is at its core: It is trusting your intuitions, controlling your emotions and factoring in your observations to make timely decisions and take timely action.
In any service business, you have to depend upon your gut at times to make a decision. A lot of this goes back to just having a keen sixth sense on situations. This is what trusting your intuition is all about as part of the EQ definition/formula. Reading people or the situation the right way and then trusting your intuition to do what needs to be done.
Now to do this right, you also have to control your emotions. Lose your emotion and you lose your respect and eventually your credibility. People with a high EQ very, very rarely get upset. They remain calm and carry on. They avoid unnecessary drama.
Finally, one must factor in observations. When you factor in what you are seeing, observe something that needs fixing and then do it, you are leaning on your EQ skills. I have seen such “factoring in” totally change the tone and overall chemistry of a meeting. People with high EQ do these things naturally. It is like riding a bike for them. Others around them see it and recognize it and want to know more. It strikes them as a brilliant move while the high EQ person just did what she or he thought was natural.
This leads me to the final piece of the definition. The EQ moment really materializes when you make a timely decision and take timely action. This is the secret sauce. Trust your intuition, control your emotions factor it all in and then – boom – make the decision and take the action that is needed. That is magic. This is the difference — oftentimes a lasting difference.
So can EQ be learned?
I have asked this question to people who have extreme emotional intelligence. The consensus is it can be learned in some ways but in other ways you either have it or you don’t. But for those people who want to improve their EQ skills, they can move it up a notch or two.
How? Pick someone who has a high EQ and study them. One of the EQ leaders I study is Dr. Tim Elmore, CEO of Growing Leaders. Watching Tim use his EQ gifts is like watching Ted Williams swing a baseball bat. It is poetry in motion. I have learned a lot from Tim, mainly to strive to be a genuine student of the art of business and relationship building. Business is both art and science. The art part still matters perhaps more than ever today in these tumultuous times.