What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI for short) is a term that originally came about in the 1990’s. Two scientists noticed that although everyone has intelligence, there is another level of thinking that connects between the logical and emotional areas of your brain. This type of intelligence is often found in successful people and it is not dependent on their IQ intelligence. It is more about empathy and understanding and can be used by people to influence their environment and their relationships with other people.
Understanding and using EI can be of significant value to businesses in the hairdressing, beauty, holistic and health & fitness sectors.
What does it do?
People who have EI are often thought of as having empathy. They are seen to care about other people’s feelings before their own. They are thoughtful, motivated and are good at solving problems and resolving issues. Basically, they can just get on with everyone and every situation so this does make them more likely to be successful in their personal and business lives as they can literally think themselves into better positions and easily build friendships and allies.
How does it work?
Emotional intelligence gives you a small gap in time between someone saying something to you and your response. During this time your brain and emotions work together to consider how best to react. So for something that could make you angry or even cry, like someone telling you that you have done something wrong, your first reaction might be to shout at them, deny it, or even accuse them of lying. But by using EI, your brain would think “hold on a minute – what is that person doing? – what are they trying to make me do? – and do I want to do that?”. So you might respond differently from what they expect, maybe shrugging your shoulders and saying “Yes, maybe I did make a mistake, what shall we do to sort this out?” Or by just smiling – totally disarming them and calmly asking them to explain further.
So you see that this can be a useful tool to dampen down emotional outbursts and to let people see that you are calm and in control. It allows you to walk through a situation as it unfolds without stress and fear, and then to react in a positive way. It’s all about empathy not ego. It’s the key element in the practice of “Mindfulness” – being in control of your thoughts and your mind.
Do I have emotional intelligence?
Yes you do! Everyone is born with IE, but it develops more in some people than in others. It has been found to be affected by how secure and caring the relationships in your formative years were and having bad relations with those around you at that time can have a negative impact on how you interact with people on a daily basis.
But the good news is that emotional intelligence can be re-learnt by your mind if you make some changes to the way you think. At first you would need to check yourself and think “right, what do I need to do?” but after a while this can become second nature.
What makes up emotional intelligence?
Self Awareness – being aware of your own feelings and motives. It involves gently and patiently observing your thoughts as they come into your head rather than being instantly carried away by them.
Self Regulation – being able to think through things and to decide how to react instead of making impulsive decisions. Think carefully about the consequences of your actions before you decide how to proceed.
Motivation – someone who has EI can see the whole picture and is likely to have a positive attitude to situations they find themself in and to the people around them.
Empathy – feeling sympathy and understanding towards others can help you to make decisions that are to the benefit of everyone involved and not based solely upon your own ego and desires.
Social Skills – those with EI work well as part of a team, taking time to make sure that everyone is included and to make them feel that their opinions are valued, resulting in a happier, motivated and more successful team. They are good at managing relationships, enabling them to deal with customers and staff in a friendly and supportive way that prevents conflict and stress and thereby enhances their business.
So how can you improve your Emotional Intelligence?
Try to see things from the other person’s point of view – Don’t think of your own situation first – think of those affected by what is happening, how the situation could help them and what they would like to happen.
Be humble – Promote other people’s ideas and let them take the credit for it. Seeing how it brings them happiness and builds their confidence can be very satisfying and can help you build a good working relationship with your team.
Practice staying calm – When something (or someone) bad happens, take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before you respond – sometimes this will even mean that you don’t need to respond – someone else may jump in and make a suggestion to help diffuse the situation. You could even walk away from a situation if you need to and get a few moments of calm to consider your thoughts and reactions.
Take responsibility – Although none of us like criticism, it can lead us to grow and progress. So listen and try not to show feelings of anger, and if something actually was your fault then accept it and try to be part of the solution. Blame is a negative thing and is best avoided; it’s much better to concentrate on resolving and improving situations.
Try to control your emotions – the most basic way to start to do this is to smile whenever you feel like grimacing or screaming. And it can be a great way to disarm someone who wants to rile you up by not letting them get to you.
How emotional intelligence can help managers
So now, if you have followed the above guidelines and are seeing changes in your outlook towards your staff and clients, you will find that using EI can help you to oversee and manage people. It will make you more approachable and encouraging to others and you will be seen as a calming influence in your workplace – someone to turn to when the chips are down or the feathers are flying, which will really help with problem solving and the smooth running of your business.
How to know if people see you as having emotional intelligence
So whether you are reading this and thinking of giving it a try, or if you can see that you already have some of the skills and personality traits that we’ve been talking about – here is a list of how people view those with EI and if you can tick off several of these, then you are well on your way to using your EI instinctively!
- You are viewed as caring and a good listener by the people around you
- You are a calming influence and good at diffusing emotional situations
- You get along with all types of people and in all situations
- You are not afraid to admit if you are wrong
- You always listen to other people before commenting on their actions or judging them
- You are seen as a problem solver and always have lots of new ideas
- You consider other people before yourself and try to include everyone
- You are not easily offended
- You do not hold a grudge and can move on from a bad situation without dwelling on it
- Finally, you always understand yourself and your feelings and are happy to discuss these with other people without fear of judgement, helping them to understand their feelings too.
So emotional intelligence is a great skill to have and can be used to benefit yourself, your business and those around you – without them even realising!