Sunday, January 31, 2016

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

One point. Six years after first taking an Emotional Intelligence assessment, I have raised my overall score a whopping one point.

This is what Dr. Covey is talking about when he says "To know and not to do is really not to know."  Six years ago I developed a plan for raising my EQ. I didn't do it. Not one action step.

My commitment to spending 2016 working through the principles of The 8th Habit includes reading and thinking about the books that are mentioned in it, or are at least closely related.  Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is at the heart of Chapter 4: Discover Your Voice. So I am dedicating February to learning more about it.  Um, I am dedicating February to implementing strategies for increasing my own EQ.

Here are the basic EQ skills, according to Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (TalentSmart, 2009).
  • Self-Awareness. The ability to recognize your own emotions in real time, and understanding your own tendencies. My 2016 score: 69 (of 100)
  • Self-Management. Using your self-awareness to employ the space between stimulus and response to choose an appropriate expression of emotion.  My score: 57
  • Social Awareness: The ability to correctly detect the emotions others are feeling and to interpret the emotional cues they are giving. My score: 58
  • Relationship Management: Using self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness to conduct successful interactions with other people. My score: 51
The scores come from the online test available (twice) to those who buy the book.  The website then provides a report recommending which three of the 66 strategies they describe in the book to yield the highest results, given the test-taker's unique patterns and deficiencies. For this go-round TalentSmart recommends that I focus on the skill of self-management and that I do the following: 
  • Breathe Right. Get my brain the oxygen it needs for proper functioning by consciously engaging in deep breathing, both throughout the day as I think of it and in moments of high stress.
  • Count to Ten. Yep, just like the pre-school teacher said. Doing this in conjunction with deep breathing during times when irritation is high should bring about an improvement in my ability to jettison that snarky comment and choose something more productive.  Like a smile.
  • Set Aside Time in Your Day for Problem Solving.  Predicated on the idea that it's hard to make good decisions when I am bouncing around from emotion to emotion, this strategy seeks to make use of quiet time to pre-decide important matters. Interesting, and definitely worth a try.

I like it that there is a physiological strategy as well as behavioral ones. Makes me feel a little less at fault for my situation. (Oh, but wait, taking personal responsibility is the power move. I can make the changes and I can produce the results I seek. No victims here.) I also like it that these strategies are aimed straight at increasing the space between stimulus and response.

In my own defense, my biggest area of weakness in 2010 was self-awareness, and I have raised that score 15 points since then. It's just that I lost ground in the social awareness area, which I attribute to being so far removed from my training as a facilitator.  In recent years I have tended to take contracts where I was doing more consulting in an area of expertise than facilitating as a neutral outsider.  My radar for others' emotions has gotten weak. The truth is I do know how to do that well, I just don't. I bet deep breathing will help this, as will taking care to get enough sleep. That will be an excellent thing to fix as I transition my life to Florida.

At a conference last weekend I had an opportunity to attend a three-hour workshop on emotional intelligence. It was a nice refresher on the basics and provided me with an opportunity to reflect on a recent situation with a volunteer gig I have where a relationship went south in a hurry, never to recover. I do see my own role in that more clearly, both in terms of failing to show more empathy and in terms of exacerbating it with endless rumination. Could someone with a higher EQ have saved the situation? I don't know... but next time the person with the higher EQ will be me.

Learn more about Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the self-assessment by visiting their website at

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