Components of Emotional Intelligence

To improve your emotional intelligence, it’s important to understand what each component entails. Here’s a closer look at the four categories:

1. Self-awareness
Self-awareness is at the root of everything. It is the ability to understand not only your strengths and weaknesses, but also your emotions and their impact on your and your team’s performance.

According to research by organizational psychologist Tasha Urich, 95 percent of people think they are self-aware, but only 10 to 15 percent actually are, and that can create problems for your employees. Working with colleagues who are not self-aware can cut a team’s success in half and, according to Urich’s research, increase stress and decrease motivation.

To bring out the best in others, you must first bring out the best in yourself, which is where self-awareness comes into play. An easy way to assess your self-awareness is to complete 360-degree feedback, in which you assess your performance and then match it with feedback from your boss, peers and direct reports. Through this process, you will gain insight into your own behavior and discover how you are perceived in the organization.

2. Self-management
Self-management refers to the ability to manage your emotions, especially in stressful situations, and maintain a positive outlook despite setbacks. Leaders who lack self-management tend to react and have a hard time keeping their emotions in check.

A response tends to be automatic. The more in tune you are with your emotional intelligence, the easier it will be to transition from reaction to reaction. It’s important to remember to pause, breathe, collect yourself, and do whatever it takes to manage your emotions — whether that means going for a walk or calling a friend — so you can respond more appropriately and intentionally to stress and adversity.

3. Social awareness
While understanding and managing your own emotions is important, you also need to know how to read a room. Social awareness describes your ability to identify the emotions and dynamics of others within your organization.

Leaders who excel in social awareness practice empathy. They seek to understand the feelings and perspectives of their colleagues, which enables them to communicate and collaborate more effectively with colleagues.

Global leadership development firm DDI ranks empathy as the number one leadership skill, reporting that leaders who excel in empathy perform 40 percent better in coaching, engaging others and making decisions. In a separate study by the Center for Creative Leadership (PDF), researchers found that managers who showed more empathy for their direct reports were viewed by their bosses as better performers.

By communicating with empathy, you can better support your team while improving your individual performance.

4. Relationship management
Relationship management refers to your ability to influence others, coach and mentor, and resolve conflict effectively.

Some prefer to avoid conflict, but it’s important to properly address issues as they arise. Research shows that each unwanted conflict can waste about eight hours of company time on gossip and other unproductive activities, putting a drain on resources and morale.

If you want to keep your team happy, you need to have those tough conversations: In a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 72 percent of employees ranked “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as a top job factor.

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