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Emotional Intelligence

The ability to use your emotions in a positive and constructive way in relationships with others.

What Emotional Intelligence Means

Emotional intelligence is one of several types of intelligence required for success in all kinds of situations. People have different abilities in dealing with emotions just like they have different abilities in language, logic, mathematics, and music.

Sam is 70 years old. He still gets around pretty well and is able to handle the details of his life including his banking. Unfortunately, Sam is a little hard to understand because his voice is harsh and gravelly. He sounds like he has something wrong with his vocal chords.

One Monday morning, Sam went to the bank to get some cash. He asked the teller to give him cash with his credit card. The teller spoke loudly to Sam (apparently assuming he was deaf because his speech was hard to understand). She said that she didn’t understand what he wanted and that his credit card had expired. Then Sam spoke loudly to her and said he needed $50 in cash. By this time, everyone in the bank, including the security guard, was watching and listening. Both Sam and the teller were very frustrated and Sam was obviously embarrassed.

The customer behind Sam went to the manager and quietly explained the situation. The manager joined the discussion and calmly invited Sam to come into his office to take care of his problem. In a few minutes, Sam was smiling and explaining what he needed. The teller returned to the rest of the customers and diplomatically apologized for keeping them waiting. Once everyone started using emotional intelligence, business returned to normal.

In the article, “Promoting Social and Emotional Learning,” Maurice J. Elias and others say that emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and express your emotions to meet the requirements of day-to-day living, learning, and relating to others.

It is important to use emotional intelligence because it will help you to…

Solve problems by using both logic and feelings.

Be flexible in changing situations.

Help other people express their needs.

Calmly and thoughtfully respond to difficult people.

Keep an optimistic and positive outlook.

Continuously learn how to improve yourself and your organization.

The Need for “People Smart” Strategies

Today, our lives are filled with change and “busy-ness” at home and at work. When the pace of life was slower and more predictable, it was easier to be pleasant, calm, peaceful, and thoughtful. The old expectations about work relationships just do not apply anymore.

You have to figure out how to interact with people in new and different ways because…

The variety of people you deal with everyday challenges you to be flexible and adaptive in your communications.

Constant pressure and stress make you tired and irritable so that it is hard to stay calm and thoughtful.

An increasing number of employees believe they have less control over their work and their lives than they did in the past. They complain and express pessimism about their future.

Instead of learning these skills from positive role models in the family, many organizations have to teach people how to communicate respectfully to their associates and customers.

Rude behavior at work is on the rise. Some blame the increase on the “lean-and-mean” trend toward doing more with less. More demands on fewer employees have led to unchecked incivility.

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, claims, “Emotional-intelligence-based capabilities are twice as important for star performance as IQ and technical skills combined.”

Research indicates that the biggest reason that managers fail is poor interpersonal skills. According to The Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, roughly half of all managers have problems relating to their associates and employees.

Assess Your Emotional Intelligence

Improve your emotional intelligence skills through objective assessment, learning, and practice—the same way you would improve skills in mathematics, language, sports, or music. Start your personal improvements by assessing your current level of emotional intelligence, using the following four-step process.

Prepare Yourself

Respond to the following questions by being honest and objective about what you actually do now. Choose a focus such as “on-the-job,” “with your family,” or “on a non-profit board of trustees.”

Or, have another person complete the questions based on his or her observations of you. Select someone who knows you well and whom you trust to give you objective, helpful feedback. This person could be your immediate supervisor, a business associate, or a team member. Select a spouse or close friend to complete the assessment if you wish to increase emotional intelligence in your personal life.

Complete the Assessment

Be as honest and objective as you can when you respond to the following statements. Do you believe that you do the following things more than 75% of the time? If you agree, circle “YES.”

1. I am aware when I start to become angry or defensive. YES
2. When I am dealing with others’ anger, I keep relaxed and goal-oriented. YES
3. I remain cheerful and enjoy working with new ideas. YES
4. I follow through on assignments, support others, and build trust. YES
5. Despite setbacks and problems, I continue to work on projects in a calm manner. YES
6. I use positive thinking even when I am in a conflict or in a difficult situation. YES
7. I can feel and “see” things from another viewpoint. YES
8. Before I make a decision or take an action, I listen to others’ ideas. YES
9. When I communicate with others, I help them feel good. YES
10. To resolve conflicts, I encourage honest and respectful discussion. YES
11. I help people who hold different opinions to reach agreement. YES
12. When I am making changes, I consider the feelings of others. YES
13. I am aware of when I start to use negative thinking. YES
14. I practice stress management to be calm and healthy. YES
15. I have a good sense of humor. YES

Score the Assessment

How many times did you circle “YES”? _____

The overall assessment of your current emotional intelligence is as follows:

13-15 = Very high 10-12 = High 7-9 = Average 4-6 = Below average 1-3 = Far below average

Assess Your Current Strengths and Weaknesses

Each of the 15 statements listed in the assessment on the previous page reflects your emotional skill level in one of five emotional intelligence skill categories: Self-Awareness, Social Skills, Optimism, Emotional Control, and Flexibility. To interpret your score in each group, match each “YES” you circled in the previous list with each Y in the following table. Be sure to circle each “YES” across the row for every statement.

For example, if you circled “YES” to Statement 1, then circle all the Y’s in that row. On the other hand, if you did not circle “YES” for 1, you would circle nothing in that row.

Five Emotional Intelligence Skills
Statement Number Self-Awareness Social Skills Optimism Emotional Control Flexibility
1 Y    
2 Y Y  Y Y
3   Y Y 
4 Y Y Y  
5 Y  Y Y Y
6 Y  Y Y Y
7  Y   
8  Y Y Y Y
9  Y Y  Y
10 Y Y  Y Y
11  Y  Y Y
12 Y Y   
13 Y  Y  Y
14    Y 
15   Y  
Skill Total     

Review your results for each set of skills. For example, if you scored 8 for self-awareness, then your interpretation is very high for that skill. Write your interpretation in the last row under each skill.


8 = Very high 6-7 = High 4-5 = Average 2-3 = Below average 0-1 = Far below average

Five Emotional Intelligence Skills

The five emotional intelligence skills are a combination of several researchers’ work on emotional intelligence. Following is a summary of the five skills. There are detailed explanations, strategies, examples, and learning tools in the rest of this book.

Self-Awareness Skills (see Parts I and III)

Emotionally intelligent people are aware of how they feel, what motivates and de-motivates them and how they affect others.

Social Skills (see Parts II and III)

Emotionally intelligent people communicate and relate well with others. They listen intently and adapt their communications to others’ unique needs.

Optimism (see Parts I and III)

Emotionally intelligent people have a positive and optimistic outlook on life. Their mental attitude energizes them to work steadily towards goals despite setbacks.

Emotional Control (see Parts I and III)

Emotionally intelligent people handle stress calmly. They deal with emotionally stressful situations such as change and interpersonal conflicts.

Flexibility Skills (see Parts II and III)

Emotionally intelligent people adapt to changes. They use problem-solving to develop options.

Prepare to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence Skills

If you completed the self-assessment alone, respond to the following.

My best emotional intelligence skills are (select skills with a “high” or “very high” rating) _________________________________________________


My emotional intelligence skills most in need of improvement are (select skills with a “below average” or “far below average” rating)



The emotional intelligence skills that are most important for me to improve are ________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

If you and another person completed your self-assessment, schedule a meeting to discuss the result. Use the spaces below to record your discussion.

The emotional intelligence skills that you both rate “high” or “very high” are ________________________________________________________________



The emotional intelligence skills that you both rate “below average” or “far below average” are ____________________________________________



The emotional intelligence skills that are most important for you to improve are ________________________________________________________


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