12 Ways To Know if you have Emotional Intelligence

Once I read an article that said, if you were in a gathering with Bill Clinton, he could make you feel like you are the only person in the whole room. You were special, you were important. He could centre his whole world around you. To me, that’s a great example of ‘feeling and seeing’ Emotional Intelligence in action.


Closer home, I remember a meeting where we were discussing a project with a client. He was a little edgy because the project was far away from meeting the deadline. Tension building up and the nervous energy could be felt in the air. At this point my CEO matched his edginess and demonstrated that he was equally concerned. Soon everyone began to function as a highly collaborative group towards the goal. What he had done was showcase empathy. His behaviour said “I understand how much this means to you. I know that you are disturbed about it. Lets see how best we can address this situation together” Years of research has shown that IQ being equal, the key determinant of success is your Emotional Intelligence. It’s that intangible which differentiates us from rest of the crowd. EI is really about how we manage behaviour, navigate through social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve best results.

EI is not just a single ability but has several aspects to it. Its possible that we may have acquired some of them over time and we may not possess others. But the good news is that we can all acquire it. With conscious and deliberate practice.

Here are some of the signs of having Emotional Intelligence:

1. You use a wide range of vocabulary for emotions: Most of us use the words jealousy and envy interchangeably. Very few can tell the difference between the two. Envy is between two people - I am envious of my friend’s success. Jealousy is between three people. I feel jealous when my friend flirts with my boyfriend. One stems from greed, while the other from fear of loss. Emotionally intelligent people are able to put the correct words to emotions. Rest of us use generic words such as “I feel bad” when they could be feeling annoyed, irritated, depressed or frustrated. The more you develop your Emotional Intelligence, the better you become with your “EMOTIONS” vocabulary. Hence use a far wider vocabulary to convey emotions.

2. A more accurate assessment of your own abilities: When you have relatively well developed EI, you are able to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, you are also able to perceive others’ reactions to your strengths and weaknesses. Both these data points put together are able to give you an accurate assessment of yourself.

It also means that when you accurately perceive yourself, you also know the areas you’d like to improve upon and take conscious steps towards improvement.

3. Active Listening: When someone starts to talk, we are usually already preparing our response to what’s being said rather than pay complete attention to words, the emotion, to the hand gestures and the body language. In the process we miss out on important aspects of communication. Emotionally Intelligent people make good eye contact, pay complete attention (and not look at their gadgets), interrupt only to ask clarification questions. Making the other person feel like the most important person in that moment. This is fantastic tool to build relationships.

4. Empathy: This means you not hear the words that the other person is saying, but also understanding the emotion that’s lying beneath those words. This also comes from Active Listening because you are sensing a lot more information than just the words but also the tone, pitch and facial expressions that accompany those words. Empathy goes a long way in helping us build deep and compassionate relationships, which needless to say can be immensely rewarding.

5. Forgiving mistakes: Others’ as well as your own. While we may look at mistakes as failures, Emotionally intelligent people look at mistakes as learning experiences and opportunities to grow. They forgive others easily, but they do pick out appropriate moments to provide feedback as well.

6. Giving feedback: Usually when we have to provide feedback to subordinates, colleagues or anyone else we ourselves are on the defensive for fear of becoming the ‘bad guy’. Most of us need an attitude over-haul on this one. If we really think

about it, we are giving someone an opportunity to grow by giving them valuable feedback. But don’t give out your precious gift of feedback to everyone. Make sure the recipient is worthy of that feedback. Otherwise it’s just unsolicited advice. Emotional Intelligence is giving feedback where the recipient has been primed to be in this state of mind so he is looking forward to it. On the same token when people with Emotional Intelligence receive feedback they do so with an open mind, asking questions about the feedback, not getting angry or defensive, evaluating its validity before implementing it.

7. Catching and stopping negative self talk: Failures cause us to become our worst enemies. Berating ourselves, treating ourselves poorly, and generally blaming us for all things going wrong. The more we ruminate on these thoughts, the more powerful we make them. Most of our negative thoughts are just thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just our brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (over-estimating the severity or frequency of a situation). Emotionally intelligent people are able to distinguish thoughts from the facts and therefore steering to a more positive self talk.

8. Staying optimistic: Falling multiple times causes us to become pessimistic. It is a natural human tendency to want to give up in this situation. Staying optimistic in the face of failure needs super-human effort. Those of us who lack emotional intelligence view failure as their own mistake. Emotionally Intelligent folks know sometimes its their fault but most of the time it also be the situational factors at play. Hence they develop more resilience and the ability to get up to try again. Or they are able to challenge their own beliefs about the causes of failure and replace with completely new perspectives they become more optimistic and are able to perform better.

9. Better time management: Often times, we have the motivation to do something but we would carry on getting dragged down by a strong force of time wasters. These time wasters appear in the form of mindlessly watching TV or worse, playing a game on the phone while watch TV. We want to stop doing this and get to the planned task, but the magnetism of TV/games/texting/social media or just surfing the net is so strong that we can not get to our job. Emotionally

intelligent people are able to put themselves into ‘Time Locks’ - which is to say that they lock themselves to focus on just that one task and not touch anything else while on that task. In other words - their impulse inhibition is way stronger so as to keep them on track.

10. You have stress management techniques ready: Emotionally intelligent people know that stressful situations can crop up anytime. They won’t necessarily send us an advance notice. Therefore, thinking about how to cope with it that point in time may not work. Since we know that, in stressful situations, our cognitive abilities do not work best. Hence to counter that, Emotionally intelligent people will have their coping strategy ready to be deployed in this stressful situations.

11. You realise the importance of disconnecting: Our new age habits of constantly being on our smartphones, tablets etc gave way to words as phantom vibration, rinxiety, FOMO and so on. Eventually these add up to become a big source of stress and other mental health issues. Also this expectation of 24X7 connectivity and hence real time response can possibly cause us more mental harm than we realise. Emotional Intelligence is in disconnecting your mind and body from this constant pressure and just be by yourself preferably in a natural surrounding to recuperate.

12. Authenticity: Our inner realities begin to match our outer interactions, we shed our masks and begin to become our true authentic selves. This congruence makes us stressfree, more positive and we begin to walk towards our true purpose in life. So, in a sense we begin to feel more fulfilled and accepting of ourselves and others.

And finally…

Unlike our IQ, which is largely fixed by our adolescence, our EQ/EI can be evolved and grown. These are just a set of learned responses which we are so used to giving, that they become our automatic behaviour. It takes a lot of focus and hours and hours of deliberate practice, but we can break the neural connections which we call habits and our new behaviours which are Emotionally Intelligent

will begin to emerge. And lastly, EI is not something that you acquire one fine day, but a journey that you choose mindfully, every single day.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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