Tapping Into Your EQ

May 19, 2013

As a result of being curious about almost everything and anything, as well as having a certain comfortability with the English language, I’ve always been able to articulate myself with very little issue.

This, paired with a natural ambition to do unreasonably well has meant that in the past, I’ve mistakenly come across somewhat arrogant or intimidating.

I’m sure at times in the workplace this was off-putting; my own experiences seeing similar traits in other people haven’t left a good impression of those individuals on me either.

Of course in my case, arrogance or intimidation was never my intention. In reality, I’m possibly more open to input and feedback than most others and having an innate proclivity toward the learning process has meant that I’m acutely aware that I don’t know everything.

The truth is, I’ve been surrounded by smart, experienced, capable people, and my attempts then were just to show that I could keep up. I was trying to say, “Hey, I can add value here too”. The reason I was able to work alongside these people though, was that they’d already figured this out — I really didn’t need to prove anything.

Thankfully, the work environment I was in valued meaningful feedback, and a few years ago, after some good conversations with people I looked up to, I worked out how some of these tendencies were perceived.

What I realised I needed to do was make investments in my Emotional Intelligence (or EQ). It wasn’t as though I was intrinsically flawed here, I was just under-utilising my EQ as a valuable leadership skill. EQ at it’s core is really just about learning to manage your emotions in the workplace and to identify where they can be leveraged to reach success.

Daniel Goleman puts it best with the following quote:

“… emotional and social skills give people advantages in realms where such abilities make the most difference, like love and leadership. EQ trumps IQ in ‘soft’ domains, where intellect matters relatively little for success.”

I’ve found so far that in intelligent people I know, they often have a higher tendency to rely on IQ for their success as opposed to EQ. This however contrasts with the most successful people I know, who are more typically compassionate, empathetic, understanding and humble.

To anyone still having trouble over utilising IQ when they could be tapping into their under-utilised EQ here’s what I did to start building and communicating a greater sense of Emotional Intelligence.

Ask questions.
Asking plenty of questions helps to show a healthy level of vulnerability. Counterintuitively, this has the net effect of conveying your comfort in your own knowledge base. Asking for input from others shows that you are open to suggestions and helps break down that barrier of intimidation.

Even if you think you could get by without asking for input from others, collaborate on a task anyway. Of course, don’t do it on something mundane, or something that really only requires one person — this will have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Collaborative efforts will almost always mean better quality work, and will show everyone that you’re truly a team player (I cringe every time I hear the phrase “team player”, but nonetheless, it’s true).

Use ‘We’ instead of ‘I’.
This is easier done if you follow the other suggestions here in this post, as they will automatically invite experiences that involve others. Saying ‘we’ shows that you’re not interested in taking all of the credit, and illustrates how much you value the people around you.

Tell personal stories.
There’s no better way to add credibility and authenticity than to use personal anecdotes and stories. Letting others in to your world will remove any thoughts of coldness or intimidation people have of you (unless you’re ex-Navy SEAL Team 6). I’m still working on this.

Learn new things.
Throwing yourself into an arena where you need to gain a new understanding, or use different skills than you’ve relied on before will help to show others that you’re comfortable not always being right. It’ll also help remind you that you don’t know everything.

Hopefully some of these help. If you happen to be reading this, and need a hand with anything I’ve mentioned here, let me know — you can get hold of me on Twitter with the details below.