Developing relationships requires more than just being nice. I started working with a somewhat reluctant coaching client who was told- quite frankly- that he would never rise to the level of leadership he desired until he worked on his interpersonal skills. He thought he was “nice enough” to everyone, but people could not ignore how his tendencies for angry outbursts, teasing, impatience, passing the blame and exceptionally high expectations for himself and others weren’t serving him well. Though he had the ability to drive strong results for the company, he finally accepted that he needed to change in order to get where he wanted to be some day.
Experts now acknowledge that emotional intelligence (EI tor EQ), a term coined in the 1990s by Daniel Goleman, is perhaps the most crucial determinant of success in the workplace. For leaders, having specific skills and experience is not enough. No matter how many degrees or qualifications a person has, if they don’t have certain emotional qualities, they are unlikely to succeed. You need to go beyond standard job expectations and show that you have what it takes to lead within the organization’s culture, work in teams, adjust to change and be flexible. Without exceptionally strong interpersonal skills, your ability to communicate, collaborate and interact with different types of people is at risk.
As my coaching client soon learned, it’s much more than just “being nice”. People with high EQ and interpersonal skills are likely to rise quickly as leaders because they have many positive personality traits, have social graces, use appropriate language, are aware of their personal habits and how they impact others, and are friendly and optimistic. Emotional Intelligence also impacts team building and leadership skills like self-motivation, self-awareness, empathy, mood management and the ability to build trust, rapport and respect.
As the workplace continues to evolve, making room for new technologies and innovations, constantly requires leading through change. These qualities will become increasingly important for leaders. And, the good news is, unlike IQ or other traditional measures of intelligence, EQ can be developed and dramatically increased. The first step is to assess where you are right now. How high is your ability to understand, manage, and effectively express your own feelings, as well as engage and navigate successfully with the feelings of others? Here are some things my coaching client and I worked on to build his EQ:
- Avoid jumping to a negative conclusion right away. If you’re not getting the response you want, don’t take it personally, come up with multiple ways to view the situation and widen your perspective to reduce the possibility of a misunderstanding.
- Stay cool and manage stress. Yes – really. This is important and not to be ignored or saved as a goal for another day.
- Stay proactive, instead of reactive. First, take a minute to step into the other person’s shoes. Perhaps think, “It must not be easy to be her with all the pressure she’s facing to complete this task with limited resources” and ways you could help before you jump into giving negative feedback.
- Bounce back from adversity or challenge. We all choose the way we think, feel, and act when faced with life’s challenges and that is always the difference between hope versus despair and optimism versus frustration.
With just a few adjustments in perspective and the goal to build his awareness of what was happening around him, my client made great strides to increasing his EI and continues to do so as he builds this skill every week.