by: Mike Shelah
Have you ever noticed, when you buy a new car, you begin to see that car everywhere?! It’s like, the moment you bought that car, everyone else did too. If we reflect on this feeling, we quickly realize, that is not the case. We have simply become more aware, as a result we are now seeing something as important, that our daily processing of information did not think important before. I tell you this for a couple reasons, first, in the last 48 hours I have met two different people that are publishing (or have published) new books on Emotional Intelligence. 12 months ago, I had no idea what the concept meant, today, I am fascinated! I have read several different books on the subject and have several more waiting their turn in my daily reading ritual. The second reason, this is a great example of how Emotional Intelligence works, and why it is becoming so important.
LET’S BEGIN WITH A DEFINITION:
Thank you Google. I pulled this one directly from an internet search and I think it is very succinct.
The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
Here is a real “ah ha” moment. Through my course of reading on this subject, I learned that EVERY experience we have EVERY day goes through our emotional filter before our logical brain is given the chance to process the information. Think about this for a moment. It explains how our hot buttons are formed. It explains why we can get angry at something (or sad, or happy etc.) about something that does not effect anyone else around us. We look at them like they are crazy and they in turn look at us like we are crazy. From the first time we wake up as babies in the middle of the night, we are forming our exclusive opinion of the world and how it treats us. As a result, we are forming our methods for dealing with how we will react. The spectrum of our ability to handle Emotional Intelligence (or EI) and to act upon those emotions effectively (or EQ) has a 100 point scale in the fantastic book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Dr. Travis Bradberry. This book is an ideal place to begin your exploration of Emotional Intelligence for two reasons, First: when you purchase a copy, it includes his assessment. You may take it twice for free. In the book, it is recommended that you take it once before reading to get a baseline of your skills. After you read the book, you can take advantage of the second feature, it gives you over 60 concrete action items, to help you improve your emotional intelligence in four categories. Once you spend a few months practicing these new skills, you can take the assessment again. You can mark your improvement and the report will show you the best recommended actions to continue to build your skills and become better.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER IN “THE REAL WORLD?”
It is simple. As a society (it does not matter what country you are in, the results are fairly similar around the world) we are made of people that are “functionally dysfunctional.” For some time their was a disturbing trend towards “dysfunctional.” In the new millennium the trend has moved back towards “functional,” but it is still not enough. The majority of our business & world leaders, have “under-performing ” scores. To make matters worse, most of the people that report to our leadership also have low scores and the combined effect is a world of scared and selfish decisions, that are enabled by other scared and selfish decisions.
THE ANSWER: IS EMPATHY
Consider this, if EVERYONE today, started every decision they make in a day with “would I want to be treated this way?” or “would I want someone to say this to me, with these words I have chosen,” how much better off would we be? It works in every aspect of life. It works with your family, your friends, your coworkers, your colleagues. It works, period. The more we can apply this concept, the more we can improve every facet of our lives and the people around us. We will raise better children to become better members of society. We will become better people and better members of society.
TAKE SOME POSITIVE ACTION
First: get the book. I have mentioned now in several consecutive blogs, it has changed my life for the better and opened a world of positive opportunities for me. I bought the audio version and then the hardcover and have listened/read it about 20 times.
Second: get a little better every day. Start with empathy. Take four techniques from the book and decide to work on them for one week. Then go back and choose four more. You will be amazed at how much better you feel and how much better your life will be overall.