Much of what we have to do in life and in work is to get great things done with, through, under and over people. While some is done by yourself and alone and even in your pajamas at home, most work is done with others.
To be successful and effective therefore requires a set of skills popularly know as EQ or Emotional Quotient. There is an extensive research background that will be discussed elsewhere, but it has about a 100-year history. Also know as EI or Emotional Intelligence, the skill set revolves around leveraging yourself with, under and over other people to get things done.
The skill set at the simple end of the concept is about interpersonal skills. It includes things like engaging others positively, exchanging information and sharing tasks to accomplish goals and objectives together with little or no “noise”.
At the deeper end of the concept, there are four significant chunks of skills that are somewhat independent in that you might be good at one, but less skilled at the others.
The four chunks are:
This requirement was set very early by no less than Socrates – first, know thyself. At the base of the EQ set of skills and behaviors is the requirement that you know everything about yourself. Strengths, weaknesses, hidden strengths and especially blind spots. Cognitive skills, emotional tone and style, technical and job related skills and interpersonal skills.
This self-knowledge has to be as it relates just to you – what are my bests and worsts, highest and lowest. But that self-evaluation also has to be compared to relevant others in your life and work. The key is how you compare to others you have to work with and especially those you have to compete with for jobs and promotions.
The evaluation has to include how you are seen by others relevant to you in life and work. Sometimes, your self-view does not totally mess with the view of others. Sometimes it is lower and sometimes higher. Self-awareness always includes information about how you are seen by others around you. Using only your self-view is essentially incomplete and is not likely to help you be successful.
2. Self-management and regulation.
You have a portfolio of available behaviors and skills that you can chose to apply to any life or work situation. Sometimes things get in the way of intelligent choices of which behaviors might work best. Things like emotions, impulses, defense mechanisms, anger, frustration, search for fairness, etc. All of these things can get in the way of intelligent choices about what to do next. Being the best that you can be would require the harnessing of things in you that can cause “noise”.
Noise generally leads to you performing below your best.
Harnessing those noisy things is usually stated in terms of composure, control, and
emotional stability. The key is how you respond to stress, pressure and conflict. It also includes how you respond to people who are vulnerable and in need of help. How do you respond to people in trouble?
It doesn’t help if you have wonderful EQ skills but you let things inside yourself to cause noise.
Understanding Others and Social Processes.
Like self-awareness, other-awareness is mandatory. It follows the same discovery process. For each person relevant to you in life and work, what are their individual strengths and weaknesses and how do they compare to others? How do they act under different circumstances? Do they act any differently under stress and pressure? How self-aware are they? Why do they do what they do? How good are you at predicting ahead of time what they actually do?
The second other awareness skill is knowing about how and why people transactions occur. Why don’t the people on the third floor eat with the people on the second floor? How come younger people have trouble with the rules of dress and decorum the rest of us have followed for decades? Why do the various departments have so much trouble communicating? How is conflict between groups best managed?
Basically it’s being smart about the rules of the road about how people interact with one another for good or bad. You need to know the what, why, and the how.
Deploying oneself productively with others.
The last piece of EQ is purposeful deployment. Armed with a task to accomplish, with the complete knowledge of self, with the complete knowledge of the people you need to work with, understanding the nature of the social process you will need to use, and then choosing the best set of behaviors with little or no noise to get it done. You can be over (the boss) or under (the direct report), with (team member or peer), inside or outside the team or inside or outside (customer) the enterprise. Each constituency might require a different social process and a different selection of the best behaviors.
So simply, what are the best EQ behaviors to use to get great things done with a mixed constituency?
In summary you have to know yourself, know others, and deploy your noiseless self the best you can to get things done.
You can be good at 1 – you know yourself, but low on the rest. You are not under control, you don’t understand others and are not good at deploying yourself when working with others.
You could even be good at 2, – you are under control but lower on 1 – you don’t know yourself.
Oddly, you could be good at 3, – you understand others, but not 1 – you don’t understand yourself.
In order to be good at 4, you have to be good at 1, 2 and 3.
Luckily, all EQ skills are developable. It requires complete self-knowledge – you have to know where you stand on each EQ behavior. You have to be motivated to change or enhance your EQ skills. You have to have valid advice and counsel about how to improve. You have to take action.
As Dr. Phil says, if you want to change something, you have to change something! And, if you keep doing what you have been doing, you will get what you have been getting!
EQ is about on equal footing with IQ as it relates to success. They are about equal in terms of contributing to life and career success. Obviously, tasks and jobs that are more people intensive would lean on EQ more.
Life and work success for almost everyone rests on EQ skills.
How are yours?
Robert W. Eichinger, PhD
Roger R. Pearman, EdD