Understanding your emotional intelligence and being able to read others is the x-factor to success.

But what if you didn’t even know it exists? Up until last year I would be lying if I said otherwise. A successful project manager, I was busily working away with my PMP in one hand and my copy of Microsoft Project in the other. Projects were on time and within budget and the people did not seem to be the problem.
Or were they? Or was I?

Emotional IntelligenceI had a friend return from the U.S and mention his level of EI. I thought he had applied to Enterprise Ireland and my first question was “How much did you get?”! I soon realised the error of my ways and did my homework.
Essentially, emotional intelligence (EI) is about knowing oneself and possessing good social skills. But what exactly are these skills and pre-requisites for a high EI? Some people are lucky enough to be born with them, gifted in true ‘sleeping-beauty’ style, enveloped by their family’s support and structure.

You know the type. You step inside their lives and instantly feel at ease. They are the Jedis, leaders; in control of themselves and others around them. They get stuff done or even better, empower others to do it and they don’t even want the credit.
But those blessed with emotional intelligence go beyond good manners and extend to kind words, thoughtful gestures and heart-felt enquiries. They possess that ‘likability’ factor and breed success wherever they go.

Daniel Goleman wrote a book in 1995 which broke new ground, from psychologists to businesses, everyone listened and realised there was something to it. High in demand and now held with a higher regard than IQ, Emotional Intelligence is not just expected but evaluated, searched for and cultivated in employees, potential partners and offspring.

But what’s most intriguing about this intelligence is that it’s free to all. Readily accessible, within one’s reach and of real value to each and every one of us. There is no need for extra grinds, private tuition fees, high points or any of the above to secure high attainment rates. It’s not who you know but what you know about yourself and others.

All the same it was a highly-paid consultant who introduced me to the themes and concepts. Or at least they charged a half-day rate and recommended the reading list, and I have taken it from there. But this possibly just confirms how important and beneficial it is to businesses and society at large. Schools are beginning to recognise its value and trying to raise awareness and status within education policy and through teaching methodologies.

EI is broken into many areas but the ones which spoke directly to me were

  • Self-awareness or managing our emotions;
  • Our regard for and awareness of others;
  • Motivating oneself;
  • Emotional resiliance;
  • Handling relationships.

Ultimately, emotional intelligence is about self-regard for oneself and others. How well you treat yourself and others is paramount. It is not a once-off, self-indulgent, exhibitionist display of one’s better self. Instead, it is a slow, steady, silent and consistent pattern of equality in terms of the respect, treatment, time and attention given to oneself and others which defines this virtue.

These are basic human qualities held in high esteem but sometimes forgotten and taken for granted, emotional intelligence is not only difficult to attain but also retain. It cannot be checked off a list or crammed into a late-night study session. Moreover, once achieved and recognised, it is through practise and living with ourselves and others that it is found and where it should always remain.