Have you come across these different types of people: the manager who was technically brilliant at their job, but emotionally frigid, the nurse who was great at applying her technical skills but emotionally frosty towards her patients and people who got on really well with folk but struggled to actually be competent in their jobs.
Often, when it comes to our emotions we offer up the view that when we lose our temper, we have become emotional, or our emotions carried us away in the heat of the moment. Such thoughts seem to suggest that life is lived in a sort of involuntary reflex to what we call emotional moments in our lives - as if we are captive to our emotions, rather than those who can choose to use our emotions. Over the next few posts, I want to just explore some rudimentary thinking around emotional intelligence and explain why, for me, it is more about practical wisdom. I will share my definition of emotional intelligence shortly but it may be helpful to look at what it is not, to begin with.
1) It's not about ignoring facts. Emotions are always present, especially in human connections. Emotions provide us with additional data to help us with those facts.
2) Emotional Intelligence is not about hugging everyone and telling everyone how you feel! Really - do you want to be that honest with your boss! Emotions require managing, more than they do expressing.
3) Expressed emotion when it does occur is done so intelligently - There's a difference between an emotional connection through touch and sexual harassment
4) My emotions are exactly that - mine. I can try to mask my emotional self from the world at large and my closest ones who are near. Such a position is a vain hope for anonymity - we can all read others emotions.
5) Emotional intelligence offers a set of skills, a set of abilities for many settings - home, school, the workplace.
My current working definition of emotional intelligence is:
"Awareness of our own and other's emotions, an ability to understand and use emotions intelligently in ourselves and others in order to apply our emotional awareness in the contexts in which we inhabit. Emotional intelligence is more about who we are than what we do". Reflection Point: Do you have your emotions, or do they have you? How does happiness, or sadness show up in you?