Emotional Intelligence is a term heard often these days. Books on leadership discuss it, personality assessments address it, and occasionally employers will mention it when they are evaluating potential new hires or promotions.
What is Emotional Intelligence, and how do you get it and demonstrate that you have it? Good question… here are some observations…
Wikipedia describes Emotional Intelligence as:
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
Generally, it’s being able to correctly perceive and respond appropriately to the underlying emotions of the people you come in contact to.
So why does this matter in a job interview?
Often times, someone with strong Emotional Intelligence (EI) is perceived to have very strong communication skills, or to be “quick” or ‘“on the ball”.
Since they can often understand what’s really being conveyed by the person they’re talking to beyond the words that are spoken, they can respond in a way that addresses more than what’s been articulated. They are perceived to “get it” faster than someone with low EI. Any employer would like to hire someone that’s quick to understand and effectively communicate and address concerns with others.
So how do you get EI?
For some people it’s innate. It may be a natural part of their personality, or something they’ve learned through their upbringing and their family dynamics. However, it is something that can be learned and developed whether you already have it or not.
It primarily comes down to effective listening and observation!
Too often, people don’t really listen to the people they are conversing with. They are more preoccupied with what they are going to say next, rather than paying close attention to what the other person is saying, or how they are expressing themselves with their body language. Listening, not only to their words, but also to their voice inflections, their boldness or uncertainty, their comfort or irritation, or other aspects of their tone. Observing, not only their lips, but their stance and posture, evidence of stress or anxiousness, looks of concern, joy, curiosity, anger, caring, or boredom. Paying attention to all these things and more can give clues about the persons interest, concern, or other aspects of the conversation.
When their voice and body language don’t seem to match their words, it’s evidence that there are other things going on in the background. Being willing to ask about and address those additional issues will make you much more effective in getting to the root of a problem or persuading others to your point of view.
If you want a potential employer, a current co-worker or boss, or a friend, child, or spouse to perceive you as “getting it”, learn, develop, and demonstrate a high degree of Emotional Intelligence. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.