“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 with whom you come in contact.
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 who is quick to understand and to effectively communicate and address concerns with others.
So how do you get EI?
For some people it is innate. It may be a natural part of their personality, or something they’ve learned through their upbringing and their family dynamics. However, EI is something that can be learned and developed whether you already have it or not.
It primarily comes down to effectively listening and observation!
Too often, people don’t really listen to the other people in a conversation. 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.
But, effective listening requires listening, not only to the words, but also to voice inflections, picking up on boldness or uncertainty, comfort or irritation, and other aspects of tone.
And, effective observing requires 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 person’s 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.
About the author…
Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as an independent recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @HarryUrschel and on LinkedIn.