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“It’s been emotional!”

With ‘collaborative working’ actually included as a core clause of the NEC suite of contracts, and progressively being encouraged in other forms of contract, perhaps it is becoming increasingly important to gain a better understanding as to how our emotions impact our decisions..?.. Particularly when, (as is so often the case), mutual trust and cooperation between parties appears to rapidly evaporate when there are notions of difficulties arising, or there is failure of one, or both, of the participants to The Contract.

‘Soft skills’ is a term recognised and consistently used by Employers in the working environment, and refers to an employee’s personal attributes that enable them to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. For it is your emotions and the emotions that you communicate to the outside world, that have an impact on the people around you…

The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions (John Hancock)

Whilst Vinnie (or more accurately Big Chris in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) may not be the first person one thinks of when considering the art of thinking of, understanding, and considering ourselves and others, the importance of the deployment of ‘emotional intelligence’ in our day-to-day dealings and with the people with whom we interact, both in the workplace, and outside it, cannot be underestimated.

What is ‘emotional intelligence’? (Often called Emotional Quotient or EQ). Well, there are a number of ways in which it can be defined, but maybe one way is to describe it as the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible, but it affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions to achieve positive results. So, it’s our ability to monitor our own emotions as well as the emotions of others, to distinguish between and identify emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide our own thinking and behaviour, and influence that of others. Bearing that in mind, it may nonetheless surprise you to know that EQ is not directly linked to ‘cognitive intelligence’ (often called Intelligence Quotient or IQ). Research has established that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. Many years of research also now point to EQ as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack, this research points to the connection being so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high EQ.

Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you (Robert Ebert)

We use EQ when we empathise with our colleagues, communicate with our clients and customers, and on a daily basis living with our nearest and dearest!!

We identify emotions (in ourselves and in others), relate to others, and communicate with varying levels of feeling and emotion in everything we do. Whilst we all experience emotions and recognise emotions in others, the ability to accurately identify them as they occur is dependent upon your level of EQ. That lovely research again seems to indicate that only 36 percent of us can accurately identify emotions. This can be problematic in any number of situations because not recognising what is inside, and in front of you, can result in emotions being misunderstood, which can then lead to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.

An example of the range of identifying emotion might be where many people may describe themselves as simply feeling ‘bad’, but emotionally intelligent people, with a higher level of EQ, can pinpoint whether they feel ‘irritable’, ‘frustrated’, ‘downtrodden’, ‘anxious’ etc.

So as well as having a good emotional vocabulary, what else points to a high EQ? Again, there can be many facets, and of course there are many tests that you can take, but some behaviours that are hallmarks are: Curiosity in the people around you – caring about other people and what they are going through; embracing change – being flexible and possessing an ability to adapt; knowing your strengths and weaknesses – use your strengths to full advantage whilst keeping your weaknesses from holding you back; being a good judge of character – recognising what others are all about and understanding their motivations, even those hidden beneath the surface; being difficult to offend – If you have a good grip on who you are, then it is difficult for others to say or do something that rattles you, and you can self-deprecate without offense; knowing how to say no – delay gratification and avoid impulsive action. Saying no can avoid stressful situations, burnout and even depression; letting go of mistakes – distance yourself from mistakes, but don’t forget them as dwelling on them makes you anxious and reticent but forgetting them makes you liable to make them again; building strong relationships – give and expect nothing in return; not holding grudges – a grudge can lead to negative emotion and stress, so reduce or eliminate those negative emotions; control interactions with difficult people – keeping your feelings in check when dealing with a difficult/negative person and consider their standpoint but don’t let them bring you down; not seeking perfection – don’t lament failure to accomplish unrealistic goals, move forward excited about what you have achieved and what you will accomplish; appreciating what you have – taking time to contemplate what you are grateful for; disconnecting – take regular time away from the coalface, and rest enough, to give mind and body a break!! (even turning off the phone!!); feeling good about your achievements – not turning off your reactions to what others think of you, but don’t compare yourself to others, let your self-worth come from within.

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far (Daniel Goleman)

The good thing about all of the hallmarks listed above is that they are not reliant upon your DNA, they are all skills that can be learnt. All of the skills can be goals to work towards through practice and application once you have recognised those that you possess and those that you do not, and those that you do have but need more work. There are a number of publications and courses out there in the marketplace to help with this process if you wish to increase your awareness and abilities in this sphere.

Working on, and enhancing, your EQ will be beneficial in many work-related situations as well as personal scenarios. Recognising EQ, and practising techniques to increase your own level, will enhance your ability to achieve positive and good results. For example, this may take the form of guiding a difficult negotiation down the path you want by recognising the traits of the person/ party you are negotiating with, or you may be able to guide or may help you to support a colleague in achieving their goals if you better understand their drivers, or you may have a better chance of effectively expressing and validating your emotions to others.

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