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What’s your EQ?

What workplace skill is a better predictor of success, productivity and personal contentment than IQ, technical skills, experience or education?

If you guessed emotional intelligence (EQ), you’d be right. Individuals who have high EQs are self-aware, better able to motivate themselves, control impulses, delay gratification, regulate their moods and they don’t allow stress to overwhelm thinking. They understand themselves and demonstrate empathy for others. 1

The good news is that unlike IQ, you can raise your EQ. And the first step toward raising your EQ is to make a concerted effort to be more aware of your behaviors, thoughts and feelings, and how you impact others. Try practicing some simple skills:

1. Observe yourself. Self-awareness begins as soon as you pause, notice and take responsibility for your choices in behavior, thoughts and feelings. As you practice self-awareness, you will notice some habitual patterns of reactions. Soon you’ll feel able to choose reactions rather than be driven by them unconsciously. As you change, you’ll notice that those around you will respond to you differently and better.

2. CYA has nothing to do with your anatomy. Rather, it stands for “Check Your Assumptions”. Do a research project with yourself. Notice how many times that you make assumptions about someone else’s behavior, thoughts or feelings. How do you know that what you assume is true? You don’t. Check your assumptions (CYA) by inquiring.

Ask brief open-ended questions such as ‘What are your expectations of me?’, or ‘what are our goals for this meeting’. This type of inquiry (couple with No. 3 below) opens up new dimensions for getting things done effectively with others.

3. Listen for new information. Be aware that each of us filters information for alignment of our assumptions. But listening is more than just waiting to talk. Challenge yourself to listen for new information each time you ask a question. You’ll be amazed at how big the world gets. . . and how small you make it every time you assume you know what someone else wants or needs.

4. Take aim at issues not people. Focus on tasks, not personalities. As your EQ increases, so will your adeptness with relationships. You will clearly know how to separate the issues from the people. Then you will move forward more easily and achieve greater success.

In the past few months our world has changed irrevocably. By increasing your emotional intelligence, you will have more capacity and desire to change too. You will be driving your own bus and a funny thing will happen - you’ll notice that others will be clamoring to get on board.

1 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, 1995, A Bantam Book
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