When Stephen R. Covey, author of the popular series “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” stepped into a bus in Chicago, he was not anticipating the realization he would have. The bus ride was extremely noisy because of a few children who were creating chaos by their undisciplined behavior. Their father was oblivious to their behavior and did not say a word. Covey dropped his newspaper and approached the man, politely asking him to discipline his children as it was disturbing everyone. The father, embarrassed, apologized and explained that they were going back home from the hospital where his wife had died from cancer.

That is when Covey realized the importance of empathy and fully understanding a person’s situation. Had he observed better and approached the situation differently by asking the father what was wrong instead of being judgemental, he would have understood and felt the pain of this man better.

This is an example to explain how important it is to firstly understand ourselves and manage our emotions then empathize and react to a situation by understanding what the other person is going through. As easy as it sounds, it’s not. We can all improve on these characteristics by assessing our emotional intelligence (EI), which is knowing yourself and having the ability to manage your own emotions as well as understanding others. Since everyone has a different way of dealing with their own emotions and reacting to them, it is not easy to grasp the ability of EI but we can always start by trying.

American psychologist Daniel Goleman has done research on the characteristics that define emotional intelligence, which are:

  • Self-awareness: Understanding your own emotions and how they affect your behavior. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and having confidence in yourself.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control your impulsive feelings and behavior, adapting to changing situations, and knowing how to manage your emotions in a positive way.
  • Motivation: People with high EI love challenges and are usually highly productive and have the ability to work in an effective way.
  • Empathy: Recognizing the feelings of others and fully understanding them without judgement. Maintaining good relationships by listening and being able to relate to others. 
  • Social skills: Being an easily approachable individual who has excellent communication skills and knows how to build and maintain relationships.

Emotional Intelligence can change your life and give you a more positive and healthy attitude towards everything. It can help improve your character in all aspects, whether it is in your personal or work life. As any leader or role model we aspire to, their personalities are all characterized by a high sense of EI. Building and managing relationships is an essential part of life and can help in the discovery of the leader in you.

References

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam

Covey, R. (1993). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Vision Publishing

Mind Tools. (2016). Emotional Intelligence: Developing Strong “People Skills”. Available: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_59.htm [Accessed 10th April, 2016]