Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, argues that the part of the brain related to Emotional and Social Intelligence is the last one to become anatomically mature.
Our brain is plastic and skilled in learning through experience.
For this reason, Emotional Intelligence must be learned. Teaching correct emotional behaviors since childhood drastically reduces antisocial behaviors and helps human beings to grow in positive relationships with others. Emotional Intelligence helps you to succeed at school and work and achieve your career and personal goals. It could also help to connect with your feelings, improve psychological wellness, grow self-esteem and decrease insecurity.
Western culture teaches us to “contain” feelings. Each of us knows (because we previously learned it), what kind of emotions we should feel in front of others and what kind of them is right to keep to ourselves. We are all supposed to know how we should behave in a particular situation.
The same things happen at work. Train our Emotional Intelligence can help us improve our working environment and relationship with colleagues. We are used to thinking that emotions should be something that must be left outside the working environment, and in my opinion, this is partially true… but having an emotionally correct behavior with colleagues does not mean we should erase what we feel.
Following Goleman’s studies, the concept of Emotional Intelligence has taken shape and became an object of study both in the psychological field and in the business organization. Emotional Intelligence is, in fact, a fundamental aspect of success in the field of business and leadership.
What is Emotional Intelligence and how can it help us to improve our work?
According to Goleman, we can define Emotional Intelligence (EI) as the ability to identify, assess, and control own emotions and those of others.
It consists of 4 dimensions:
- Self-awareness and Self-regulation: is the self-referential part of the EI. It’s the ability to understand our emotions and how they impact on others. It is important to be able to control and manage our impulses and emotions. Acting rashly or without caution can damage relationships with clients or colleagues. Understanding and accepting the way we feel is the first step to evaluating the impact of our actions on the environment.
- Empathy: this second point can be considered the mirror of the first. Empathy is the ability of understanding, being sensitive to the feelings, the thoughts, and the experience of another person. Identifying a certain mood or emotion from a colleague or client and reacting to it can be very helpful. It enables us to resolve conflicts, build more productive teams, and improve our relationships.
- Motivation: is the force that guides us towards our goals. Knowing our professional goals helps us to better plan our time and actions and to avoid stress. Each individual person has different motivations for working, being driven by money or material rewards is not a beneficial characteristic.
- Social Skills: are the ability to better handle our emotions in relationships with others. If we treat our colleagues and customers with respect we will create positive relationships that will benefit everybody.
Nature versus Nurture
Intelligence has both genetic and environmental causes, and these have been studied through a large number of experiments. In Goleman’s opinion, each individual has a general level of Emotional Intelligence since his/her birth, but there is also evidence for the role of nurture, indicating that individuals are not born with fixed, unchangeable levels of intelligence. Among the factors that determine intelligence: positive communication, social environment, and school education.
Emotional skills can be learned, developed and improved in order to achieve important job performance and leadership.
Being emotionally intelligent is not obvious, some people are born with a higher empathic predisposition than others, but it is possible to learn how to manage emotions, understand it and report to others in a proper way.