Monthly Archives: March 2015

Emotional Intelligence, Learning and Developing “People Skills”

When someone tells me, “I’m a People Person,” I want think about four things:

1. This person is a good listener who always seems to know what needs to be said, but more importantly, how to not upset or offend others in their delivery.

2. This person considers proper word-choice when conversing because they care about creating and optimistic solution and they are hopeful they will reach it.

3. This person consciously works at managing their emotions, especially in stressful situations.

4. This person looks at themselves in an honest way, because they believe you can learn more from failure than you can from success. Criticism, to this person, is an opportunity to improve their performance and decision making.

People who have these skills have a high degree of Emotional Intelligence, or EI. They are able to sense the emotional needs of others because they know themselves very well.

So, what exactly is Emotional Intelligence, and what can you do to improve your People Skills?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

We all have different personalities, different wants and needs, and different ways of showing our emotions. Navigating through this all takes tact and cleverness – especially if we hope to succeed in life. This is where EI becomes important.

Emotional Intelligence is a person’s ability to consciously understand and recognize their own emotions and how they affect others. It involves a delicate perception of understanding of how others are feeling- a person with emotional intelligence uses this knowledge to manage relationships more effectively.

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence:

1. Self-Awareness – People with high EI are usually very self-aware. They understand their emotions, and because of this, they don’t let their feelings rule them. They’re confident – because they trust their intuition and don’t let their emotions get out of control.
They’re also willing to take an honest look at themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they work on these areas so they can perform better. Many people believe that this self-awareness is the most important part of EI.

2. Self-Regulation – This is the ability to control emotions and impulses. People who self-regulate typically don’t allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they don’t make impulsive, careless decisions. They think before they act. Characteristics of self-regulation are thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity, and the ability to say no.

3. Motivation – People with a high degree of EI are usually motivated. They’re willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. They’re highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do.

4. Empathy – This is perhaps the second-most important element of EI. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you. People with empathy are good at recognizing the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. As a result, empathetic people are usually excellent at managing relationships , listening , and relating to others. They avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way.

5. Social Skills – It’s usually easy to talk to and like people with good social skills, another sign of high EI. Those with strong social skills are typically team players. Rather than focus on their own success first, they help others develop and shine. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.

The ability to manage people and relationships is very important in all careers, so developing and using your Emotional Intelligence can show others your leadership qualities.

How to Build Your People Skills by Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence be learned and developed. As well as working on Daniel Goleman’s skills, you can use some of these strategies:

• Observe how your actions and reactions affect people. Before you act, consider your own impact and how others might judge or deal with your action or reaction.

• Practice Humility. Be quietly confident in your accomplishments and don’t intentionally seek out praise.

• Identify your weaknesses. Be willing to accept that there is an honest way to be a better, happier, more productive, version of yourself.

• Control your emotions. Remember that anger clouds thought, especially in stressful situations. Stay calm when things go wrong.

• Be responsible for your actions. If your word-choice merits a direct apology, do it as an effort to make things right.

Practicing Emotional Intelligence is not only being aware of your actions and feelings – and how they affect those around you but also about valuing, empathizing, and identify with people on many different levels.

You ever get mad? You Ever Get Mad? You Ever Get MAD!?! Let’s Work On That.

You ever get mad? You Ever Get Mad? You Ever Get MAD!?!

Yes. Yes, I do. Don’t get me wrong. I do consider myself a happy person, but naturally, sometimes I want to karate-chop someone in the throat.

Sometimes I want to be that person who gets cut off in traffic then proceeds to give the finger to the offender. Really maybe my real issue is that sometimes I want to be the person who doesn’t feel bad about giving a person what may indeed be “coming to them.” Yes, instant karma deliver, at your service.
I need to tell you a story about why I don’t get as mad as I used to:
First some context.

I was one of those college students who worked full-time and went to school full-time. Through the years, I had a variety of jobs. In this story, I was the manager of an Italian ice store. My best friend, at the time, also worked at the store and the other employees did not know she was my best friend. This was a strategic approach to managing my employees because I did not want them to call favoritism on account of my best friend working there. Like I was ever going to let my best friend have a crappy schedule, seriously?

Okay now, let’s get personal.

So I’m just going to blurt this out-I was dating my boss. I was young! He was young! This was well before I learned that you shouldn’t, “mix business with pleasure,” or for the blunt, “shit where you eat.” Anyway, I really dug the relationship, at first. So push comes to shove, I’ll save you some semantics, I found out my boss/lover was double-dipping in the workspace. He was in fact dating another employee whom was also a friend of mine.

Here’s how I lose my cool.

I flip out. I want to call up this “friend” who is messing with my man and curse her out. If she was there when I heard this news initially I might have slapped her in the face, I could have let my ugly-out, and I most definitely would have got mad all over her ass. BUT really if you think about it, the best thing happened, she didn’t pick up the phone. My move was to leave a pleasant sounding voicemail encouraging her to call me back only to rip her a new one when she called.
So she called back (and I should be thinking- I got you now tramp).

But when she did call- I was tired. I had a long commute back to my dorm and an even longer day. My roommate and I decided to go to a diner and I was about mid-way through a very appealing sandwich when the phone rang. Thinking I was going to miss my opportunity, I picked up the phone. She politely said, “Hi, it’s (insert name), you called?” I responded, “Yeah, listen, I just wanted to say that I know what you did and I think it was fucked up, so do me a favor, and don’t ever talk to me again.” Then I hung up and turned off my phone.

My roommate gave me a bizarre look.

“That’s how you tell someone off? That was so calm!” It was precisely the opposite of mad and you know what? I felt great. You ever get mad and tell someone off and then you want to pick up the phone again call them back and “YOU KNOW ANOTHER THING! CURSE, YOU.” Then hang up? I get it. But because of this moment, because I knew I didn’t want this type of person in my life, I really did say the three things I needed to say: I am aware of your actions, I did not like your actions, my action is to not partake in this friendship. I felt great because I discovered a classy way to express how I felt and I didn’t have anything else to say about the matter. She can remember exactly what I said and so could I, it was a simple calm statement brought on by exhaustion.

AND TRUST ME, you don’t need to EXHAUST yourself:

Remember I told you my best friend worked with us? Also true. She told me that the next day the girl came into work and claimed I told her off, she even claimed I came to her house and threatened to beat her up. This just goes to show you that you shouldn’t get mad because people are just going to make up whatever it is they want to about a situation. The instant karma might have taken a day or so, but in the end, the person that was genuinely wrong in the situation faces a liar who says hurtful things in the mirror.

I don’t want to be the person that looks at my own reflection and feels like a terrible person; which is why I work on not getting too mad as an effort towards achieving happiness.

Angry Cappuccino (Work on Stress)

Okay Stress! Really if you think about it stress has a bad reputation. Here are some benefits of stress according to ulifeline.org

“According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that basically advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivates you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory.

Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Plus, the senses suddenly have a laser-like focus so you can avoid physically stressful situations — such as jumping away from a moving car — and be safe.

In addition, there are various health benefits with a little bit of stress. Researchers believe that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had low or high levels.”

BUT regardless of the benefits, there are often times we could hang from the rafters chanting, “I am so stressed-out!” What I suggest to you is something I like to call “My Angry Cappuccino.”

Here’s What I Do:

I go to a coffee shop and order a cappuccino with no sugar and extra foam.

I decide that the bitterness of the beverage and the chaotic foam represents my stress/troubles.

I take my time and swallow every ounce, reminding myself that once I have conquered this beverage I have, in a sense, conquered my problems.

Once I finish, I rip the cup to smithereens and dunk it in the trash receptacle. Suddenly I feel like such a bad-ass. I can conquer you cappuccino, I can conquer anything…bring it!

Ah, you have to try this! For best results incorporate a happy victory dance.

Rearrange your space (Work on seeing Happiness)

In the past my desk has looked like it threw-up a extensive amount of marked-up papers and got attacked by sticky notes. So I HAVE to ask, “What does your environment do to promote happiness? Really, I want you to understand that the first step in this “exercise” is that you need to set up your space to allow happiness. Yes, Happiness is allowed. Today make an effort to change three things that surround you (if you want to go for more…super!) your goal is to smile more today in your surroundings.

One of my random reaches to smile today and be happy:

I got out a couple of markers, stickers, and fancy paper supplies. I made myself a happy note. I wrote the quote “be kind to yourself, you’re awesome-now get back to work!” and selected a hilarious photo to match then I posted it to my corkboard by my desk. Then I decided to rearrange my paperwork. I just kept on reminding myself that I am working on something that usually displeases me then I look at my reminder again. Productive but with the reminder that I am too damn funny and that I work too hard not to have this moment- it makes me happy to have this laugh with myself.

Consciously try today to do something that reminds you to be happy.