How emotional intelligence can help you succeed

When you create your identity through your job, your primary underlying emotion is fear which blinds you to good opportunities.

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Apply your EQ tools to eliminate shortcomings.
By Devashish Chakravarty

You believe professional outcomes depend on your cognitive skills and results you deliver. Then where does emotional intelligence or EQ (emotional quotient) fit in? Since you are dealing with your internal emotional state as well as that of other human beings, an inability to understand and manage emotions slows you down or prevents you from achieving outcomes you desire.

Thus, your success is driven not just by your intelligence and skills but also by the emotional tools at your disposal. Your emotional intelligence lies in self-awareness/perception, self-regulation/control, motivation, empathy and social skills. However, the following negative behaviours could be holding you back at work, reducing your productivity.


1. Finding meaning
Human brains are meaning making machines. You are meant to seek meaning and patterns in random events. Take this to the workplace and you can assign a lot of meaning to the money you earn and link it to your confidence, social status and personal judgments of good and bad. With this inbuilt prejudice, it is easy to get biased where you take everything personally and attribute intent to people and incidents where none exist and thus take wrong decisions.

Recognise that everyone is too focused on their own world to think about you or plot how to make you fail. Each time you are agitated by others, remind yourself of your bias and subtract intent from your calculations to take better decisions.

2. Looking good
Do you have a persistent need to appear smart, intelligent, powerful or important at work? This colours all your conversations and actions, creating a distance between you and your colleagues, leading to poor outcomes. Recognise that your human bias to look good and feel needed makes you constantly try to display your importance.

Unfortunately, this reduces your impact. Instead of using words, choose to demonstrate worth by delivering outcomes. Recognise that people respond better to supportive behaviour than authoritative and they connect better through authenticity and vulnerability than through the mask of importance.

3. Mistaken identity
Who are you? If your answer is VP Sales or Manager, Finance – you are wrong and are also sabotaging your future. Like almost everyone else, you are used to equating your personal identity with the professional role you are currently in. This leads you to make terrible decisions and choices in your career because you are over-anxious about every little incident or outcome that could be remotely threatening to your job or performance.

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When you create your identity through your job, your primary underlying emotion is fear which blinds you to good opportunities. Firstly, redefine who you are—where your skills (and not your job) are merely a part of your self-image. Secondly, recognise that a loss can never be an absolute judgment of you as a person and you can reframe it as an opportunity to change behaviour and discover your best future.

4. Emotional compensation
As an emotional human, are you demanding respect or money based on what you feel? The hard thing about respect is that you need to give it first to get it back. Demanding respect on account of your position, expertise or experience squelches communication and self-expression of others and thus ultimately backfires. If you want the support of others to get work done, begin with respecting their ideas and contributions even when they disagree with you.
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Now you are likely to get reciprocal respect from them. Similarly, recognise that workplace compensation flows from revenues earned by your firm and value delivered by you. Your feelings about what you deserve have little impact whereas the numbers and tangibles you bring to the table will drive money to you.

5. Righteousness
Do you want to grow in your career or do you want to be right? The two are mutually exclusive. The need to be proven right in arguments and discussions results in outbursts, unjustified blaming and stonewalling requests for information. This shuts you out to learning and course correction while you come across as arrogant.

The opposite is your need to grow that makes you open to suggestions, different ideas and criticism—some of which will add to your learning while leading to better results. So, remind yourself each time that you are better off being wrong and learning something new for the future instead of being perceived to be right temporarily because you drowned out everyone else’s voice. Every learning has a positive compounding effect on your growth and success.

6. Inconsistent outcomes
Reliability is the strongest indicator of success in your career. Consistently delivering what you said or what is expected of you gets you the promotions and compensation you deserve. However, if your best efforts result in inconsistent outcomes, examine what happened, through the framework of emotions. Are you failing in tasks that involve communication and emotions of others? For colleagues to trust you, they need to see your ability to handle stress and control emotional responses. Similarly, they will respond better to loyalty and conscientiousness from you.

To improve your expression and thus persuade people better, increase your empathy by imagining yourself in their shoes and feeling the emotions they may be going through. Finally, in your communication, combine logic with your understanding of your own and their emotions to influence and evoke the right feelings that will drive desired behaviour and consistent outcomes. Changing your bias for emotion-less communication will come only from constant practice. The price is well worth paying to become a consistently successful professional or leader.

5 STEPS TO RETAINING CONTROL
1. Say thanks

Incorporate practices to control negative emotions. Each day think of three things you are grateful for. Then, at work, express thanks to your helpful co-worker. Gratitude releases dopamine and serotonin—the happiness hormones—in your brain, reducing negative emotions, increasing empathy and energising relationships.

2. Describe emotion
Label your emotion to instantly reduce your overwhelming feelings. By recognising and describing your emotion as anger, anxiety, resentfulness etc, you activate the language centre in your brain and thus shift control to your pre-frontal cortex—the seat of regulation— and away from your amygdala —the seat of emotion.

3. Decide
Are you unable to control your stress because of incessant worry and anxiety? Make quick decisions. Decisions trigger the achievement chemical of dopamine which increases feelings of control, pleasure and motivation, thus regulating unwanted stress. The opposite is waiting to take perfect decisions which reduces control and increases anxiety.

4. Walk out
Do you regret your behaviour after a confrontation? Unpleasant situations release cortisol in your brain as part of your survival response where you cannot think or speak straight. Instead, learn the art of walking out of the situation. By taking time out, you can bring down your cortisol level, regain control and then continue the discussion.

5. Focus on content
What if you cannot walk out of a confrontation? The way to regulate is to label and observe the cortisol driven responses of the other person—“He is currently angry, has lost control and hence is attacking me personally”. Now ignore his emotional words and focus and respond to the rational part of the discussion to maintain self-control.

(The writer is Founder and CEO at Quezx.com and Headhonchos.com)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)
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