Who hasn’t heard about the value of emotional intelligence? Everybody talks about how mere regular intelligence only gets you so far before you hit limits. It makes sense. Emotions affect your relationships and for projects bigger than you can finish alone, which means nearly everything, you need to use relationships. Deeper than how well you lead others, emotions help you understand yourself, so understanding emotions helps you improve your life too.
As much value as emotional intelligence has, I feel the concept misses something important. The more I learn about and coach people on emotions, the more value I see not in just knowing about emotions, but in the skills to use them, which means action, behavior, communication, and practice, all of which come through trying new things. I’m moving toward valuing skills to use emotions over knowing about as much as people value emotional intelligence over regular intelligence.
You might say you need to know emotions before you can use them. That’s where I’m changing my thoughts most, because the more I see people increase their emotional skills and intelligence, it comes from activity and practice, not studying or being lectured. Most of the time you tell someone something new about emotions, they’ll keep acting like they did before, no matter how much they react like they just learned something incredible and useful. Get them to act on what you told them and they’ll learn it right away. Lately I’ve noticed you don’t always have to tell them the new information first. Just get them to act and they’ll learn.
It seems more and more like emotional skills come from action and behavior and emotional intelligence follows.
Think of psychologists. They gear their lives to learning about emotions but I don’t see them trying new things that often, challenging themselves, leading others, and so on. They seem to me to have high emotional intelligence but low emotional skills. And how many psychologists come to mind when you think of role models and mentors?
I increasingly see value in action, behavior, communication, and practice over mere emotional intelligence.
Read my weekly newsletter
Subscribe for a weekly update of musings on leadership, the environment, and burpees.