Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People

In an article listing seven habits of emotionally intelligent people, psychology expert, Kendra Cherry[1], identifies some practical reflection that leaders can engage in if they are to improve their emotional intelligence.

She starts with a quote from philosopher Aristotle, "Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not easy." 

Emotionally intelligent leaders engage in a number of habits and behaviours that contribute to their ability to manage their own emotions and understand the feelings of others. This list of seven habits of emotionally intelligent people is as follows. Leaders should consider adopting at least some of these habits.

1. Emotionally intelligent people pay attention to what they are feeling.

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman identifies self-awareness as one of the key components of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness involves the ability to recognise moods, emotions, and feelings.  Part of self-awareness also involves being aware of how your emotions and moods influence other people. This ability to monitor your own emotional states is a basic requirement for emotional intelligence.

2. They understand how other people feel.

Empathy is another of Goleman's major elements of emotional intelligence. This involves the ability to understand the emotions of other people.  In order to interact well with other people at work, you need to be able to know what they are feeling.  If a co-worker is upset or frustrated, knowing what he or she is feeling can give you a much better idea of how to respond.

3. They are able to regulate their emotions.

Self-regulation is absolutely central to emotional intelligence.  Understanding your emotions is great, but not particularly useful if you cannot make use of this knowledge.  Emotionally intelligent people think before they act on their feelings.  They are in tune with how they feel, but they do not let their emotions rule their lives.

4. They are motivated.

Emotionally intelligent people are motivated to achieve their goals and capable of managing their behaviours and feelings in order to achieve long-term success. They might be nervous about making a change, but they know that managing this fear is important.  By taking a leap and making the change, they know that they might come one step closer to attaining their goals.

5. They have great social skills.

Emotionally intelligent people also tend to have strong social skills, probably in part because they are so attuned to their own feelings as well as those of others.  They know how to deal with people effectively, and they are invested in maintaining healthy social relationships and helping those around them succeed.

6. They are willing and able to discuss feelings with others.

Sometimes people are empathetic and in tune with their emotions, but struggle to actually share these feelings with others.  Emotionally intelligent people not only understand feelings, they know how to express them appropriately. What exactly do we mean by appropriately? Imagine, for example, that you just had a particularly awful day at work. You are tired, frustrated, and angry about how things went at an important meeting.  An inappropriate expression of your feelings might involve coming home and getting into an argument with your spouse or sending a nasty email to your boss.  A more appropriate emotional reaction would be discussing your frustrations with your spouse, releasing some tension by going for a jog, and coming up with a plan to deal with it is a calm and collected way.

7. They are able to correctly identify the underlying causes of their emotions.

Imagine that you find yourself getting frustrated and irritable with a co-worker. As you assess your feelings, analyse what you're really upset about.  Are you perhaps overreacting to your co-worker’s actions, or does your irritation stem from underlying frustrations and pressure from another situation that is troubling you.  Emotionally intelligent people are able to look at the situation and correctly identify the true source of their feelings.  At first this might seem like an easy task, but the reality is that our emotional lives can be both complicated and messy.  Locating the exact source of your feelings can be particularly tricky when you are dealing with complex situations and powerful emotions.