Using Your Results
Correlating your score on this test with those from your values, skills, and interests tests should show you some patterns that you can use to further your career research. A person with a high EI score in empathy is likely to be drawn to careers in teaching, counseling, and other occupations involving social interaction, as opposed to careers that focus on clerical or administrative duties.
You can go about improving your EI the same way you would go about learning a sport, playing the piano, or driving a stick shift: practice. One psychologist likened improving EI as learning “a whole new language.” With practice, you will grow comfortable with your self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and social understanding, and they will become second nature. Dr. Charles Spezzano has an elegant analogy in What to Do Between Birth and Death: The Art of Growing Up (Avon). He compares being adult (or for your purposes here, emotionally intelligent) to weight lifting. If you've been emotionally hurt, you get into the habit of “lifting as little emotional weight as possible” by avoiding or denying any emotion that causes you pain. It's easier, just as lifting light weights is easy. But lifting light weights doesn't build muscle, and avoiding emotions keeps you from growing and keeps you one step removed from life. He says the result is that you get “more and more out of shape emotionally.”
If you're still not quite convinced about the value of EI, consider this: Emotional incompetence can be bad for your health. Sadness has been linked to low blood pressure, low energy, and lower immune responses; stress has been linked to immune responses, such as eczema; and out-of-control anger to heart attacks, strokes, headaches, and high blood pressure. One study at the Harvard School of Public Health followed 1,300 men over seven years. Those with the highest levels of anger were three times more likely to develop heart disease than the men with the lowest anger levels (
Emotional Intelligence Matters
What can a high EI score do for you in the workplace? EI can do a lot more than you might think at first glance. Assuming your work requires you to interact with other people at least some of the time, EI can help you:
Set, pursue, and achieve goals
Work more efficiently
Recruit and retain talent
Get along with people
Be sensitive to others' feelings
Cope with difficult people
Build customer loyalty
Cope with unpleasant emotions
Control your temper
Work in and manage teams
Grow more confident
Head off arguments and resolve conflicts
Rise to meet challenges
Emotional intelligence is an important thing, but it isn't the only thing. It can't guarantee you success any more than a high intelligence quotient will. But all things being equal — if you and your peers have similar academic credentials and intelligence — the scale tips in favor of the one with the higher EI.
Out with the Old, in with the New
Here are some tips to help you unlearn old habits and develop new ones as you work on your emotional competencies.
Find out more about you. The better you know yourself, the better you can recognize and manage your emotions. Spend some alone time in reflection. Try to identify the emotion you're feeling and how your body reacts to it. If it helps, write down your thoughts about your emotions. Choose your emotion. Decide to be more confident, happy, relaxed, or outgoing.
Pay attention to what triggers different emotional reactions in you. Try to think realistically about any given situation — and your reaction to it. If you're passed over for a promotion, rather than bemoaning your fate or cursing your boss, try to figure out why the other person was promoted. What skills does she exhibit that you may not have? Is she persuasive, empathetic, a good communicator? Does she collaborate well and foster trust? Once you figure that out, you can begin to improve those emotional competencies in yourself.
Practice delaying gratification and rewards.
Improve your coping skills. You don't have to react to everything immediately. Yes, write that irate e-mail, but don't send it.
Try to be less impulsive. If you get laid off, don't angrily burn your bridges; if someone seems to insult you in a meeting, don't snap at him or fire off a sniping e-mail later. Such actions can come back to haunt you — especially if there's the possibility of getting more work or a recommendation from your former employer or you've misinterpreted the situation with your coworker.
When your emotions get too heated, calm down. Count to ten, find the humor in the situation, meditate, and take a break. Time-outs work for unruly kids, and they can work for unruly emotions, too.
Break the cycle. For example, don't let irritation escalate into anger or sadness plummet into despondence. When you learn to recognize the signs such emotions cause in your body, you can calm down, analyze the situation, and start to fix it. If necessary, look into an anger management program.
Be proactive about finding solutions to problems rather than just fretting about them.
Teach yourself to replace negative or pessimistic thoughts with positive thoughts and actions.
Assert yourself and honor your needs. If you find yourself acquiescing to others or agreeing to help others to the detriment of your own needs, learn how to say a simple “no.”
Remember your emotional budget. Don't squander your most earnest feelings on every little thing.
Realize how a well-developed emotional intelligence fits with your values and those goals and ideals most important to you.
Look back over the lists of values, skills, interests, and personality traits that you have compiled from the other tests in this book. You should be impressed with your unique qualities and inspired to find a career that incorporates them.
Use this positive reinforcement to help you feel motivated to excel.
Work on a positive can-do attitude. The more confident you become in your abilities, the more likely you'll be able to stay motivated when you face challenges.
Set clear, specific, measurable, and realistic but challenging goals. If you have a big, long-range goal, break it up into smaller steps. You'll know what success feels like as you achieve each goal, and the task won't seem so overwhelming.
Give yourself deadlines so you know when you're making progress.
Find a motivational mentor, someone whose behaviors you admire and want to emulate. The person can be fictional, or even no longer alive, as long as he or she inspires you.
Give yourself a pep talk. You can be your own life coach. Pat yourself on the back when you do a good job and learn to give yourself positive feedback.
Visualize your success. Imagine yourself going through all the steps of the task you're avoiding, and then imagine how you feel when you've successfully completed it.
Improve your listening skills. You may be hearing the words and think you know what the other person means, but also try restating what you're hearing to make sure you got it right. Make eye contact, nod, and refrain from interrupting.
Really try to understand where the other person is coming from. Try to think how you would feel in that situation. You know what they say: You don't really know your boss until you walk a mile in her shoes. It might not be as easy as you think.
Realize that it's easier to feel empathy for people you already agree with or who already do as you say. It's much harder to maintain that empathetic feeling if you're angry or frustrated. Remember that you can empathize with and disagree with someone at the same time.
Pay attention to body language and posture changes in other people as you talk to them and they talk to you.
Think of the words your boss or staff would use to describe you. How would you like them to describe you?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's a truism because it's true. If you're helpful and understanding toward your coworkers, they'll be more likely to act the same way toward you.
Focus on the positive rather than the negative. Don't just criticize a staff person's report because of its grammatical errors. Find something to compliment about it, too, such as the clear design or the quality of the writing.
Focus on others instead of yourself. We seem to live in a culture of entitlement where everyone “deserves” everything simply “because.”
Kindness requires empathy. Volunteer with an organization that helps people less fortunate than you. There's no better way to find out how lucky you really are.
List the ways that improved EI could help you work with the people at your job.
Find ways to get people working together rather than at cross-purposes. Ask for help finding a solution to a problem, look for ways to compromise so everyone gets some part of what he wants, and give each person an equal turn to express her ideas or partake in a project.
Share. It's drilled into us as children, and it's just as important in the workplace. Learn to share tasks, resources, and, most especially, credit.
Build relationships based on trust. You need a few people you can express your emotions to honestly and openly.
Understand that other people's working or thinking styles can be different from yours. They aren't necessarily better or worse — just different. You can feed off another's drive to stay motivated or learn to ease up through another's more relaxed manner.
Express your appreciation of the work others are doing. No need to gush; keep it simple and sincere.
Learn good communication skills.
Give feedback in a way that encourages your staff to listen to you. If you ask for lots of ideas, don't then shoot them all down as “stupid.” If you want staff to give feedback to you, don't fly off the handle if it's not all positive.
Remember that your posture, gestures, and facial expressions can express just as much (if not more) than your words can. Make sure they match your intent.