Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence

Have you had an experience with a colleague where the interaction was less than positive?  A few phrases or sentences or the entire conversation didn’t seem quite right?  Where you walked away from the interaction and wondered what had spiraled down?  If so, here is an opportunity to think about how you would like to engage differently in the future.  I would like to offer a framework that asks you to tune into your own thoughts and feelings first – to deepen your own self-awareness – to examine how you might engage differently, and better, with others.

The Emotional Intelligence (EQ) framework was outlined in the 1970’s and has continued to evolve to today.  The framework is 12 competencies (see descriptions below) that are divided into 4 quadrants:  Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management.  And the beauty of this framework is that everyone can grow in these 12 competencies.

The heart of the EQ framework is self-awareness which asks you to know yourself first.  It is tuning in to your thoughts and feelings about situations and people as that influences how your respond and engage with others.  Self-awareness involves these behaviors and actions:

  1. Knowing which emotions you are feeling and why;
  2. Realizing the link between your feelings and what you think, do, and say;
  3. Recognize how your feelings affect your performance;
  4. Knowing your strengths and development areas; and
  5. Exuding balanced, self-confidence.

Consider the first action – knowing your emotions and why – and the second – the link between your feelings and what you think, do and say.  And this is not touchy feeling; it’s about ensuring effective and productive interactions and conversations to accomplish the work at hand.  For example, if you are frustrated with someone, that emotion spills and impacts the interaction where perhaps the other person becomes defensive or simply says “yes” but walks away with a very negative impression.  The flip side is if you are pleased with the work and people you are working with, that emotion emanates from you and can positively shape the interaction.

One way to tune in to your emotions is to know your core values.  For example, if you value coaching and developing others, you probably enjoy developmental conversations with others.  You enjoy helping people learn, grow and be more successful.  If you value teamwork, you may enjoy ensuring that your team works well and effectively together.  If these are not core values of yours, you may wish to not manage others and, instead, be a high flying individual contributor.  Think about what is important to you and how that impacts the work you choose to do.

For action number three, consider days when you are feeling very good about yourself, your work, your colleagues, and ask yourself, “what is going well that I am feeling good about?”  Dig deep into this – is it because you were praised for a job well done or your colleague thanked you for your help in a significant project?  How can you replicate those good days?  And conversely, consider days when things aren’t going well.  Ask yourself, “what is going on? What am I thinking?  What am I feeling? What can I do differently? How can I change the situation for the better?”  Be honest with yourself to change the situation for the better.

Knowing your strengths and development areas is another avenue to increase your self-awareness.  If you are very good at analyzing data or crunching numbers, offer to help colleagues who aren’t and tap into those colleagues for things you aren’t good at, like organizing or creative problem solving, for example. As you review the EQ competencies, think about the ones you are good at and what areas you’d like to grow in.  One resource that provides development actions for increasing your EQ skills is the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.

Other resources for deepening your knowledge and application of EQ are a number of works by Daniel Goleman.  I’ll leave you with one quote from Goleman’s book Primal Leadership, “No matter what leaders set out to do – whether it’s creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action – their success depends on how they do it.  Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal task of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing they do will work as it could or should (page 3).”


Emotional Intelligence Descriptions – The 12 Competencies


  • Emotional Self-Awareness — Knowing one’s own emotions and their impact on others; knowing one’s strengths and development areas; exuding balanced, self confidence.


  • Achievement Orientation — Striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence.
  • Adaptability — Being flexible in handling change.
  • Emotional Self-Control — Keeping emotions in control and knowing how to handle disruptive impulses.
  • Positive Outlook — Demonstrating persistence in pursuing goals despite setbacks.

Social Awareness:

  • Empathy — Awareness of others’ perspectives, feelings, needs, and concerns.
  • Organizational Awareness — Reading groups’ currents and power relationships.

Relationship Management:

  • Conflict Management — Negotiating and resolving disagreements.
  • Coach and Mentor — Developing others.
  • Influence — Wielding effective tactics for persuasion.
  • Inspirational Leadership — Inspiring and guiding others.
  • Teamwork — Creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals.


Additional Resources


About the Author

Grayce Belvedere Young is deeply passionate about strengthening the capacity of her clients – growing leaders, developing organizations, and achieving results. Grayce brings twenty-five years of organizational development and strategic planning expertise from numerous industries and the nonprofit world. Prior to seven years in the consulting realm, Grayce held leadership roles at UnitedHealth Group and Thomson-West Group (now Thomson-Reuters).


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