Raise your hand if you have worked with someone who sucks all of the energy and positivity out of a room – a prickly person who doesn’t seem to know how to listen or control their emotions effectively. My hand is raised; is yours? I would venture a guess and say that most of us have worked with people who just don’t seem to understand how to relate to others in a productive way. I would also venture a guess and say that we have all had moments in our career or personal life where we have made major social blunders that we wish we could take back. It is moments like these that should inspire us to improve our skills in an area known as Emotional Intelligence. These skills are often referred to as people or soft skills; and they refer to personality traits, characteristics, habits, and even friendliness that affect the way we relate to people. In the realm of advancing your career and living the “Fake It Till You Make It” lifestyle, these skills are pivotal.
I want to propose a theory – that by the time you get to a job interview it is much less a question of if you can do the job, and much more a question of if you are the type of person one would want to spend 40 hours per week with. Based on research I have read and my own personal experience – I believe that success often hinges more on soft skills than it does on technical ability. Now – I have to preface this by stating what I have shared in an earlier post – that I believe technical ability is non-negotiable. While I enjoy doctors with good bedside manner, I’m not going to go to one who doesn’t know how to practice medicine. I’m not saying that you can advance your career on soft skills alone, but I am saying that these skills play a really key role in performance.
Consider that a study by one of the leaders in emotional intelligence resources, Talent Smart, showed that 90 % of top performers also scored high on emotional intelligence measures; while only 20% of the lowest performers had high levels of emotional intelligence. The study even showed a salary gap of up to $29,000 annually between those with high and low Emotional IQ. I feel like that data is too big to ignore.
The thing I like most about the area of Emotional IQ is that it’s an area where self-improvement is possible, and I’m a big fan of self-improvement. While Intellectual IQ is pretty much set, Emotional IQ is fluid based on your temperament, life experience, influences, and choices – which means, when it comes to these skills, you can be the master of your own destiny. I’ve heard people say before “I’m just not a people person,” or “I’m just impatient”, and I call shenanigans on that! My answer to them would be “Are you a professional?” If the answer is yes, then guess what – it’s your responsibility to be a patient, people person, as well as master several other areas of Emotional IQ. I realize it may seem like a lot, but in the world of work, everyone has a customer. It may be a consumer, or it may be a large corporation, but somebody chooses and benefits from the products or services your organization produces. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that most customers will choose the business or professional exuding more Emotional IQ.
The main pillars of Emotional IQ/Soft Skills are:
Self-Awareness: Being well acquainted with your strengths and weaknesses and having self-confidence. Also knowing how your emotions operate and understanding the effect that they have on you.
Self -Management: Your ability to operate with self-control and handle your emotions in a healthy way. People who are strong with self-management can handle changes with grace, and they are often known for taking initiative and following through.
Social Awareness: Your ability to key into the emotional and social needs of others, and read social cues. Also – your ability to understand what makes your group or organization tick, and your comfort with social interactions.
Relationship Awareness: Being able to manage your relationships skillfully. A person with strong relationship awareness is also a good influencer who can work well in a team and manage conflict.
Because these four areas are so huge to success in career, I want to visit them in future posts. I am currently reviewing a variety of tools to pass onto you which will help you build your soft-skills, but for now, I just want you to do some basic self-evaluation. For example, if I read through these four pillars I immediately know that my strongest area is Relationship Awareness, and my weakest area is Self-Awareness. Can you see where you strengths and weaknesses are in the area of soft skills? If you need some clarification, you can take a free version of an Emotional IQ assessment here.
Image courtesy of [nattavut] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net