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To Know What Emotional Intelligence Is, Know What It Is Not

We talk about emotional intelligence all the time. But do we understand what it is all about?
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A picture of eggs with different emotions drawn on them.
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

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In days past, competence at the workplace could all boil down to where you went to college or your expertise in a particular field.

But this is changing.

How we handle ourselves—and by extension, others—are taking center stage when it comes to measuring our competence at the workplace—a measure that is increasingly being applied in the hiring and firing process.

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You hear about this in popular speech as emotional intelligence (EQ).

And although it commands such incredible power in our professional lives, it appears that some of us do not still fully grasp what it means to be emotionally intelligent.

Here are some misconceptions rampant in our understanding of it, so you can better understand what it is not.

  • You do not have to feel compelled to “be nice always” to the point that “anything goes” to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is about confronting harsh truths about oneself and having difficult conversations with each other without being a jerk about it.
  • You do not have to let your feelings run wildly to the point that others must acquiesce to your sensibilities to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is about managing and regulating your emotions so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling everyone to work together as a cohesive whole towards a common, larger goal.
  • You do not have to be genetically gifted or develop an affinity for it in your childhood to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence, unlike IQ, is not something that is set in stone from a certain age. It is malleable and trainable—and you can hone it as you grow in life and learn from new experiences.
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Emotional intelligence is a valuable set of skills that can help you navigate the workplace’s vagaries without betraying your feelings and the feelings of others besides.

But before you can call it a tool in your toolbox of skills, it is imperative that you first learn what the tools are and what they are not.

After all, you do not become an emotionally intelligent person by being a pushover. Neither can you do it by rocking the boat all the time. 

The trick, therefore, is to know when and where it is best to deploy them. 

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