- Self Awareness – having a deep understanding of your emotions, how they affect you, what impact they have on others and how they affect your performance. For example, knowing that giving a presentation to peers stresses you out, you might rehearse with a trusted colleague, hire a speaking coach, or go to a Toastmasters group. In addition, you might do some journaling to visualize yourself giving a presentation and explore your strong emotions and where they come from.
- Self Expression – openly expressing one's feelings verbally and non-verbally. This includes having a healthy level of assertiveness, which is the ability to communicate feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly, and defend personal rights and values in a socially acceptable and non-offensive manner. It includes the ability to engage in healthy conflict and the practice of setting boundaries and saying "no" when needed.
- Interpersonal Relationships – refers to the skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by trust and compassion. It includes the ability to be empathic when others are expressing their feelings or holding a calm presence when others have strong emotions. A person with maturity in this skill articulates understanding of another's perspective, is willing to apologize when called for, and consistently behaves in a way that respects other's feelings.
- Decision Making – the ability to be objective by seeing things as they really are and to seek out others' input into a problem or challenge. This capacity involves recognizing when emotions or personal bias can cause one to be less objective. In solving problems, it is finding solutions where emotions are involved and the ability to understand how emotions impact decision-making. When one's own emotions are triggered, it is the ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive or temptation to act rashly.
- Stress Tolerance – involves coping with difficult situations and believing that one can manage or influence situations in a positive manner. It is adapting emotions, thoughts and behaviors to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances or ideas. It is an outlook that is hopeful and resilient, despite occasional setbacks. It is behaviors that seek to maintain balance physically, mentally and emotionally.
Highly effective leaders are always seeking new ways to increase their capacity. The good news is that EQ is not set in stone. It can be improved through increasing self awareness, getting support from a coach or mentor and by focusing on one improvement area over a period of time. The journey can be fun and enlivening and the results worth all the effort. I will close with one of my favorite quotes by Carlos Castenada: "We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong - the amount of work is the same."