You probably also know people who are masters at managing their emotions; who almost never get angry. Instead, they will dispassionately look at a problem and calmly proffer a solution. They're excellent decision makers, and regardless of their apparent strengths, they're usually very humble and take criticism well. They even know when to use it to improve their performance.

People like this have a high degree of what is known as emotional intelligence, or EQ. They are very comfortable in their own skin i.e. they know themselves very well, and are equally very alert to the emotional propensity of others around them.

So, what exactly is emotional intelligence, and what can you do to improve yours?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they're telling you, and realize how they affect people around you. It also involves your perception of the emotional needs of others, for when you understand how they feel, you are better equipped to manage relationships with them more effectively.

People with high emotional intelligence are usually successful in almost all they do. Why? Because they are the ones with the excellent interpersonal skills required to get things done through other people somewhat, more efficiently. While "regular" intelligence is also important to success in life, emotional intelligence is the key to relating well to other people which is the avenue through which we get things done and achieve our goals.

The ability to effectively manage people and relationships is also very important to competent leadership, so developing and using your emotional intelligence can be a good way to show others the leader inside of you.

Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence:

Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, Social Skills

The good news is that emotional intelligence CAN be learned and you will definitely find the following tips useful to that effect:

  • Honestly evaluate yourself - who are you? Really! Everyone is unique. What are your strengths/ weaknesses? Ask questions about yourself from your family & friends who are stuck with you; especially because a lot of us suffer from a terminal disease known as SD or Self deceit! Be willing to take criticisms in good faith and collaborate with your loved ones to practice how to highlight your strengths and minimize your weaknesses in dealing with people.
  • Be determined to change and make conscious effort to be alert to your emotions and sensitive to those of other people. Take responsibility for your actions. If you hurt someone's feelings, apologize directly – don't ignore what you did or avoid the person, while hoping the issue will somewhat disappear – trust me, it never does!
  • Also learn to practice humility because it is a wonderfully endearing quality which does not mean that you're shy or lack self-confidence but rather that you know what you did, and you can be quietly confident about it.
  • Apply a balance of both the golden and global rules in your people interactions. The golden rule says to treat others as we want to be treated while the global rule says to treat others as they want to be treated. Therefore, whenever we apply the golden rule we should also somewhat try tilting toward the preference of the other person to gain more emotional currency.
  • Learn to relax and refuse to get upset any time there's a delay or something doesn't happen the way you want. Self control in difficult situations is a highly valued skill – outside the business world but especially within it.
  • Choose to love & respect people not because of who they are but simply because they are! Be courteous and considerate; scrutinize how your actions will affect others before you proceed. Think about how your decision will impact others, by imagining yourself in their place. If you must take the action, how can you help others deal with the effects?

In closing, it is imperative that I tell you about an interesting quote I found in the popular Chinese masterpiece literature, the Art of War, that says - "Knowing others and knowing one-self, in one hundred battles no danger. Not knowing the other and knowing oneself, one victory for one loss. Not knowing the other and not knowing oneself, in every battle certain defeat." 

As to what should be the topic of this write up, I thought of calling it the great equation, it also occurred to me to call it the critical key to success, I almost even wrote out a lengthy algebraic equation to explain it but eventually I realized that it really might mean different things to different people.

So I decided to label it: SLM=EQ +IQ!

Oluwayemisi Omotosho, CC,CL is Human Resource Practitioner and the Managing Partner at Chrysolite Outsourcing Limited, Abuja, an HR Consultancy Company focused on Organisational development. She is an international member if the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is a member of Unity Toastmasters Club, Jabi,Abuja