November 19, 2018 / Larry Sloan

Emotional Intelligence: New Age or All the Rage?

It seems like everywhere I turn these days I see something about Emotional Intelligence (EI), or Emotional Quotient (EQ) as it is often called. So, what’s all the fuss? Is this just some rehashed principle based on teachings from the Age of Aquarius? Well, maybe. But I would argue it’s way more sophisticated.

Simply put, EI/EQ is the ability to:

  • recognize and know your own emotions (self-awareness)
  • manage these emotions and motivate/train yourself to respond in a more positive manner (self-management)
  • understand the emotions in others (reading emotions/empathy)
  • handle relationships in a more positive manner (relationship building)

Numerous books have been written on EI, including the classic book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman, in which he takes a rather pedagogical perspective on why we act the way we do (at times to our dismay when we look back on our actions). He discusses the workings of our brains, with particular attention to the “amygdala hijack” (that part of the brain that is hardwired to react quickly and before the logical part of the brain can process the incoming information). The bottom line is that, unlike one’s Intellectual Quotient (IQ), EI/EQ can be increased with time and practice. It is possible to re-wire those stubborn neuron connections in your brain that immediately cause you to flare up when your spouse or partner accuses you of not doing your fair share around the house.

Practically speaking, Goleman (and others) contend that a high EI/EQ can help you not only at home but, equally importantly, at the office. By mastering these skills, you can become a better leader. And those who are perceived as better leaders have greater chances of being promoted.

At the Future Leaders Institute meeting here in Washington, D.C., earlier this fall, I was honored to be selected as a “thought leader.” I introduced the topic of EI/EQ to the attendees, and their receptivity and interest was surprisingly high…so much so that I am developing a more comprehensive presentation that I would like to take on the road as I travel around the country visiting local sections. A 2019 webinar is also being considered.

EI/EQ is more complicated than it sounds. If it were easy, we wouldn’t be seeing so much attention to it in the business community these days. However, by focusing our attention on ourselves in a different way, we can indeed be “masters of our emotions” and begin to think differently about ourselves and how we deal with others.

What are your thoughts on EI/EQ in terms of what is needed for industrial hygienists? Let me know in the comments or drop me a line.

Larry Sloan

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


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