Among the various core ingredients of talent and career success, few personal qualities have received more attention in the past decade than emotional intelligence (EQ), the ability to identify and manage your own and others’ emotions. Importantly, unlike most of the competencies that make it into the HR zeitgeist of buzzwords, EQ is no fad.In fact, thousands of academic studies have demonstrated the predictive power of scientific EQ assessments vis-à-vis job performance, leadership potential, entrepreneurship and employability. Moreover, the importance of EQ has been highlighted beyond work-related settings, as higher scores have been associated with relationship success, mental and physical health, and happiness.All this is good news for people with higher EQ. But what can those with lower scores do to improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal skills? Is it possible to increase your own and others’ EQ beyond its natural levels? While Goleman and other popular writers argue that (unlike IQ) EQ is malleable and trainable, EQ is really just a combination of personality traits. Accordingly, it is not set in stone; it is largely heritable, shaped by childhood experiences, and fairly stable over time.This does not mean that the effort put toward sculpting emotionally intelligent behaviors is a waste of time. It simply means that focus and dedication are required. The same goes for helping others to act with EQ when they are not naturally inclined to do so. Here are five critical steps for developing EQ:Turn self-deception into self-awarenessPersonality, and thereby EQ, is composed of two parts: identity (how we see ourselves) and reputation (how others see us). For most people there is a disparity between identity and reputation that can cause them to ignore feedback and derail. Real self-awareness is about achieving a realistic view of one’s strengths and weaknesses and of how those strengths and weaknesses compare to others’. For instance, most people rate their own EQ highly, yet only a minority of those individuals will be rated as emotionally intelligent by others. Turning self-deception into self-awareness will not happen without accurate feedback, the kind that comes from data-based assessments such as a valid personality tests or 360-degree feedback surveys. Such tools are fundamental to help us uncover EQ-related blind spots, not least because other people are generally too polite to give us negative feedback.Turn self-focus into other-focus Paying due attention to others is tantamount to career success. But for those with lower levels of EQ, it’s difficult to see things from others’ perspectives, especially when there is no clear right or wrong way forward. Developing an other-centric approach starts with a basic appreciation and acknowledgement of team members’ individual strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. Brief but frequent discussions with team members will lead to a more thorough understanding of how to motivate and influence others. Such conversations should inspire ways to create opportunities for collaboration, teamwork, and external networking.Be more rewarding to deal withPeople who are more employable and successful in their career tend to be seen as more rewarding to deal with. Rewarding people tend to be cooperative, friendly, trusting and unselfish. Unrewarding individuals tend to be more guarded and critical; they are willing to speak their minds and disagree openly but can develop a reputation for being argumentative, pessimistic, and confrontational. Although this reputation helps enforce high standards, it’s only a matter of time before it erodes relationships and the support for initiatives that accompany them. It’s important that these individuals ensure an appropriate level of interpersonal contact before tasking someone or asking them for help. Proactively and frequently sharing knowledge and resources without an expectation for reciprocity will go a long way.Control your temper tantrumsPassion and intense enthusiasm can easily cross the line to become moodiness and outright excitability when the pressure’s on. Nobody likes a crybaby. And in the business world, those who become particularly disappointed or discouraged when unanticipated issues arise are viewed as undeserving of a seat at the grown-ups’ table. If you’re one of many people who suffer from too much emotional transparency, reflect on which situations tend to trigger feelings of anger or frustration and monitor your tendency to overreact in the face of setbacks. For example, if you wake up to a bunch of annoying emails, don’t respond immediately — wait until you have time to calm down. Likewise, if someone makes an irritating comment during a meeting, control your reaction and keep calm. While you cannot go from being Woody Allen to being the Dalai Lama, you can avoid stressful situations and inhibit your volatile reactions by detecting your triggers. Start working on tactics that help you become aware of your emotions in real time, not only in terms of how you experience them, but, more important, in terms of how they are being experienced by others.Display humility, even if it’s fakeSometimes it can feel like you’re working on an island managed by six-year-olds. But if you’re the type of person who often thinks, “I’m surrounded by idiots,” then it’s likely that your self-assured behaviors are seen as being arrogant, forceful, and incapable of admitting mistakes. Climbing the organizational ladder requires an extraordinary degree of self-belief, which, up to a certain point, is seen as inspirational. However, the most-effective leaders are the ones who don’t seem to believe their own hype, for they come across as humble. Striking a healthy balance between assertiveness and modesty, demonstrating receptiveness to feedback and the ability to admit one’s mistakes, is one of the most difficult tasks to master. When things go wrong, team members seek confident leadership, but they also hope to be supported and taught with humility as they work to improve the situation. To develop this component of EQ, it is sometimes necessary to fake confidence, and it’s even more important to fake humility. We live in a world that rewards people for hiding their insecurities, but the truth is that it is much more important to hide one’s arrogance. That means swallowing one’s pride, picking and choosing battles, and looking for opportunities to recognize others, even if you feel you are right and others are wrong.While the above recommendations may be hard to follow all the time, you will still benefit if you can adopt them some of the time. Much as with other coaching interventions, the goal here is not to change your personality but to replace counterproductive behaviors with more-adaptive actions — to build new habits that replace toxic tendencies and improve how others perceive you. This is why, when coaching works, it invalidates the results of a personality test: Your default predispositions are no longer evidenced in your behaviors.
How to Boost Your (and Others’) Emotional Intelligence
How Do You Know What You Are Good At?
As a worker, knowing your skills and talents will help you excel by seeking out and performing in a role that fits your strengths. Knowing yourself requires more than a general sense of intuition about your abilities – it also takes rigorous assessment.The following steps can help you identify what you have to offer.Find out what drives youA majority of millennials say purpose is a priority in their career. This is important to know in assessing, because where there is passion, the drive to succeed, learn and improve follows. Ask yourself what you would do if a paycheck wasn’t on the line. Nurture this curiosity and desire to explore new things, which translates into Learnability, and continual improvement.Identify what’s not workingOn the opposite spectrum, you should identify what you don’t like doing at work, or even if you hate your job. This is likely to be correlated with poor performance. Is the problem to do with your tasks and responsibilities? Or is your low job satisfaction more to do with a difficult boss or coworker? If the problem is your duties, try taking a career assessment questionnaire or seeking out the help of a career consultant. These can help you identify roles in other industries that you may not have considered. If the problem is your boss, you may solve the issue by transitioning to to another department or into another role within the organization.Seek outside perspectiveYou may feel like you know yourself better than anyone else, but you’re not necessarily the most objective evaluator of your own skills. Instead, you can view yourself through the eyes of an employer by taking a professional skills or personality assessment and leverage the results to identify your strengths. Similarly, you can find a career coach to help you better understand your value to employers. Finally, ask your boss, a co-worker, or trusted friend to provide you with feedback.In the end, knowing where you excel – and where you fall short – requires a blend of both introspection and external help and input. Knowing where your true talent lies will help nurture and grow where you have the most potential, and where you can thrive right now.
Planning for Job Change
Will this new year bring another transition for you? Here are strategies and skills to help you during potential career transitions in the coming year. Assess your goals A new year can be an opportunity to assess what you want out of work and your life, including perks like flexible scheduling or remote work. Rather than immediately falling into a job search, evaluate your last or current job: What aspects did you like or dislike? Is it time to make a change? Where do you want to go next? Is entrepreneurship an option? Create a life map of where you would like to be in three to five years. Feeling like you have more control over the situation will lessen your perception of stress. Manage your timeSearching for a job is more than a full-time job. Sometimes it feels like you can’t keep up, and other times it feels like all you do is wait. It can help with peace of mind to set aside times to actively search, to write follow-ups, and even to wait guilt-free. Don’t let the job search take up your entire life. Set incremental goalsA new role or career may be your ultimate goal, and achieving that end can sometimes feel overwhelming. To help you get there, set incremental and smaller steps to achieve. You can also pick up freelance work, consulting, contract jobs or even volunteer positions. This part-time or temporary work can help pay bills or bolster your resume while your searching for a permanent job. Don’t overlook these opportunities while continuing to pursue full-time work. Finally, remember that whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or like you have lost control of the process, take a break. Go for a walk or perform an activity that you enjoy.You need downtime to help maintain your mental health, and you can always resume again later.
How to Reframe Career Gaps
For the first time in more than a decade, a single historical event has affected millions of careers at once. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not just jobs lost, but also career trajectories for those who were expecting to move up in their organizations or find new responsibilities.The good news is that the large-scale change in work situations has helped change how employers think about “career gaps” on the resume. It’s no longer just about taking a step back in a career –– it can also be seen as stepping up to help families and communities. As a result, LinkedIn has updated profile options to elevate “stay at home parent” roles or sabbaticals for family leave. Here are other ways job candidates can rethink and reframe their job gaps, especially in light of the COVID-19 impact. Become a mentor You can continue to show leadership skills beyond a job title, such as signing on to be a mentor for an organization or an advisor to a start-up. If you want to be a mentor, finding the right mentee is a lot like the other side of the equation. Network and talk to key people in your company or network about the type of person you want to be a mentor to, and be specific. You can also check with your alma mater about alumni/student mentoring programs you can join. Becoming a mentor can be a valuable addition to your experience and resume.Keep improving job skillsThere are no shortage of ways to re-skill and upskill with online education and courses, and not having a full-time job can provide more opportunity for growth in soft skills. This includes communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organized, collaborating and the ability to analyze and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles.Step into volunteer rolesConsider volunteer roles that add expertise and knowledge to your tool kit. Use volunteering as an opportunity to try something new, perhaps a career you always wanted to explore. You may find it as exciting as you dreamed, or it may lack the glamour or fulfillment you envisioned. Follow your passion – when you are giving back to something you believe, it is much easier to learn new skills.Ultimately, employers will be much more understanding of gaps in your resume during this past year, given the circumstances. At the same time, this is an opportunity to keep learning and growing –– and find what you really want to do in your career.
Searching for Jobs After College
Moving from college to the workplace traditionally requires major adjustments, including acquiring new skills on the job and learning to balance independent projects. Right now, economic and public health uncertainty only adds to the stress on college graduates. But stepping back, slowing down and taking concrete steps can help mitigate anxieties and improve your outlook. Here are ways to help navigate the unchartered waters. Build a mentor relationship In college, students can easily stop by a professor’s office hours or book an appointment with your academic advisor or job counselor. The same principles of mentorship are just as important to getting started in the workplace. After you graduate, you have to be more proactive about securing your own mentor. Having a mentor will enable you to learn what employers expect from new grads and you can use the information to make yourself job ready, and also help find new opportunities in sectors that are hiring. Take a skills inventory Does your resume reflect all that you are capable of accomplishing? Make sure that you reflect not just your major and hard skills, but also soft skills like learnability that shows you can make adjustments during turbulent periods. Research from ManpowerGroup has concluded that 65% of the jobs Generation Z will perform do not even exist yet, and right now is certainly a time of disruption and change. Show how your past has prepared you for a future that is evolving and being invented in front of us. Be open to new forms of work Look beyond the full-time permanent roles. In some sectors, hiring is ramping up right now for temporary or short-term work. Taking a temporary job to help meet demand may provide an in to a company, or an end in itself. Today, nearly 9 in 10 workers are open to NextGen work– part-time, contingent, contract, freelance or temporary. As younger workers bring tech-savvy skills to the workplace, new graduates can turn to flexible employment opportunities where it is needed most. Reach out to help others Right now, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision with respect to your own needs. No one will blame you for that. But many others are going through the same uncertainty, and seeking ways to help is not a zero-sum game. Over time, how you treat others builds a reputation. Recognizing others need assistance, offering to be of service through small acts like proofing someone else’s resume or sending an email with encouragement will become an extension of your resume. Do it for its own reward, and it’s likely to help deepen and expand your network as well. After years of being in the school system, it will take new grads time to transition to a new world –– and that’s never been true more than now. For college graduates, it’s important to be patient, keep being productive where you can be, and keep the faith.
Top Communication Skills Employers Seek From College Grads
If you are a recent graduate, now is the time to work on refining certain skills to help your transition to the workplace.This summer, a new group of ambitious college graduates will hit the job market. Along with their energy and enthusiasm also comes inexperience. Here are the top communication skills that employers want to see from new grads. Listen, listen, listenWhen you are just starting out, you should listen more than you talk. Really hear what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. The person speaking to you should be the most important person. Don’t multitask. This means that if you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time. Be clear and concise Maybe every once in a while, on occasion it could be said that a college student filled a 20-page paper will a few filler words to meet a minimum word count. In the business setting, however, time is money. Getting to the point in a presentation or meeting is a premium communication skill. Work on clearly articulating your point in a concise and direct manner.Project management skills In college, a big project rarely lasted longer than a semester, and usually were much shorter. But in the workplace, you are often expected to juggle multiple projects that can last six months, a year or longer. Set several milestone goals, check in on progress regularly, get feedback, and use the resources of others around you. Practice the art of meetings Meetings in an office are also different than the group meetings or the dorms at college. To respect others’ time, always send out an agenda before the meeting, giving participants enough time to prepare. At the start of the meeting, establish the ground rules for communicating, and any other expectations. Finally, send meeting minutes to those who participated or who will be affected by what was discussed. Organizations know that it will take time for new graduates to get acclimated to their new work environment. That’s also a two-way street. Spend time getting up to speed in your communication practices, and the transition will be smoother for everyone.
How to Move Past Setbacks at Work
After a setback or mistake at work, at one time or another, we have all questioned our abilities or if we were in the right role. But it’s important to consider the big picture and get stronger from setbacks. Here are questions to ask, ways to learn from your mistakes and come back stronger. Determine your core strengthsDo you feel like your work is an effective use of your talents – or are you lacking in a key skill? This may seem overly basic, but for a variety of reasons sometimes your skills aren’t where you can best align them in your role. You may have missed the mark if you didn’t have the proper training, support or understanding of your role. Talk with your supervisor to learn exactly what you need to succeed, and where you can grow. Take pride in your workEvery job has elements that can feel like chores. But take a deeper look if this is a temporary unpleasantness or a systematic problem. Many successful projects will have trial and error or even failure built in on the path toward meaningful changes. Ask yourself at the end of the day, where can you reflect on your work and have a sense of pride in your accomplishments and what you’ve produced for the world?Find support from mentorsEveryone has their own examples of coming up short, and often that’s people on your own team who can relate most to the same type of mistakes. Lean into these relationships when you need them and ask for support. A robust support system can help you get through frustrations and setbacks, and one of the best indicators of job satisfaction is the relationships you build with colleagues, bosses and others at your work.Focus on what you can controlWith setbacks, there can be factors outside of your control. But you will be more resilient if you focus on what you can control, such as upskilling, growing and improving. Learnability is the desire and ability to continually learn and grow throughout our careers. To keep that skill sharp, ask yourself what a setback can teach you, and what you can learn. After a setback, the key is to continue to understand what happened and adapt. Look to the future, understand that mistakes will happen, and make the experience a catalyst for becoming better.
How to Practice Gratitude at Work
Grateful people are successful people.“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” says Professor Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher and professor of psychology at UC Davis.Employees who excel at work don’t wait for something good to happen to be thankful; it’s often the other way around. To get yourself on the gratitude track, here are ways to increase gratitude in the workplace.Notice the small thingsAt the end of the work day, make a list of three things that went right. Even if it was a challenging day, anyone can find three positives, such as finishing an important email, booking a meeting or committing to taking a lunch break. Put this in a prominent place at your desk where you’ll see it when you arrive the next day. Be thankful for small wins and use the moment to start the day with momentum.Compliment a colleagueIt’s easy to get wrapped up in our routine and challenges we face. But even when you’re busy – and especially when you’re busy – pausing to notice the accomplishments of a colleague and thank them will lighten your load. When you pay attention to catch your co-workers doing something right, you’re less likely to negatively stew over your problems. The positivity will be reflected back on your mood and productivity.Write simple thank you notesYou don’t have to make a big show of gratitude. A simple post-it-note that’s left on your monitor or on a colleague’s desk will do the job just fine. It’s not the stationary that counts – it’s the thought.Create a digital gratitude folderWhen you get an email that means a lot to you, don’t delete it or let it sit in your inbox. Instead, start a gratitude email folder for compliments and projects you’ve accomplished. Scroll through it on days when you need the extra boost.Gratitude takes work, but it’s worth it. Being mindful of what’s right can help build momentum into a beneficial upward cycle. Thanks for reading – now pass it on.