This article was originally published on EventMB & reprinted here with permission.
Emotional Intelligence can be described as that special talent some people have to be in tune with other people. The most successful leaders and event planners have high emotional intelligence. Here is how to harness this intuition.
Emotional Intelligence is the concept of being aware of, understanding, managing, and even harnessing your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence was first conceived in 1920 by psychologist Edward Thorndike. He believed that there was a strong relationship between intelligence and the ability to “act wisely in social relations.” This theory was expanded on in the 1990’s by psychologists Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey, who coined the phrase “emotional intelligence”.
Over the years, the self-help circles, authors, and our own culture have diluted the original meaning of emotional intelligence, changing the concept of it to a person simply having charisma and social skills. It goes much deeper than that, though.
Why Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?
As an #eventprof, digging deeper into this realm can help you become more successful. Measuring emotional intelligence consists of your ability to identify and regulate your own emotions and the emotions of others, as well as focus your emotions to help you be more productive. When you are able to successfully manage and understand emotions, you can better navigate situations and relationships throughout your personal and professional life.
Do You Have High Emotional Intelligence?
If you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you have the ability to manage your own emotions effectively, keeping yourself and your team calm in stressful situations, or even motivating when necessary. As this skill comes naturally for many great leaders, it is debated as to whether or not this “skill” in inherent or can be learned. Regardless, here are some traits to think about to help you better understand the concept behind emotional intelligence.
Identifying and Controlling Your Own Emotions
As we learned at a young age, it is important to control your own emotions. As eventprofs, we constantly experience stressful situations, and often encounter change. Your emotional intelligence is strongly related to how well you are able to handle these changes and situations. Once you are able to control your emotions, you can begin to identify the cause behind them. Whether it is fear, happiness, nervousness, anxiety, frustration, annoyance, concern, or even excitement, controlling that emotion is often necessary to be successful.
For example, if a client feels that you are scared, they may not think you are up for their challenge. If you are excited or happy about something else going in your life, and it is distracting you to the point of missing deadlines, you may need to tune that out for a bit to be able to get things done. Once you are able to understand and analyze why you are feeling a particular way, you can begin to determine the best ways to control or change that emotion. This can be considerably important to eventprofs, as we continually step outside our boundaries and experience new and exciting (sometimes scary) situations.
Focusing Your Emotions
If you can’t control your emotions, you will more than likely find yourself in stressful and unwelcome situations quite frequently. Once you can accurately identify your emotions, you can begin to focus those emotions.
If you decide to take a nap because you think the overwhelming feeling you have is actually you being tired, you may end up stressing yourself out even more, waking up to a bigger to-do list. If you are stressed, you may need a small break, instead of misinterpreting the emotion by thinking you are hungry and eating a snack. By accurately identifying your emotions, you can make better decisions on how to handle them. If you are overwhelmed, it would be wise to delegate some tasks. If you are tired, a short nap or walk may be the best solution.
If you are unfocused, and can’t seem to “get in the groove”, start by determining why you are distracted instead of unsuccessfully fighting it all day. Whether it is because you are sleepy, unmotivated, excited, or even nervous, figure out the reason and focus on resolving that issue. Once you can identify and act on your emotions, you may just find that you can focus even more, allowing you to create more amazing events!
Identifying and Controlling Other People’s Emotions
This is not about brainwashing or manipulating other people! Instead this concept is about empathy and being to effectively understand how people are reacting to you, so you can determine the best course of action. It is being able to effectively gauge your team to ensure they are responding to you how you expected them to respond.
Everyone interprets things differently. The goal is to obviously have everyone on the same page, but if your team or client is reacting in a way that you did not expect, it is crucial that you accurately determine why that response is occurring. Everyone is motivated in different ways. By being in tune with how your team and colleagues are feeling, you are able to provide multiple solutions to keep everyone happy and motivated.
Great planners actually use this intelligence when they create amazing events! By understanding what your attendees are delegates are looking for in an event, #eventprofs can proactively begin to create meaningful experiences.
Reacting to the Intelligence
Planners with high emotional intelligence can effectively gauge how a meeting or event is progressing, and can pivot accordingly if needed. By successfully identifying that a client is not excited about your idea, you are able to immediately act and find other ways to motivate them. If you working on a project with a colleague, and you are aware that one of you is getting frustrated, you can quickly change the strategies being used before the frustrated feeling becomes overwhelming. Planners with high emotional intelligence can even gauge attendees at an event, making any necessary changes on the fly.
It is critical to be able to gauge the overall feeling of the group. By being aware of smaller changes in attitude and emotion, you can effectively steer the group to keep them motivated and excited. Planners with high emotional intelligence are empathetic enough to understand how their colleagues or guests are feeling, and can solve any concerns that arise quickly, before they have a chance to escalate.
While it may be seem silly to think about, monitoring the emotional level of your team, as well as yourself, is important for long-term success. A happy and healthy workplace environment is always talked about, but many leaders do not understand how to actually achieve this atmosphere. It is not just about providing food, games, or paid outings. While a good work/play balance is necessary, ultimately, it is about the underlying feelings and emotions that each person has with the daily aspects of the job and how the leaders can react to those emotions. Are people overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Happy? Excited? Motivated? Bored? Content?
How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
While Mayer and Salovey disagreed whether or not emotional intelligence was inherent and could or could not be learned and improved upon, there are ways to become more in tune with yourself and the people around you. Begin by looking at your own emotions. Reflect on the fact that while you may not be able to control what you feel, you can control how it effects your life. Keep a journal, taking note of your feelings and how you it affected your day. Were you more productive? Less productive? Distracted? Focused? Excited? Motivated? If possible, try to include what caused that emotion. You can also expand your research by monitoring your colleagues, and asking them how they are feeling to see if your observations were accurate. For this to be beneficial, though, you must have a good and trusting work environment to ensure that you actually get the truth.
Event planners with high emotional intelligence understand the concept of being aware of, understanding, managing, and even harnessing their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Those that are able to understand and harness this have an accurate feel for the atmosphere and climate of their team, colleagues, and events. Once you can effectively empathize with others, you can become more successful reading people and understanding their needs and concerns. You can also more successfully determine their strengths and weaknesses better, build stronger relationships, and communicate and negotiate more effectively.