Quick Guide: The 4 Keys to Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – developing your emotional intelligence will improve your performance. It will take time, but will lead to sustainable behaviour changes that will improve the way you manage yourself and the way you work with others.

Just some of the advantages of being emotionally intelligent are:

  • Improved relationships
  • Improved communication with others
  • Better empathy skills
  • Acting with integrity
  • Respect from others
  • Improved career prospects
  • Managing change more confidently
  • Fewer power games at work
  • Feeling confident and positive
  • Reduced stress levels

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence:

  • 97% of highly successful individuals measure high in EQ.
  • According to Forbes 85% of Financial Success is due to EQ – 15% to IQ.
  • 58% of Job Performance depends on EQ (Schmidt 2012).
  • Employee Engagement is highly correlated to EQ – an engaged Employee is 30% more productive than one who is neutral or not engaged

1. Regard:

Self-Regard (or Self-Esteem):

How much do you value yourself as a person? Self-regard is about who you are, not what you do. All too often people develop conditions of worth to substitute for self-regard, focusing on what they achieve or own rather than who they are. If we like and accept ourselves it will have a positive impact on all situations.

Regard for Others:

How much do you value others as people, as distinct from what they do? How often do you find yourself making judgements of others based on your own values? It is perfectly acceptable to criticize other people’s behaviour (as long as it is constructive criticism), but never acceptable to judge them as a person. For example, ‘What you did was stupid’ is very different from thinking or saying, ‘You are stupid.’

2. Awareness:


How much are you in touch with your intuition and feelings? How well do you listen to what your body is telling you? Hundreds of times a day our emotional brain communicates with us via feelings. People with low self-awareness often don’t notice this or learn from it.

Awareness of Others:

How well tuned in are you to the feeling states of others? How well do you pick up on other people’s non-verbal cues telling you how they are feeling? Do you regularly show empathy towards others and really listen to what they are telling you?

3. Self-Management:

Emotional Resilience:

How well do you bounce back when things go wrong? It is a fact that we will all experience negative things in our lives that will trigger negative emotions. This could range from your train being cancelled to being fired from your job or losing a close friend. Emotional resilience is about how effectively you recover from these situations, turning negative attitudes, thoughts and emotions into more positive ones.

Personal Power:

How much do you take control of your life, seeing yourself as being responsible for your own actions? The opposite of personal power is to see yourself as a victim, always looking to blame other people or things for your failure to succeed.

Goal Directedness:

How clear are you on your goals and how much do your attitudes, beliefs and actions support you by moving you towards these goals? Or do you regularly find yourself procrastinating, looking for excuses or spending time on things that will not help you to achieve your goals?


Change is a fact of life. All of us will experience regular changes at work and at home. Flexibility is about how free you feel to adapt your thoughts, attitudes and behaviour in times of change, seeing change as an opportunity for creating something new and better rather than resisting change and always trying to hold on to the way things used to be.

Personal Connectedness:

How well do you make significant connections with others by being open and honest about your true feelings? How easy do you find it to be honest with yourself about how you feel and then be prepared to communicate this appropriately to others?

Invitation to Trust:

How much do you invite the trust of others by being consistent, true to your word and reliable? Or are you a person who regularly changes opinion just to be liked by those around you, or maybe you regularly fail to keep promises and say things you don’t really mean?

4. Relationship management:


It is not good to totally trust all people all of the time, as this may lead to disappointment and allow others to take advantage of you. At the same time, the world would be a very lonely and negative place if you are always suspicious and never trust anyone in any situation.

Emotionally intelligent trust lies somewhere in the middle, being carefully trusting of people, and remembering when it may be wise to keep things to yourself until that trust has been earned.

Balanced Outlook:

Do you have a tendency to be pessimistic, focusing on what’s wrong with things and highlighting problems rather than solutions? (‘It’s too hot today’, ‘It’s too cold for me’, ‘I don’t like this flavour’, ‘We should have gone to Spain instead.’)

Do you always assume everything will be fine without taking the necessary action to make sure it is? Do you set unrealistic goals that you regularly fail to achieve?

Having a balanced outlook is about generally keeping a positive attitude about things but also being realistic and objective about the likelihood of things succeeding and turning out the way you want.

Emotional Expression and Control:

You will experience hundreds of different emotions every day. Emotions can change very quickly – one moment you may be feeling relaxed and happy, the next you might be angry because somebody drove into the back of your car.

Do you bottle up your emotions during the day, believing it is not appropriate or right to show how you are feeling? Do you have no control filter at all, always allowing your emotions to burst out into your behaviour, however inappropriate it may be?

Emotional expression and control is about choosing when to allow your emotions to show, feeling free to express your emotions, but also having enough control to select when and how you do this.

Conflict Handling:

Conflict is a fact of life. Every day you will experience conflicts, whether they are small things (‘I want to share a bottle of red wine but my friend wants a bottle of white’) or more important things (‘I want to move to Spain but my husband wants to stay in the UK’)

Do you regularly shy away from conflict, feeling uncomfortable and believing that all conflict is bad? Do you use humour or other avoidance techniques to prevent direct discussion about disagreements?

Do you view conflict as a battle, where there is a winner and a loser and you want to be the winner? Do you often find yourself shouting, interrupting and not listening to others, determined to have things your way?

Both of these extremes (passive and aggressive) are ineffective ways of managing conflict. A healthy balance between these two approaches is being assertive; standing up for your own wants and needs while at the same time being prepared to listen to, understand and compromise with others.


Do you depend too much on others, worried about how successful you would be on your own? Do you link your own identity too much with those around you, finding false security in the fact you have successful friends or are married to a great partner?

Do you believe that the only way to get something done properly is to do it yourself? Do you think working with others holds you back and that you are much better off doing things on your own?

Interdependence is about having healthy attitudes about working with others. While recognizing that you can be successful on your own, it is about truly believing that cooperating with others will lead to something more productive (having a 1+1 = 3 philosophy).

Source: Emotional Intelligence Coaching: Improving Performance for Leaders, Coaches and the Individual (2011) by Steve Neale, Lisa Spencer-Arnell, Liz Wilson

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