Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to acknowledge ones and others’ emotions, then leverage emotional information to adapt thinking and behavior to the environment and to achieve one’s goal.

For an overview on Emotional Intelligence and a review of self-mastery skills, see my first post on the topic. Here, we will review the Social Skills from Emotional Intelligence. In other words, the emotional competences to handle relationships.

Empathy, the fourth competence of Emotional Intelligence

Empathy, the fourth competence of Emotional Intelligence as described by Daniel Goleman, structures overs 5 skills: Understanding others, Service orientation, Developing others, Leveraging diversity and Political awareness.

Empathy is the awareness of others’ feelings and needs. To put it differently, it is our social radar. Surely, the prerequisite for empathy is self-awareness. Indeed, before identifying and understanding others’ feelings, we need to identify and understand feeling in general, starting with our own feelings.

Empathy is an automatic response to our environment. Actually, we tend to unconsciously mimicry the others’ feelings. This comes from the most primitive parts of the brain and the objective is to enforce survival. For instance, when people that surround us experience fear, then we will feel fear too, so we will be ready to manage the threat even if we have seen it yet.

But how well we use Empathy depends on our will to do so and how much we practice it.

Understanding others: detect and decrypt others’ feelings and needs and show compassion

The root of this principle is listening. Indeed, all start with true listening. In other words, active listening. As I am used to define it, listen to understand, not just to answer:

  • Grant full attention.
  • Suspend judgement.
  • Reflect the other person infra-communication, but also emotions.
  • Dig the topic, asking open questions to explore, specific questions to clarify. Then summarizing to make sure that we have understood properly.

Truly, without listening, there is no step further to understand the others. Actually, people will close themselves when they face a poor listener.

The listener especially if quite sensitive should protect himself or herself. To illustrate, we may experience empathy distress when someone we care about is going through a lot of pain and we become as a result deeply upset. So, there is a need for self-regulation to calm our own sympathetic distress.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Be an active listener.
  • Be attentive to emotional signals.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity and understand others’ feelings and needs.
  • Support others based on the understanding of their feelings and needs.

Service orientation: identifying, even anticipating needs, and meeting them

Daniel Goleman presents this practice as sense of service to client. In truth, service orientation is more that just for client, as it can happen internally in the organization. So, the same as we care about serving clients, we watch about others and how to support them. All the more so, their tasks may contribute to the group’s or organization’s goal.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Understand needs and match them to services or products.
  • Look how to increase customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Offer appropriate assistance demonstrating good mood and authentic desire to help.
  • Get into the shoes of the customers to advise and serve them better.

Developing others: detecting needs of development for the others and help them to grow their skills

This practice is about helping the others to grow. It starts with feedback for the coworkers or the collaborators to identify their areas for improvement. Then, it continues with mentoring and coaching.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Acknowledge and reward people’s strengths and achievements.
  • Propose constructive feedback to support others’ growth.
  • Propose and deliver regular mentoring. Offer opportunities to foster others’ skills.

Leveraging diversity: generating opportunities for people with different profiles to collaborate

Having a different product or service on a market is a competitive advantage. Without a doubt, different people bring different ideas. So, when an organization properly values but also properly leverages diversity, it makes the difference. But diversity is also a challenge. Indeed, there is still a need for a given group to have a minimum commonalities to be able to work together and deliver a consistency.

This practice covers at the same time the ability to include people with different profiles and to build connections with them and between them.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Connect well with people having different profiles and backgrounds.
  • Understand diverse point of views, and culture coming from different backgrounds, social groups or countries.
  • Consider diversity as an opportunity.
  • Create an environment for diversity to be fertile.
  • Challenge bias and intolerance.

Political awareness: reading a group’s emotions and relationships of power

This competence starts with being able to empathizing at the organizational level. In other words, being able to grasp the emotional climate and culture of an organization. Then, the competence continues with being able to see the real and informal organization where actual power stands with alliances and rivalries.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Read key power relationships.
  • Detect crucial social networks.
  • Understand what shapes thinking and acting of clients, customers, or competitors.
  • See through official organization to perceive the informal network.

Social Skills, the fifth competence of Emotional Intelligence

Social Skills, the fifth competence of Emotional Intelligence as described by Daniel Goleman, structures overs 7 skills: Communication, Influence, Collaboration & Cooperation, Conflict management, Leadership, Change catalyst, and at last, Building bonds. Note that Team building capacity skill has been merged in this post with Collaboration and Cooperation skill.

As we have seen above in the introduction to empathy, we influence each others with emotions that are a primitive way of communication, for instance to alert on a threat. Furthermore, influence with emotions can be with negative but also positive emotions. These emotions come in various level, most of the time too subtle to notice.

Social skills are the emotional intelligence skills to properly manage one’s and others’ emotions, to connect, interact and work with the others. If empathy is outward driven to the others, social skills are inward driven and focus on how to interact with and leverage the others to reach our goals.

When we master social skills, we choose emotions we show and those we hide, like some sort of theater. To illustrate, in our backstage, we feel our emotions, and on our front stage, we choose the emotions we want to reveal.

Smile is a good example. For instance, we can choose to smile even if we are worried. But this smile will turn our coworkers in a positive state. Indeed, smile is the most contagious emotional signal of all. As a result, people cannot resist and smile in return. Clearly, collaboration will be easier and we may even feel a little bit better with all those smiles we will get in return. In addition, we will trigger and get back positive energy.

Communication: listening actively and delivering a clear and appealing message

Communication is key to connect to the others and build the best of our collaboration with them. Surely, control of the mood is essential. Indeed, we can be a good communicator, be clear in what we say, with the others ready to listen, only if we stay calm and positive. Then, this may require buffering with our real emotional state if different.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Identify emotional cues and adapt message accordingly.
  • Listen actively to understand, not just to answer, and build common understanding.
  • Promote open communication and welcome all information sharing, including bad news.

Influence: smoothly guiding the others toward a direction that is valuable also for them (if not, this is manipulation)

Prerequisite of influence is, of course, the capacity to read emotional cues. To begin with, this principle starts with building a bond or highlighting a commonality with our audience. Then, the second step is to integrate the emotional drivers to make people move. Especially, when logical arguments have failed. To illustrate, some influence tactics include: legitimizing with the authority source of the request, socializing, appealing to values or exchanging or building an alliance.

This area of competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Inspire sympathy and trust to the others.
  • Master influence strategies and tactics to build adhesion.
  • Leverage all audience’s motivation drivers to make them move in the right direction.

Collaboration and cooperation: working with others to a common goal

Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are not just for individuals, but scale to team and even organization levels. Indeed, when a team operates at its best, individual IQ and EQ does not just simply add, they multiply. As a result, outcomes are far beyond what anyone could have imagined.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Balance between delivering tasks and preserving relationships.
  • Collaborate sharing information, resources and efforts.
  • Promote a friendly and cooperative climate.
  • Identify and mature new opportunities for collaboration.

And when collaboration is on the long term:

  • Propose a frame for collaboration to enforce respect and cooperation.
  • Build a common identity and a shared vision to support motivation and commitment.
  • Preserve the group from external challenges and promote it outside.

Note that we have merged what Daniel Goleman calls Team (building) capabilities in this collaboration and cooperation competence.

Conflict management: resolving disagreements and preventing conflicts

This practice requires as prerequisite to master our emotions in stressful conditions and to read the emotions of the others. Then, it is about facilitating smooth debate, preventing conflicts and when they happen, working to de-escalate them and support a win-win solution.

This area of competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Handle difficult people and situations with diplomacy.
  • Encourage debates and open discussions.
  • Facilitate win-win solutions.
  • Identify and defuse potential conflicts by supporting disagreement resolution.

Leadership: inspiring and guiding people

Leadership is about generating internal motivation that can make a whole group mobilize toward the same objective. Emotions are a source of charisma for the leader: be able to feel strong emotions and express them with force and impact.

This area of competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Build motivation through an appealing vision.
  • Step forward to lead when required.
  • Support and develop the others without micromanaging them.
  • Lead by example.

Change catalyst: initiating and managing change

Today, change is everywhere, it never stops and its rhythm accelerates. Therefore, being able to manage change is a key competence.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Identify and build awareness around the need for change.
  • Build the frame to channel the change, identify and manage actions to support the change.
  • Role-model the change one’s wants to happen.

Building bonds: cultivating useful relationships

As collaboration within a team multiply the efficiency, collaboration at the level of a network does the same for each person involved. Surely, each member of a network is an immediately available extension of knowledge, expertise and potentially more.

This competence of Emotional Intelligence covers the following:

  • Cultivate and maintain living and informal networks.
  • Seek and grow relationships that are mutually beneficial.
  • Make and maintain personal friendships among coworkers.


What’s next? Learn more about Emotional Intelligence, Agile Leadership and discover Coaching

Do you want to learn more about Emotional Intelligence? Here are some valuable references

Introduction of concepts:

The books about Emotional Intelligence from Daniel Goleman, one of the best expert on the topic:

A good post about tests and assessments to evaluate Emotional Intelligence.

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