Monday, 25 April 2011

So, you want to be emotionally intelligent?

You could spend fairly sizeable chunks of your money in testing your quotient of emotional intelligence.  Or, you could take an on-line test for free which will give you some idea of where you stand in the EI charts but this type of ‘free’ test is usually nothing other than an enticement to buy something else. 

So, how can the average Joe (or Josephine) undertake a fairly reliable though admittedly unscientific, test in order to gauge where they’re at?

Simple!  Follow the instructions below:

Find a space where you can think without interruption or distraction.  Chose a place where you won’t be disturbed for about 20-minutes.  Have a pen and paper close by and relax.  Clear your mind of all thoughts.

Now...  Chose one person with whom you are familiar with on a personal basis.  This person must be someone with whom you’ve either worked with, worked for, or have been taught by etc.  It could even be a parent if you’re really stuck.  However, above all things, this person must have left an indelible positive impression on you by the way that they’ve conducted themselves in the past.  Think of the fine examples they’ve set.  How they’ve looked after people and how they’ve acted as a great role model to you.  Keep this person in your mind for at least 5-minutes or so.  Run through your memory bank of times when they really stood out.  When they really impressed you to the point when you thought “Wow!”  “I wish I was like that.” 

When you’re ready, write down adjectives you would use to describe this person to someone who had never met them.  Single words you’d use to describe their greatness.  Make a list of about 5 to 8 words.  When you've finished, set the paper aside and prepare to relax again.

This time, with your mind cleared, start to think of a person who has left the worst possible impression on you from a role-model perspective.  The anti-role-model if you will.  As before, think of the times that this person has made you angry, disappointed, frustrated, maybe even close to tears (or worse).   

When you’re ready, grab your pen and paper and start to compile your list of adjectives that you’d use to describe this person to a third-party.  Go for about 5 to 8 words, same as the last time.  When you’ve finished, put the pen down and set the paper aside. 

Now, just spend a few moments thinking about the differences in the two people you’ve thought about.  You’ll have fond memories and feelings towards the positive role model and will undoubtedly be feeling more than a little bitter about the negative person that you’ve forced yourself to remember.  It’s important right now to try not to dwell on the negative person.  After all, this person was an idiot.  And you don’t need to be wasting your time and energy on idiots.  You won’t get the time back and you’ll just feel depressed.
Now, look at the two lists that you’ve written.  Chances are the words you’ve chosen are opposites of each other (or very similar to opposites).  As you look at them again I’m sure you’ll begin to think of more words to write but there’s really no need.  You’re work here is almost done!

It’s safe to say that all of the positive adjectives, attributes, labels – call them what you will – are emotionally intelligent traits and characteristics. 

Your next task is to rearrange the positive adjectives that you’ve compiled into an order of which holds the most importance to you.   So, for example, if you’ve written ‘honest’, ‘friendly’ and ‘empathetic’ you need to re-write your list starting with the attribute that holds the most value to you at the top and work your way down.  Once you’ve completed this part of the exercise, you now need to ask yourself in all honesty, if you possess any of these attributes. 

Now, grade each of the attributes (out of 5 – with 5 being the highest) how ‘honest’, ‘friendly’ or ‘empathetic’ you really are.  So, you may score your level of honesty as a 5 (well done!); you may have awarded yourself a 3 for empathy (now you know there’s room for development to the power of 2) and so on.  The idea of course, is to identify the attributes and values that you share with your positive role-model and see where the room for development lays.  Once you’ve finished marking your list you must now make a solemn pledge to yourself that you will make conscious effort to reach a grade 5 in all of the attributes – starting with the ones at the top of the list as those are the ones that you’ve decided hold the most value.

And that’s it!  I did say it was simple didn’t I?

Not only have you produced your list of emotionally intelligent attributes, you’ve also set yourself a positive challenge to develop yourself in these areas.  Furthermore, you’ve also identified a person from your life that has influenced you and undoubtedly has influenced others because they were or are highly emotionally intelligent.  I know it sounds a little corny but next time you’re in a dilemma about how to behave or react to an idiot; ask yourself ‘What would my positive role-model do in this situation?’

Oh!  And about the list of negatives from that idiot you’ve resurfaced form your past? (or maybe present!)  Well, here’s what you do.  You look at the adjectives on that list and swear to yourself that you’ll always make a conscious effort never to act like that or become a replica of your anti-role model.  And once you’ve read it and made your promise to yourself – rip it up and throw it away.  You don’t need it.  After all, it’s nothing more than an idiot’s handbook.  And you my friend, are no idiot!

Wishing you all the very best, in everything that you do.


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