Earlier this week I read an article in FastCompany. A quick Google search indicates the magazine has a readership of more than 3 million but don’t quote me on that. The point is… it draws a sizable audience.
In the article 10 In-Demand Soft Skills to Supercharge Your Career the author includes Emotional Intelligence as one of the skills. Hurray! Well sort of…
Authors and thought leaders are continuing to highlight emotional intelligence as a topic worthy of attention, discussion, and further exploration! That’s great!
But here’s the thing… A lot of these well-intended contributors are misinformed about emotions. They have some of their information right, but there’s often a sprinkle of misinformation mixed in as well.
You might say… big deal. Who cares about a little sprinkle of misinformation? It can’t be that big of a deal… I disagree. I think slight changes to the way we talk about emotions and approach emotional intelligence can make a big difference.
Let’s look at a few specifics from the article.
The section in the article that highlights Emotional Intelligence as a soft skill to supercharge your career, the author writes:
“Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to perceive, evaluate, and control their emotions while being aware of other people’s emotions. We also refer to a person’s emotional intelligence as their EQ (emotional quotient). A high-EQ person thinks before they speak and act. This person also practices self-reflection and understands their feelings. They also don’t make decisions while angry. When they’re anxious, they pause and take a step back. They work to regulate their emotions, shift gears when needed, and don’t let their feelings interfere with producing great work.”
It reads nicely and is easy to digest. The average individual who is misinformed about emotions probably wouldn’t bat an eye or take exception to any of the content.
However, the individual who is informed about emotions would likely take exception to three main points. Let’s take a closer look.
Control their Emotions
The section begins with “Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to perceive, evaluate, and control their emotions while being aware of other people’s emotions.”
Sounds good but… If you compare this to the definition of emotional intelligence taken from my Empowered by Emotions program which is also referenced in What is Emotional Intelligence?, you’ll see some slight (but significant) differences. I define emotional intelligence as:
Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize, pay attention to, understand, and effectively engage with emotions in a manner that helps you achieve your preferred outcomes.The goal is not to control emotions. It may feel like a matter of semantics or nitpicking over inconsequential details, but again, I disagree. “Controlling emotions” puts the focus on the wrong area. Emotions are a part of who we are. Emotions are a form of intelligence.
Instead of trying to control emotions, the goal is to engage with emotions. Emotional intelligence is about learning how to work with your emotions rather than working against them. What you want to control is your response to an active emotion. In other words, the action you take. Now that’s putting the focus where it belongs!