Personal development

Improving our Emotional Intelligence

Here's why we need to develop our Emotional Intelligence for an AI future.

As a child of the 60s and 70s, Tomorrow’s World was the programme we never missed. I remember learning about the machines and other exciting inventions of the future that were going to make our personal and work lives so much easier.

That excitement would sometimes be tinged with the worry expressed by the adults in the room about the impact on jobs, a reasonable fear probably repeated since the very onset of the Industrial Revolution.

Artificial Intelligence is now filling that space of wonder about what could be and, in fact, what already is (in some fields), as well as fear about the jobs that will inevitably be affected. Elon Musk’s announcement at the AI Summit in London (Nov 2023) that “there will come a pointwhere no job is needed” may have tapped into that fear.

So where does Emotional Intelligence (EI) come in?

The Microsoft 2023 Work Trend Index Report – Will AI Fix Work says about 300 million jobs in the future will be impacted by artificial intelligence. This will mean a new way of working for most if not all of us – AI and humans being co-pilots.

However, what is interesting reading from the report is that Business Leaders say they are looking to empower people through AI, not replace them. Amongst this, emotional intelligence is one of the top skills of the “new core competencies” these leaders believe will still be vital to be successful in an AI driven world.

What is emotional intelligence?

It is defined as the ability to understand, manage and effectively express our own feelings as well as interact and engage successfully with the emotions of others. It is essential in forming, developing, maintaining and enhancing personal relationships.

The key areas of EI competency are:

  • Intrapersonal – Self-awareness and self-management (how we regulate and control our emotions)
  • Interpersonal – Social awareness and relationship management (relating to the external world)

Humans are emotional creatures, so we can often become overwhelmed by our feelings. The problem sometimes is that the flood of feelings can prevent us from thinking intelligently.

Our brains are wired to react in a certain way in certain situations, however, we can re-wire the circuitry with repeated practice. In the workplace, where effective relational communication is essential, it is really important to be aware of how we are feeling within any given circumstance so that we do not negatively impact another person or situation.

Therefore, if we desire to be more emotionally intelligent the best place to start is to look inwards. We may find that by changing our own behaviour we receive different and hopefully more positive responses from others.

How to access your inner EI:

Dealing with our own negative inner voice

Perhaps no aspect of EI is more important than dealing with our own negative emotions so that they do not overwhelm us and affect our judgment. In order to change how we feel about a situation, we first need to change the way we think about it (the voice in our head). Is this easy? No – however, we do have the power to see the benefits of doing so.

The ability to be/remain positive and proactive in dealing with a “difficult” person

We all encounter challenges with relationships, whether at home or at work, and it is easy to react or be stuck in the belief that the other person is just plain difficult or obstructive. It is easy then to let that person affect us or even ruin our day.

Developing empathy (one of DSC’s Values) is very important. A willingness to try to see the situation from their perspective, putting ourselves in their shoes, even for just a moment, to consider what they might be experiencing or where they are coming from.

When upset or angry with someone, before we say or do something we might regret later, we can stop, take a deep breath (or a couple) and count slowly to 10. In most circumstances, in that time, we will have found a better way to respond or communicate the issue so that we can mitigate the challenging situation instead of making it worse

The ability to manage our stress

Stress is a part of life and we all need some positive pressure in order to get things done.  However, when the pressure increases and becomes too much how do we react? How we handle those stressful situations can make the difference between being assertive versus reactive – composed versus uncontrolled. Finding ways to increase resilience is an important part of self-regulation.

The ability to build resilience

Resilience is our ability to pick ourselves up when things go wrong and suffer disappointments or make mistakes. Again, how we choose to think, feel and act in relation to life’s challenges can often make the difference between feeling hope and optimism versus despair and pessimism.

With every challenging or difficult situation if our mindset is to ask ourselves, “What is the lesson here?”“How can I learn from this experience?”“What is most important now?” then we can gain new and improved perspectives that will help us deal with the situation and move forward.

Learning about and developing Emotional Intelligence will safeguard your working relationships, helping you meet your organisation’s needs and do the best for your cause.

So if the focus on Emotional Intelligence has dropped off your radar or you would like to begin understanding what it could mean for you, your team, your organisation, join us on our An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence courses throughout 2024.