How the 4 core skills of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) impact IT professionals

In 2018 it is no longer feasible for IT professionals to be the introvert who sits in the corner coding. There are many skills needed to be successful in IT. Second only to sales is emotional intelligence (EQ).

According to Andrew Coleman, from A Dictionary of Psychology: Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional quotient (EQ) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ)[1], is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).

Emotional intelligence has widely been divided into 4 core skills:


Self Awareness

Let’s first discuss how self awareness is important to the IT professional. Ask yourself how does knowing and understanding my emotions help me do my job as an IT professional. In many IT roles people are coming for help. Key emotions for us be aware of in our selves are empathy and kindness. Unfortunately IT roles are not set up to be like server roles at Dick’s Last Resort. Wouldn’t it be fun if we were allowed to act annoyed and in a hurry whenever a customer came to us with a request. It would also be an awesome laugh if we could make an insulting hat for everyone we served as well. In our IT world it doesn’t matter if this is the 20th time today we had to show someone how to turn off pop ups for that new site the CEO wants everyone to visit. It doesn’t matter that we have 40 other tickets waiting for us to get finished up by the end of the day. The person who has work for us needs to be shown empathy and kindness. We also need to be self aware enough to catch ourselves when we are not.

Self Management

Self management then uses that self-awareness to help in knowing when we need to change ourselves, ask for help, or take a step away. If we are aware of our emotions getting in the way of our work we then need to take steps to correct that.  One way is to change how we approach our health. Health habits can have a huge effect on our emotions. Stopping caffeine, getting more exercise, getting enough sleep, are all items we can change that can have a huge effect on our emotions. Another hindrance in managing our emotions can be pride. When we are too prideful to ask for help it can impact our emotions in other ways. Lastly we need to step away. Take the vacation, take the day off, shut off technology for the weekend, these are all items that can help us manage our emotions.

Social Awareness

Now that we have looked at ourselves it is time to look at others. Social awareness is the first step in that process. Identifying and understanding someones emotions is key to being able to provide service as an IT professional. Finding angry, rude and unpleasant people is easy. However being able to spot people who are shy, afraid, introverted, or detached is very important as well. Knowing how to identify another persons emotion’s gives us our only chance of using that to build relationship awareness. One key thing to understand however is not to assume your understanding of someone emotions. We are always looking at their emotions through our own filters. Sometimes those filters can blind us. There is nothing wrong with making a first impression, however it is key to back that up with a genuine capability to get to know that person better so you can understand their true emotions.

Relationship Management

The last piece we will discuss is relationship management. Now that we are aware of our emotions, we can manage our emotions and we are aware of the emotions of others; we can take the next step and discuss how we use all of that data to manage our relationships. By using all these tools we can make better decisions as IT professionals. Things like not rolling out software around times when emotions are high with our colleagues. We would not roll out finance software after the end of the year or quarter since those are high stress times for finance teams. It also does not make sense for us to try to ask for a higher level of investment when we just had a really bad roll out of one of our other software packages. We need to build back trust first. Finally meeting anger and rudeness with more anger and rudeness rarely works. Meeting it with calm and confidence is the best way. It feels really awesome when you can take an angry person and turn them into a satisfied customer.

The best news of all is that unlike IQ, EQ can be learned. You can learn to identify and manage emotions with a little practice every week. Like everything else however it does not come overnight. In the book Outliers , author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. As IT professionals we don’t need to be masters we just need to be better. An hour a week is all it would take to improve our EQ.

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