How do you assess your emotional intelligence?

Irvine Nugent, Ph.D. –Behavioral Analysis Expert
Irvine Nugent, Ph.D. –Behavioral Analysis Expert

By Irvine Nugent

By Irvine Nugent

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We know that emotional intelligence is incredibly important. We know that leaders with higher emotional intelligence create workspaces that are more positive, that people feel attached to. We know that in these circumstances the turnover is lower and that there is a greater sense of worth among employees. The question then comes, how do you assess emotional intelligence? How do you measure it? In this article I want to do something a little bit different. I want to take you through an exercise of assessing your emotional intelligence and trying to pinpoint the areas that you might want to focus on so that you can increase that element of emotional intelligence.

We know that emotional intelligence is important, but also critically important is an accurate assessment of that emotional intelligence. How do you measure emotional intelligence? Well, here we’re going to look at the two main ways of doing that, and then we’re going to go through an exercise that can really help you pinpoint how your good emotional intelligence is and perhaps find areas that you can improve on.

When it comes to measuring emotional intelligence, if you group all the different assessments, really there are two different approaches in how you might measure this thing. First of all, let me address that issue, because emotional intelligence is not just one concept. Rather, it’s a number of different concepts. It’s a number of different elements that have come together that we choose to call emotional intelligence, and that makes measuring it a little bit difficult. Regardless, there are two main ways of measuring it.

Two approaches to assessing Emotional Intelligence

Ability Method

The first is what we call an ability method, and that is – we choose to measure a person’s ability to use certain skills that are important for emotional intelligence. How is your skill in reading people’s faces, for example. And what happens is that we measure that skill set against a panel of experts who have come to say ‘this is correct’ and then a score is given. One of the most popular assessments for emotional intelligence is the MSCEIT, and that is based on an ability model.

Trait Method

The second way of measuring emotional intelligence is the trait method, and this really depends on self-report, self-awareness and self-reflection questions. Of course, the problem here is that it depends on good self-awareness, and we know that sometimes people’s awareness of their emotional intelligence is not the best.

I think the problem that both of these have is that at the moment there is no one good method for measuring emotional intelligence. Indeed, many people think that we have to measure multiple things to really get a true picture of a person’s emotional intelligence. I do many different assessments with the people that I work with. My favorite assessment at the moment is ‘EQ in Action’. What I like about that is that it’s a series of videos based in the workplace, and it asks us to respond to an emotional situation in the moment that induces stress to measure our emotional intelligence.

20 questions to help you focus on the different components of emotional intelligence

Recognizing that there’s no one perfect model, it is really important for us to be more self-reflective on the different areas of emotional intelligence. And so in the next part of the article I want to take you through 20 questions that really help you focus on the different components of emotional intelligence, and maybe help you recognize that perhaps one of those components needs your attention and work.

Each of these questions are going to touch upon a certain component of emotional intelligence. Now there are four components we’re especially interested in. The first is self-awareness – how aware am I of emotions that I’m feeling in the moment, and can I name them? Where are my triggers? The second is self-management – do I have go-to techniques to regulate my emotions in the moment? The third is social awareness – how aware am I of all the emotional life of other people around me? Then finally, relationship management – How am I able to manage the different relations?

So what we’re going to do is go through each question and point to the area of emotional intelligence that that question’s from, and perhaps you might want to write down the question or just to read this section again and give yourself some time to reflect upon each one, and perhaps score yourself on a scale of zero to five. Zero meaning needs a lot of work, and five meaning that I think I am highly skilled in this attribute. So let’s begin:

Can recognize my emotions as I experience them?

Now what’s great about this question is it’s to do with self-awareness. How aware am I that as emotions arise within me, I recognize them and then I’m able to name them?

Do people tell me I’m an excellent listener?

You know, listening skill is an incredible combination of a few of the different emotional skills – it takes self-awareness, self-management, relationship. How good a listener am I?

Do I avoid conflict and negotiations?

Each of us has a conflict story. How do I approach conflict? Do I avoid it, or do I embrace it?

Do I set long-term goals and review my progress regularly?

You know, people with really excellent emotional intelligence are able to self-motivate themselves, set goals, and check those goals. Where are you in that question?

Do I usually recognize when I’m stressed?

Again, we’re back to this self-awareness. Do I know how stress shows up in my body, and I able to feel the signs – both the physiological signs and also the trigger signs that I’ve been stressed.

Do I take fresh perspectives and risks in my thinking?

How able am I to put myself forward? How able am I to take risk?

Do I see setbacks as due to manageable circumstances rather than a personal flaw?

Again, this is getting to the ability to be more resilient. The ability to come back from setback, the ability to put oneself forward. Emotionally intelligent people are able to recover quickly and to put themselves out.

Do I find it difficult to read the emotional cues of others?

This gets into social awareness. Everyone gives off facial signals, facial expressions, and body language around the emotions that they’re feeling. How able am I to read those emotional cues from others?

Do I know how to calm myself down when I feel anxious or upset?

Here we’re moving to self-management. When I am anxious or upset, do I have go-to tools that I can use that quickly help me get over the triggering event and to calm down?

Do I find it hard to focus on something over the long-term?

What’s important here is the ability to motivate ourselves, to move towards a self-directed goal and to have check-ins on how we’re doing as we approach that goal number.

Do I find it easy to build rapport with others?

Here we move into that relationship management. How easy is it for me to build rapport? How easy is it for me to develop relationships with others? Because rapport building is one of the elements of excellent emotional intelligence.

Can I consciously alter my frame of mind or mood?

This goes back into self-awareness and self-management. When I find myself in a certain emotion or mood, how can I alter that? Can I reframe it? Can I move myself easily or do I find myself stuck?

Can I easily see things from another person’s point of view?

This goes to empathy. Can I put on the other person’s shoes? Can I see where they’re coming from? Is it easy for me to see differing points of view?

Do I readily fly off the handle at other people?

This goes to self-management. You know, there are times when all of us get angry, but does anger control us? Do we find ourselves having regrettable episodes of behaviors we would rather not have, or are we able to manage that anger and be more productive in that anger?

Am I able to motivate myself to do difficult tasks?

You know, all of us have difficult tasks, but it’s this ability to motivate ourselves to accomplish those tasks and to not put them off. Motivation, as well, is one of the key components of emotional intelligence.

Do I remain optimistic even when things are not going my way?

Do I maintain a good sense of humor?

You know, at times with all the tension, at times with all the stress, humor can be a way of adding positivity when there is a lot of tension in the workplace. It’s also a sign of great emotional intelligence – a leader who can inject just the right amount of humor at the right time.

Can I listen to others without feeling the need to interrupt?

Listening requires curiosity. Listening requires self-awareness and self-management. Can I listen to another point of view without feeling the need to interrupt, knowing that I will get my chance to respond when needed?

Do I like to ask questions to find out what’s important to other people?

This goes to the relationship management. People with high emotional intelligence are curious about other people. They’re able to ask great questions, which uncover and bring to the surface facets of another person and help the bonding with that other person.

Can I tell if someone is upset or annoyed with me?

This goes to that third dimension of reading other people. Am I able to read the emotions in their faces when someone perhaps is upset or angry with me?

So there’s 20 questions that can help us hone in on different elements of emotional intelligence. And as you go through that list, if you’ve scored yourself three or below in any one of those, I think it’s an opportunity for you to hone in in that area of emotional intelligence and to begin to develop some exercises that will help you build that element and grow and develop your emotional intelligence.

So in this video, I’ve tried to cover how presently we’re assessing emotional intelligence. I think one thing has come to the surface is that there is no perfect assessment, but hopefully also the 20 questions that I brought you through, those 20 reflective questions are food for thought, helping you reflect on where you are in your emotional intelligence journey and what areas you might have to work on. If this is something of importance to you, I really want you to read the next article, which covers the five components of emotional intelligence. And when you read that article, what I’d like you to do is choose one of those five components and focus on that component and build it. Because emotional intelligence is wonderful. It’s something that we can grow and develop. And one of the ways I think it’s best to grow and develop is to choose one particular component and focus on that with targeted exercises that help us strengthen that particular element of emotional intelligence.

Irvine Nugent, Ph.D. –Behavioral Analysis Expert

Irvine possesses fifteen-plus years in senior leadership roles in various organizations. Dr. Nugent is an approved Paul Ekman International Trainer and offers a wide range of workshops in the areas of emotional intelligence, nonverbal communication, executive presence and lie detection which are based on the practical application of scientific research.
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