Emotional Intelligence: Empathy and Social Skills

In my previous post I discussed three aspects of emotional intelligence (EI): Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, and Motivation.  To complete the discussion on EI, this post will discuss the final two aspects: Empathy and Social Skills.


Empathy

Empathy refers to the ability to understand and share the feelings of others (Swink, 2013).  Essentially, the ability to put ourselves in the other person's shoes.  The foundation of EI, empathy allows us to connect with other people, build trust, and strengthen our relationships, all of which are integral parts of our lives.  Further, empathy is an essential leadership characteristic; Without it, we can experience conflict and misunderstanding.  The journal you created during your self-awareness development will identify situations, events, or interactions in which you display little or no empathy.  Additionally, practicing empathetic listening, and paying attention to your voice tone are two ways to develop your empathetic skills.  Examine the voice tones of individuals who are known as empathetic leaders and practice sentences such as "that would frustrate me too" or "if I were in your position, I would feel the same way."  Ask someone to role play and give you feedback. Practice, practice, practice!


Social Skills

Social skills, in the context of EI,  refer to competencies needed to effectively manage and influence the emotions of others (Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, 2017).  Competencies include the ability to manage relationships and networks, establish rapport, and find common ground (Great Leaders, n.d.)..  How do you do you develop these skills? First, learn conflict management, which is vital to your effectiveness as a leader.  Conflict is inevitable; It is not if it will arise, but when.  When conflict arises you must acknowledge it, communicate openly, actively listen, review options, and develop an agreement that is a win-win for everyone.  Second, improve your communication skills by practicing empathetic listening, monitor body language, think before speaking, remain positive, practice being calm, and focus on the conversation.  Give the person in front of you your undivided attention.  Finally, encourage and praise others.  As a leader, when you encourage and praise team members their morale, loyalty, and sense of value are positively influenced (Emotional Intelligence in Leadership, 2017).


To be an effective leader, you must be aware of your emotions and actions and the effects they have on others.  Developing your emotional intelligence by implementing the strategies discussed in posts two through four, will allow you to manage your relationships, become a better communicator, and a more effective leader.


Thank you for reading! I look forward to your questions and comments,

Sandra


References

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership. (2017). MindTools. Retrieved from

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_45.htm

Great leaders need great social skills! (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://bookboonglobal.com/great-leaders-need-great-social-skills-do-you-have-what-it- takes/

Swink, D. F. (2013, March 7). I don't feel your pain: Overcoming roadblocks to empathy. [Blog]

Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/threat-management/201303/i- dont-feel-

your-pain-overcoming-roadblocks-empathy


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