Five Elements for Applying Emotional Intelligence for Career Success

There are five elements for applying emotional intelligence for career success:  Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.  All five of these dimensions can be developed and make life and work a little more enjoyable.


Self-Awareness:  If you are like me, you have taken many assessments.  It is valuable information that can be put to good use.  Self-awareness is the first component of emotional intelligence.  People who have a high degree of self-awareness recognize how their feelings affect them, other people, and their job performance.


Self-awareness extends to a person’s understanding of his or her goals.  People with high self-awareness know where they are headed.  People with high self-awareness are able to speak accurately and openly about their feelings and the impact these emotions have on their work.  Self-aware people know, and are comfortable talking about their limitations and strengths, and they often demonstrate comfort with receiving constructive criticism.


Self-aware people can also be recognized by their self-confidence.  They have a realistic understanding of their capabilities and are less likely to set themselves up for failure.  They also know when to ask for help.  People who possess self-awareness often have a self-deprecating sense of humor; which is socially comfortable for all.  People with a strong sense of self-awareness have a deep understanding of their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives.  People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful.  Rather, they are honest with themselves and with others.


Self-Regulation:  Self-regulation is that little voice inside.  It is the component of emotional intelligence that frees us from being a victim of our feelings.  People that possess emotional intelligence feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone else does, but they find ways to control and channel those feelings in useful ways.


Self-regulation enhances integrity, which not only good for the person, but also good for their profession.  Many of the bad things that happen in organizations are a function of impulsive behavior, such as exaggerating profits, padding expense accounts, or abusing power.  The signs of emotional self-regulation include the patience for reflection and thoughtfulness, comfort with ambiguity and change, and an ability to say no to impulsive urges.


People who are in control of their feelings and impulses are reasonable and are able to create an environment of trust and fairness.  In such an environment, politics and infighting are sharply reduced and productivity is high.  Biological impulses drive our emotions.  People who have mastered their emotions are able to roll with the punches and the changes.  People that possess emotional intelligence are able to suspend judgment, seek information, and listen to coworkers as they explain new ideas and initiatives.


Motivation:  People with motivation are driven to achieve.  They are motivated by a deep desire to achieve, simply for the sake of achievement.  They have a passion for the work itself.  They seek creative challenges, like to learn, and take great pride in a job well done.


People with achievement motivation display interest and energy to do things better.  They are rarely satisfied with the status quo.  They ask questions about why things are done the way they are.  They are eager to explore new approaches to their work.  Motivated people like to keep score.  They like to track their own progress as well as their teams and their organizations.


People with high motivation remain optimistic even when things aren’t going their way.  Self-regulation combines with achievement motivation, to overcome the frustration and depression that come after a setback or failure.  People with high levels of achievement motivation tend to be committed to their organizations.  When people love their jobs for the work itself, they often feel committed to the organizations that make that professional opportunity possible.  Committed employees are likely to stay with an organization, even when pursued by headhunters or competitors.


Empathy:  Empathy means thoughtfully considering others’ feelings, along with other factors, in the process of making intelligent decisions.  Empathetic people listen and learn what coworkers are feeling and acknowledge their fears and frustrations.  Team members must be able to sense and understand the viewpoints of everyone around the table.  It is important to create a supportive environment where team members can speak openly and raise concerns.  Empathy can be heightened collaboration.


Globalization is another reason to demonstrate empathy.  People that lead with empathy are alert to what is said, and what is not said, and they notice minor changes in nonverbal messages.  People who have empathy have a deep understanding of both the existence and the importance of cultural and ethnic differences.


Empathy plays a key role in the retention of talent.  Empathy plays a critical role in attracting, developing, and keeping good people.  When good people leave they take the organization’s knowledge with them.  Empathy, combined with coaching and mentoring, provides better performance, increased job satisfaction, and decreased turnover.


Social Skill:  Social skill is more than having a few Facebook friends.  Social skill is the outcome of the other dimensions of emotional intelligence.  Social skill is friendliness with a purpose; moving people in the desired direction, whether that’s agreement on a new strategy or enthusiasm about a new product.  Socially skilled people have many acquaintances, and they have developed a talent for building rapport and finding common ground.  They are excellent collaborators and they are driven to find a solution.


Socially skilled people are adept at managing teams.  They are upbeat and energetic.  They know when to make an emotional appeal and when to make a logical appeal.  Socially skilled people build relationships with people throughout the organization because they know they may need help someday, from people they are just getting to know today.  They have a network in place when the time for action comes.


Career success is based upon getting work done through people and social skill makes that possible.  Empathy and motivation are useless if a person cannot communicate effectively with their coworkers.  Social skill allows people to put their emotional intelligence to work.


Kit Welchlin, M.A., CSP, is a professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at