How to leverage the power of Emotional Intelligence

Written by Martin Lucas

Emotional Intelligence is one of two key human intelligences. It has a much more popular rival in IQ which is words, language, knowledge, the ability to learn a set way of doing things and then deliver that. IQ is more easily understood because as humans, we can attach a clear understanding to it and we humans like things to be easy and clear, so IQ wins. It’s also fair to say the 20th century was built around an IQ model and if you want a breakdown predicting the future you can read this.

For the 21st century, we are seeing breakthrough after breakthrough when it comes to the sciences of how we think, how we act and how we feel. All of that is our emotional intelligence. It’s not new, it’s just easier to understand now and that is my purpose here, to help you understand and leverage Emotional Intelligence.

Some examples from your day to day life:

  1. Rapid Cognition

As a definition is it important to understand that how you are treated and how you react to situations is all your Emotional Intelligence. But it is not just about how you feel, your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is also recognising how others feel. You know when you can just tell something is bothering someone? Their eyes, their movement, their words, their tone, their judgement, their behaviours.

This is your instinct at play, you can process incredible amounts of information extremely quickly. This is known as rapid cognition and our ability to judge situations with our senses and then to act or not is what allows us to live each day. Our Unconscious mind is the engine driving this. If we didn’t have this Unconscious processor we would not be able to move, we would be labelling everything in front of our eyes, thinking about it everything and overloading ourselves. It would be too much information to consciously process, as that is thinking too much.

Imagine if you had to literally think about all your eyes see, you’d implode! But we don’t. Phew, thanks to our Unconscious mind! You can read much more about rapid cognition in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, it’s really enjoyable to understand the power you have under your control and Gladwell is a master of this type of cognitive thought. Once you accept what EQ is, you can start to see that it is much more crucial than IQ. It is accountable for your ability to maintain relationships, how you treat others, how you behave,  what your focus is, what your belief system is and how you live your life. It is what makes you, YOU and in turn how you react to others, how you see them and how you care about them.

  1. Variable Emotions

Now that I have you thinking about yourself and your feelings, it is important to understand the irrational part of how we think. As our emotions have lots of variables, it is not simply about how you feel about say an object, a person or a job, it can change based on variables:

The time of day

Your current mood

How you have been treated

That moment of self doubt

How do you feel

Day of the week

Money in the bank or not

Success and failure

Self Judgement

Internal peace

Self awareness

Happiness and sadness

Some of us are morning people or not (I am totally not a fan of mornings), some of us love ourselves, some of us hate ourselves, some of us feel at peace - apart from Monday mornings - some of us are happy all the time, some of us dislike people who are happy all the time. Some, some, some, reread the list above, the variables are massive and it’s all about your environment, your perception, your experiences and above all else, what other factors we are dealing with. The other factors bring lots of different behaviours and we can react differently to exactly the same situation depending on what else is happening in our lives.

We are complex creatures! That is our EQ at play. How you want to be treated, how you learn, the pace you think, your actions, your behaviours, your habits, it's personal because it is personal to you, your are unique, we all are.

  1. Cultural Understanding

Now let’s get practical. How you were raised, where you were raised and by whom can have a huge range of different challenges when it comes to communication.

Here is a really fun example with a test for you:


Isn’t that interesting? The reason I love that is because communication is an art form. It is not based on what you say or what you feel, it is actually about thinking consciously of the person, group or audience you are addressing. Everyone will interpret what you say based on who they are. It’s a key thing we teach kids isn’t it? To think before you act. Sometimes we need to remember the advice we tell children needs to be remembered for us as adults so we can deal with any bad habits we have when it comes to communicating.

  1. Views & Queues

Everyone has an opinion but do you always share it?

Do you know someone who thinks variations of ‘oh it’s ok they will have heard this idea, they are smarter than me’?

I have coached a lot of salespeople, founders and leaders and this point of view is actually very common no matter how senior that person is. We all have self doubt creeping around in our heads. Fraud syndrome is very common in a work context. One thing it creates is a loss of our identity. We move unconsciously from speaking our minds and sharing ideas to being more subservient and just listening and adapting ourselves to what we are told.

You can then add to this the challenge of rejecting your instinct. This comes in many shapes and sizes and of course depends on what your instinct is best at. For me, it’s the mass change of people and their behaviours and despite predicting Blackberry would fail to evolve, that video conferencing would move from in the room to on laptops as the main user need and that Woolworths would go to the wall, it was literally pub chat or I simply told no one. I spent my 20’s doing this, not trusting my instinct and doing well in my career but not using my natural passion. It took me until I started my own companies to start exploring and trusting my instincts. Are you similar?

There is a good way to test your type of instinct with some questions:

Do you notice when someone does something differently than normal at work?

Do you say what’s wrong when you see a friend's face?

Do you look at adverts wondering what they were trying to communicate?

Do you read the news and predict what it means for the future?

Like your variable emotions, your instinct has many variables. The way it works in the brain is based on what you see and how you interpret that data. Take for example when you spot a colleague doing something different, they have come into the office and sat down with a smoothie. You have been sitting beside them for two years and everyday they arrive with a coffee. You have detected a change in their pattern of behaviours. It’s a simple, very common example but what is happening behind the scenes is your brain's ability to see that something has changed and then sends a signal to your conscious mind to act. In this example, you act by saying something to your colleague.

These patterns of behaviours run into the millions inside your unconscious mind. Our minds can be our friends and enemies, our brain looks after us, it wants to make our life as easy as possible. The brain find ways to make our lives as consistent as possible and this is also true with how we interpret life. It’s our data which we use to enforce our point of view. Over time, it creates resistance to points of view that are different from what we believe. It can become harder and harder for us to learn, to accept anything new. That’s not a situation anyone wants to be in. It’s important to recognise your own patterns of behaviours, to look at them in a new way and make sure you are doing all you can to be all you can.

Creative Intelligence

Having shared some insights about how emotional intelligence works, you can start to form a picture of why it matters just as much as the IQ side of our intelligence. Even better, you already use emotional intelligence in all you do in life, you just have more awareness now of how it works. Emotional Intelligence is what affects all of our behaviours and for me personally, it’s what drives how my brain thinks, it’s my passion.

I am not so determined to prove the power of EQ that I dismiss IQ. What we did instead was look at how to bring them together.

Creative Intelligence is how we describe that unique mix that both individuals and companies create between IQ and EQ. If you think about people, you know they can be more emotional, or more practical, more people orientated or more numbers oriented, more driven by praise or more driven by reward. This flows into how we communicate to others and all I just mentioned is true for companies. As a mass of humans, we create behavioural patterns, values, rules and that is what we communicate to our customers in what we advertise, what we say on our websites and how we interact human to human.

If you are more orientated to IQ, you will be more practical and if you are more orientated to EQ you will be more expressive and show more excitement in what you do. Think about Apple vs Samsung vs Blackberry. Are they more IQ, more EQ or somewhere in the middle? Where would you want to be on the Creative Intelligence range to sell awesome phones?

Everyone has a unique mix of Creative Intelligence. If you can understand what makes you you, then you have control of your Creative Intelligence and it becomes yours to leverage.