How Humans Work

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Emotional Intelligence - EQ

We recognise the importance of how we interact with the human world around us, not just the quality of our abstract decisions. Much of Human Factors (HF) is intrinsic to making human interfaces work effectively and smoothly - the principles of Emotional Intelligence - EQ are fundamental to much of what we do. This is a brief introduction to the concept.

EQ stands for "Emotional Intelligence" and refers to a set of skills and attributes that involve the ability to recognise, understand, manage, and effectively use emotions in various social and interpersonal contexts. Emotional Intelligence is a concept that gained popularity in the field of psychology and leadership in the 1990s, primarily through the work of psychologists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer and later popularised by author and science journalist Daniel Goleman.

There are several key components of emotional intelligence:
  • Self-awareness: This involves recognising and understanding your own emotions, moods, and their impact on your thoughts and behaviour. Self-aware individuals can accurately identify their feelings and reactions.
  • Self-regulation: Self-regulation is the ability to manage and control your emotional responses, particularly in challenging or stressful situations. It also involves being able to delay gratification, resist impulsive actions, and maintain emotional stability.
  • Motivation: Motivation in the context of emotional intelligence refers to the ability to use emotions to set and pursue goals. People with high emotional intelligence are often driven by intrinsic motivation and are able to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of setbacks.
  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It involves being attuned to the emotions and perspectives of those around you. Empathetic individuals are skilled in recognising the emotional needs of others.
  • Social skills: Social skills encompass a range of abilities related to effective interpersonal interactions. This includes communication, conflict resolution, teamwork, and the ability to build and maintain positive relationships.

Emotional intelligence is considered crucial in personal and professional success. People with high EQ tend to excel in leadership positions, have better interpersonal relationships, and are more effective in their communication and collaboration with others. It's particularly important in settings that require teamwork, such as the workplace, as it can help reduce conflicts and enhance overall group dynamics.

This is fundamental to Human Factors - that leadership is more about trust and enabling others than simply 'being in charge'. EQ covers the key skills that we need when we move on from simply excelling at our tasks to being responsible for others doing that or similar tasks. We often get promoted because of out technical skills, but these ill-equip us for the management tasks ahead. EQ and HF fill those gaps perfectly.

Developing emotional intelligence is an ongoing process that involves self-reflection, self-improvement, and practice. There are various training programs and resources available to help individuals enhance their EQ, and many organisations now recognise the importance of EQ in their hiring and leadership development processes.

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