Emotional Intelligence: Perceive and Apply Emotions in Yourself and Others

“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not easy.” -Aristotle

From an early age, many of us were taught that there are bad words we shouldn’t use. I won’t provide any examples here, but I suspect most readers know which words I’m referring to. In our industry, there are other “bad” words that we have learned we should avoid at all costs – because they are perceived to show signs of weakness. These words include “feelings,” “relationships,” “emotions” and “caring.”

My personal observation is that many organizations and individuals have become more accepting of these words due to increased understanding of leadership and human performance. Still, quite a few of us want nothing to do with emotions and feelings, and that is such a shame. We are missing out on a great number of opportunities for personal and professional growth and success.

So, in the remainder of this article, let’s talk about emotional intelligence. What is it? And why should we try to improve it?

How Emotionally Intelligent are You?
Do you often feel misunderstood and unappreciated, or do you adapt well to people and circumstances? Are you more likely to blame others for problems or take accountability and develop solutions? Would your co-workers say you are subject to emotional outbursts or that you are level-headed and self-controlled? Would you rather compete with your peers and win or be part of a winning team? How many relationships do you have that have lasted more than 10 years? And perhaps most importantly in the context of this conversation, do people have to tell you how they are feeling, or do you pick up on their verbal and nonverbal cues in an empathetic way?

Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as an individual’s ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. That includes possessing the skills to name emotions as well as harness and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving.

In his book “Mind Matters: Applying Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Success,” author Robert G. Jerus lists the habits of emotionally intelligent people, stating that they:

  • Focus on positivity and optimism.
  • Act with assertiveness and defined boundaries.
  • Perform with creativity and actively solve problems.
  • Are involved in continuous learning and improvement.
  • Resolve conflict with energy, good feelings and positive results.
  • Surround themselves with positive people.
  • Have relationships that generate mutual benefit; get along with others.
  • Take time to be mindful and self-aware.
  • Serve with empathy and passion.
  • Manage their own goals and agenda.
  • Develop long-term relationships.
  • Generate positive outcomes through influence and leadership.

Becoming More Emotionally Intelligent
At this point, hopefully you are thinking what I am thinking. When I consider the kind of person, leader, teammate and employee I would like to be, it seems extraordinarily useful to be able to perceive and apply emotions in myself and others. How can we do that? Following are some tips that can be found in the report you receive after you take the emotional intelligence assessment offered by the Incident Prevention Institute (visit https://assessmyteam.com for more information).

  • Accept your feelings and the feelings of others as information without judgment or rejection.
  • Connect your emotions and thoughts. Think about the causes and impacts of feelings.
  • Be curious about and interested in other people.
  • Focus attention on others and what they are willing to share. Hear both verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Develop habits of self-control and personal discipline.
  • Accept responsibility for your behavior, communication, performance and impact.
  • Resolve conflict judiciously through attention, focus, problem solving and seeking double wins.
  • Promote change management and continuous learning.

I typically try to write about, present and teach topics on which I am a subject matter expert or at least pretty skilled. As far as emotional intelligence is concerned, I have quite a bit of training and am certified as an advanced practitioner. But with that said, some things are easier said than done – and some things are easier taught than practiced.

Here’s what I know: Emotional intelligence affects – among other things – communication, decision making, leadership, sales, teamwork, productivity, relationships, conflict management and customer service. Being emotionally intelligent allows us to better relate to and more effectively interact with others, and what we learn can be applied to our jobs and personal lives. The great news is that emotional intelligence can be learned, practiced and improved.

I want to become more emotionally intelligent, and I invite you to join me on the journey. We’ll explore this topic in detail during a free webinar on November 11 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (visit https://frontlineutilityleader.com for more information). During the webinar, we’ll discuss over 50 ways to improve your emotional intelligence, and you’ll be offered a chance to take our emotional IQ assessment and attend a virtual debrief.

While I certainly hope you’ll attend the webinar and take the assessment, you don’t have to – and you can still become more emotionally intelligent. Start by identifying your emotions and the behaviors those emotions typically result in. You can then start to view certain emotions as triggers for certain behaviors, which can help lead you to more managed emotions and controlled behaviors. As you improve, you can also learn to better identify the emotions of others and increase your empathy.

Emotional intelligence is decidedly a skill worth knowing about, talking about, learning and developing.

About the Author: David McPeak, CUSP, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (https://ip-institute.com). He has extensive experience and expertise in leadership, human performance, safety and operations. McPeak is passionate about personal and professional development and believes that intrapersonal and interpersonal skills are key to success. He also is an advanced certified practitioner in DISC, emotional intelligence, the Hartman Value Profile, learning styles and motivators.

About Frontline Fundamentals: Frontline Fundamentals topics are derived from the Incident Prevention Institute’s popular Frontline training program (https://frontlineutilityleader.com). Frontline covers critical knowledge, skills and abilities for utility leaders and aligns with the Certified Utility Safety Professional exam blueprint.


Webinar on Emotional Intelligence
November 11, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Visit https://frontlineutilityleader.com for more information.

Series Navigation<< October-November 2020 Q&A

Frontline Fundamentals


David McPeak, CET, CHST, CSP, CSSM, CUSP, is the director of professional development for Utility Business Media’s Incident Prevention Institute (www.ip-institute.com). His experience includes operations management, safety and training roles. McPeak holds multiple safety and training certifications and has received numerous awards. He also has served as chairman of Task Team One of the OSHA ET&D Partnership, as a member of Incident Prevention’s editorial advisory board and as a member of the North Carolina Apprenticeship Council. Reach him at david@utilitybusinessmedia.com.

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