The Social Side of Emotional Intelligence

By Larry Bonfante  |  Posted 11-07-2014 Print Email

The external aspects of emotional intelligence—social awareness and relationship management—can help you focus on others and build effective relationships.

Social Side of Emotional Intelligence

Last month I wrote about two aspects of emotional intelligence—self-awareness and self-management—and the role these competencies play in being an effective CIO. This time around, I’d like to focus on the external aspects of emotional intelligence: social awareness and relationship management.

At its core, social awareness is the ability to take your eyes off yourself and focus on the other person. Specifically it’s learning to understand another person well enough to know what resonates with him or her, what will help to grow your relationship, and, perhaps most important, where the other person's emotional “third rail” resides.

In order to understand another person, we must do three things, which I know I sometimes find hard to do. First and most importantly, we must exhibit genuine empathy. It’s very easy for us to view the world through our own lens and focus on “what’s in it for us.” It’s much harder to try to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and see how the issue at hand affects them, how they feel about it and that their reaction to issues is not a personal attack on you. Rather, it's about how they're wired to respond to specific stimuli.

One thing that helps establish empathy is being a good listener. This is an area I’ve historically struggled with at various times. I’m often so focused on what I want to say and how I can get my point across that I don’t always make the effort to be totally present, simply listen to the other person and allow them to share their thoughts, concerns and emotions about an issue before I react or respond.

The second aspect of outward-facing emotional intelligence is building effective relationships. I’ve written on this topic before and will again because it is critical to executive success. One of the most important things you can do to establish effective relationships is to build trust. Much of trust comes down to your credibility with the other person.  

I’ve often told my coaching clients that credibility in its basic form comes down to a simple but hard-to-achieve statement: Say what you mean and mean what you say! Saying what you mean requires you to be transparent, forthright and honest: no sugar coating or dancing around an issue.

Of course, this is not an excuse to be a jerk! You should always be professional and constructive. But if there’s an issue you need to deal with, then deal with it head on and explore how you and your colleague can adapt and work together to resolve the challenge.

Meaning what you say means being a person of your word. My clients know that if I write a check, they can take it to the bank and cash it. I always deliver on my commitments, and if I can’t deliver, I don’t make the commitment.

A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to deliver a keynote presentation at a conference in Los Angeles. I got out of bed with 102 degree fever, got on a plane for six hours, checked into my hotel, took a hot shower, delivered my keynote and then collapsed in my hotel room. When the event organizer saw me, he said, “You look like hell. Why are you even here?” I told him that I had made a commitment to him and 250 attendees that I would deliver a message, and that’s what I did.

Remember the importance of always being outward facing and focusing on what the other person needs and how you can help that individual succeed.

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.

 

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com. - See more at: http://www.cioinsight.com/it-management/expert-voices/what-football-and-it-organizations-have-in-common.html#sthash.6JxehhbV.dpuf

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com. - See more at: http://www.cioinsight.com/it-management/expert-voices/what-football-and-it-organizations-have-in-common.html#sthash.6JxehhbV.dpuf

About the Author

Larry Bonfante is a practicing CIO and founder of CIO Bench Coach, LLC, an executive coaching practice for IT executives. He is also the author of Lessons in IT Transformation, published by John Wiley & Sons. He can be reached at Larry@CIOBenchCoach.com.



 

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