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Emotional intelligence stretches the IQ concept


Philosopher Rene Descartes, in a fit of wisdom, proclaimed, “I think, therefore I am.”

But as some psychologists have begun to emphasize that human beings are made of emotions, Kevin Pokorny says it may be more accurate to say, “I feel, therefore I am.”

Pokorny, founder of Pokorny Consulting, will expound upon the notion of emotional intelligence at a Nov. 17 seminar, allowing local business people to explore the largely unknown concept, but one that he claims can have a profound impact in the workplace.

Research on emotional intelligence has been conducted throughout the last 50 years, according to Pokorny, but the general public became aware of it following the 1995 publication of Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional Intelligence.” In that book, Goleman claims: “We are being judged by a new yardstick. It’s not how smart you are, but how you are smart.”

Emotional intelligence serves a complementary function to a person’s cognitive skills, allowing people to understand their emotions, what they are and what impact they have.

“You need both to function extremely well in work and to have a very satisfying personal life,” Pokorny said.

Part of the concept of emotional intelligence centers on whether a person is an optimist or a pessimist and how it affects their ability to deal with setbacks and obstacles, and to what degree they are driven to perform.

Goleman’s book presents a case study on Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., which concluded that, among new salespeople, optimists sold 37 percent more insurance than pessimists in their first years with the company.

“What Goleman is contending is that there is a direct link between the emotion of seeing things in a positive light and our ability to be a success,” said Pokorny. “And that is something that people aren’t necessarily born with.”

The Nov. 17 seminar will inform participants about the four competencies of emotional intelligence and their corresponding skills, as well as how they can be applied to workplace situations. The first two competencies, self-awareness and self-management, focus on how to manage yourself and your emotions. Self-awareness, Pokorny said, focuses on the ability to accurately perceive emotions and be aware of them as they happen, as well as understanding tendencies in responding to different people in different situations.

“I need to take a very quick look inside myself and figure out what’s triggering these feelings,” he said.

The competency of self-management focuses on being able to manage your emotions so that you stay flexible and positively choose how to react to people, keeping impulses under control.

The last two competencies, social awareness and relationship management, focus on how you relate with other people and facilitate relationships. Social awareness calls for the skill of empathy, which Pokorny said is the most important skill to be learned in becoming emotionally intelligent, particularly in working with customers.

“For the people providing customer service, they will find that they gain a lot more confidence in their work and their ability to help customers meet their needs, and the company is going to get greater customer loyalty, people will be working at a higher level of production and, financially speaking, it certainly helps the bottom line,” he said.

Through relationship management, people can learn how to be aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others in order to manage interactions more successfully.

Pokorny hopes the seminar will provide a basic foundation for people to begin to understand emotional intelligence and encourage them to continue to practice those skills and recognize their applications in every aspect of life. He has recognized the benefits of developing emotional intelligence through his consulting business and working with client companies, but has also seen its benefits in his personal life, including in his marriage and his relationship with his children.

When his son reacted to a higher-than-expected cell phone bill this summer, Pokorny tapped into his emotional intelligence, empathizing with his son’s emotions and asking questions to understand the situation from his son’s point of view. His son was able to calm down and take the next step in dealing with the situation.

“Initially I wanted to accuse him that he screwed up and chastise him,” said Pokorny. “But if I acted on those emotions, it would add gasoline to the fire. What I needed to be doing was to forget about my feelings – they’re secondary. I was very conscious of all that and it all happened within a matter of seconds.”

For more information on the seminar, which is open to both managers and non-managers, visit www.pokornyconsulting.com.

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