Going beyond Emotional Intelligence - Blog

Going beyond Emotional Intelligence

 By Hugo Minney PhD

This article focus on an important soft skill - Emotional Quotient (EQ).

EQ is about understanding yourself and others - understanding the emotions that can run high, that can either get in the way of your own performance, or get in the way of the message you are trying to convey.

But there's a next generation development on EQ.

1) Embodiment 

A key soft skill for project managers is embodiment. This takes EQ down a particular route - tapping into your intuition to know what is the right decision, and knowing how accurate your intuition is. Embodiment has been explored and used by many business leaders, researchers and coaches, and is perhaps explained best in Amanda Blake's "Your Body is Your Brain".

Embodiment is individual - your intuition will show itself in different ways to you personally. You will need to find out your own signals: whether a tight line across your eyes and bridge of nose means that you are about to make a mistake, or making the best possible decision; whether butterflies in the stomach mean that you are about to be tongue-tied, or that you're ready to bounce on stage and perform. For example: both Barbra Streisand and Bruce Springsteen had stage fright: before performing in front of a live audience they both had stomach is all knotted up, felt nauseous (and even vomited), heart pounding, getting clammy and even sweaty. Barbra Streisand dreaded performing in front of a live audience and went into film. Bruce Springsteen said "that's when I know I'm ready to go on. I'm ready to give my audience my best show ever."


So how do you know what works for you? You'll have to find out for yourself.

1. Think of a time when you had a big decision to make, like starting a relationship or leaving one, choosing a job.

2. Without considering whether the decision was right or wrong (this is important), put yourself into the situation before you made the decision.

3. Remember where you were - where in the world, which building, which room. What was the room like (colours, temperature, sounds, light)? Who was present?

4. What did you feel? Around your heart? Around your gut? In your head or face?

5. Was your decision right? Or with hindsight, was it wrong?

6. For each decision - what feelings are common to right decisions? What feelings are common to wrong decisions?

Further reading: Amanda Blake "Your Body is your Brain"

 2) Social Intelligence (SI)

Social intelligence is the capacity to know oneself and to know others. Social Intelligence develops from experience with people and learning from success and failures in social settings. It is more commonly referred to as "tact", "common sense", or "street smarts".

We often assume that Social Intelligence comes with experience, and experienced people do tend to have more social skills. However like any behaviour, it can be learnt, and it can be learnt more quickly.

Social Intelligence means recognising how other people are responding to your proposals for change. With good SI, you will recognise whether your audience agrees with or supports you, and if you are getting negative feedback, you can adjust the words you use, the speed (cadence), tone (bass or soprano), assertiveness and body language to positive effect. Some people are incredibly persuasive - they don't get it right first time, but they change their delivery on the fly and test for effect, until they come to the right delivery for their audience.


Becoming persuasive is a bit harder than learning about your intuition.

1. Understand the ways people take in information, and process information

2. Understand body language to know what's a positive response and what's a negative response

3. Practice different ways of delivering a message, whether by varying voice, body language, expression, dominance or appeal

4. Practice facilitating meetings which take into account different ways of taking in information (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, logical), and encouraging participation from thinkers ("introverts") and controlling input from speakers ("extroverts")

5. Practice reading body language, and compare your reading with the outcomes of the conversations/ meetings to see if you read correctly and if not, what adjustments are needed

6. EVENTUALLY practice combining everything above: adjust your delivery and watch how the feedback changes

7. Practice, practice, practice. You can use low-risk meetings like team meetings to test out what creates negative feedback, as well as high-risk meetings to test what creates positive feedback.

Further Reading: Daniel Goleman "Social Intelligence"

 About the Author

 Dr Hugo Minney is Director of Volunteering for the PMI (UK) Board. He's a subject matter expert on benefits management at Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria, Northern England and panel chair and lead author for the British Standard on benefits management. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hugominney/

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Mr. Andrew Peters, PMP
Sunday, 25 February 2024