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Learning to recognise and understand your feelings and emotions is the first step towards higher emotional intelligence

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Emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of the seven attributes in ACCA’s recently developed model showing the skills and qualities needed from the successful professional accountant. Emotionally intelligent accountants find it easier to form and maintain good working relationships, but what exactly does EQ mean and how do you go about developing it?

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, EQ comprises:

  • the ability to understand your own emotions and how they impact others (self-awareness)
  • the ability to control your emotions and impulses (self-regulation)
  • internal drive to improve and achieve (motivation)
  • giving consideration to the feelings of others (empathy)
  • the ability to influence relationships (social skill).

You can develop or improve your EQ. To do this, you must start with improving your self-awareness. Assess accurately what you feel in certain situations, why these feelings have occurred, how the feelings affect your thoughts and actions and what effect your behaviour has on other people.

For example, think about how you react in stressful situations. Do you take a tight deadline in your stride, or do you get anxious and panic? When your manager criticises something you have done, do you calmly get to the bottom of the problem and correct it, or do you get upset or angry? Do you perhaps blame others even when it is not their fault? On the whole, do you cope well under pressure or do you always magnify the negative aspects of problematic situations?

You may find such self-analysis of your emotions difficult as it is likely to expose some weaknesses, but it’s important that you are honest with yourself. Only then will you be able to address and remedy any problem areas and learn to keep your emotions under control.

But what if you do this self-evaluation and come up with a long list of strengths and very few weaknesses to speak of?

It is possible that you are quite a unique individual, but it’s more likely that you find it hard to accurately recognise your emotions and to understand why you are feeling them. Get into a habit of seeking regular and honest feedback from those around you. This may help trigger your awareness about what is really going on in your mind and how you come across in your interactions with colleagues and managers.

In time, you will gain confidence, learn to trust your intuition, and will not have to rely on others for evaluation of yourself.

Last updated: 16 May 2017