A new season is creeping up on us: winter. While the seasons change in terms of weather, one season that does not hibernate is that of emotional intelligence or EQ. “Now” always seems to be the season of high-profile people making poor emotional intelligence decisions.

Emotional intelligence is the ability you have to recognize, manage, and understand how your emotions govern your decisions and relationships.

Your IQ and title do not correlate to high levels of EQ. Well-known figures fall into the trap of being far less emotional intelligent that their IQs or resumes would lead us to believe.

The former CEO and Founder of Groupon makes me laugh the most lately (and frown, too). Before he was relieved of his position as CEO, Andrew Mason held a company-wide meeting to discuss how the organization had to grow up and stop taking “stupid risks.” While speaking, he also seemed to have his voice “break.” He then apologized for drinking too much beer (it was available to everyone during the meeting).

I’m trying to figure out his message: “Time to grow up, folks–burp–whoops, sorry about that. OK, let’s first finish our drinks and start that growing up tomorrow.”

What’s wrong with Andrew? Right now, I will point out just one thing: low EQ. Also, maybe not just a good idea to allow the media to observe such meetings.

EQ comprises self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In Andrew’s case, I would argue he is lacking solid self-awareness and self-management: he hasn’t yet mastered what he can and can’t do as the CEO of a high-profile and public company.

Here’s another great article on this event, by Tom Post of Forbes.

We all make mistakes. Being emotionally intelligent means you begin to catch yourself before you make some missteps. You train your brain to allow some gut reactions to be paused, so your rational, logical side can consider if the automatic reaction is the best one for you, the situation, the people involved, the business, etc.

We see the EQ foibles of CEOs documented often in the news; we personally are affected by such follies committed by people around us at work all the time.

So, how can you avoid some mistakes of your own–saying or doing things automatically and then regretting them?

Start by identifying your hot buttons at work. What things drive you nuts? And when you are being driven nuts, how are you reacting? For example, if people arriving late to meetings makes you angry and you regularly throw out some snippy remarks, then test yourself to not say anything in response to tardiness just once a day. Instead of speaking, take a quiet, deep breath as the late arrivers walk in.

Then, do some reading. For a primer, check out Emotional Intelligence 2.0: a great, short book with an online assessment included and amazing training materials. For a deep dive, read Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, as he is the #1 expert and researcher in this field.

Finally, ask others for help. Ask trusted peers and your manager to share with you some of the triggers they see in your behavior. Self-awareness involves looking inward as well as asking others for their insight and help.

Choosing just one hot button to focus on can make a big difference. Retrain your brain one step at a time. Doing so will make raise your EQ a little yet can dramatically influence your effectiveness, engagement, and health (really, it’s true).

Need some help? Let me know in the comments section what your hot buttons are and we can discuss how I can hold you accountable.

Too bad there aren’t any Groupon offers for emotional intelligence, eh? I wish it were that easy.

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