Feelings and emotions are different, and yet we use the terms interchangeably. Understanding the difference between the two, and knowing how our emotions impact our lives, inform our decisions, and lead our success, isn’t innate knowledge we’re born with… However, we CAN develop emotional intelligence. We can come to understand the science of our emotions, and absolutely thrive in life and in business with a deeper awareness of our emotions and how we can manage them as a means to favorable outcomes.
Tieko Nejon Wilson is a sociologist, educator, and certified emotional intelligence practitioner and she is here to educate you, and me, in emotional intelligence. It’s a topic I’ve never tackled on the show before, so I am so eager to take notes right alongside you.
What is emotional intelligence? Can it be measured? Should it be measured? And if it’s measured, what can we do with that metric? All of these questions, plus a whole bunch more… I’m so thrilled to welcome Tieko Nejon.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
The best way to answer this, according to Tieko, is to start with what emotional intelligence is not. It’s not an excuse to be “emotional” (she said this with air quotes), meaning you get to say whatever you’re feeling and act out those emotions for others to deal with.
It’s not a way to suppress emotions. Emotional intelligence is not a method to cage what you’re feeling.
Emotional intelligence is identifying your emotions appropriately and then being able to see the emotions in other people. It’s about seeing what another person is feeling and labeling it correctly. Then, it’s taking both aspects and determining how to respond in a way that is beneficial to the outcome.
Tieko put it simply, “It’s how I connect emotionally to experiences and encounters that are happening around me.”
Emotions versus Feelings
Tieko got into the emotional intelligence space because she realized after working with hundreds of entrepreneurs and teams both big and small, that a majority were hyper focused on the result and not the work or the people who were driving the results. She wanted to redirect the focus to the people who were leading these teams to the end result they wanted. “There is nothing we do that is disconnected from an emotion.”
A feeling is really your belief about something. Every time we say the words “I feel” we are explaining what we believe. Feelings are more of a learned behavior. We might learn about love as we’re growing up, and then decide to gravitate or deviate from that feeling or belief based on what we’ve learned.
An emotion is an instinctual response to that feeling. Instinctual means it’s a biological response to how you feel. The last time you felt anger, you maybe started sweating, maybe you froze, maybe your heart started to race. The feeling of anger receives a biological response and that response is different for every person.
Emotions follow feelings. You have beliefs about something and that drives your emotion behind it. The four core emotions are happiness, sadness, fear, and anger.
Press play on the episode above to hear Tieko’s examples for working through emotional responses to experiences for children, like bringing your kiddos to the doctor for shots and how to prevent a fearful response at a future visit.
What is IQ and EQ?
Your IQ is a measure of quantitative things, like cognitive intelligence, memory skills, problem solving, math and analytical abilities. It’s a measure of can you do this or not. It’s not a deep look at intelligence. Rather, it measures natural ability at quantitative things.
EQ measures how you show up as a human. It measures our ability to measure our own emotions and the emotions of others. “You could be really smart and still be a complete jerk,” Tieko laughed.
You could be an excellent mathematician but you could be a terrible friend, a poor communicator, and a challenging spouse.
“The saving grace is that EQ is fluid. It can be taught, it can be practiced to get better. Whereas IQ is [a percentage] genetic. Emotions are something you can change. So even if you’re a smart jerk you don’t have to be tomorrow.” I love this!
EQ measures five different areas including how we see ourselves, how we express ourselves, how we interact in our relationships, how we make decisions, and finally how we measure stress.
“You’re not trying to be good at all of them. Find one you’re really strong at and use that to balance,” Tieko explained. For example, if you know your decision-making can go from planned to sporadic and you’re not ranked high in the “how we make decisions” category, surround yourself with people who ARE strong in that area.
Tieko recommends taking an emotional intelligence assessment to learn where your strengths are.
Emotional Intelligence and Success
The history of emotional intelligence actually began in the workplace and with leadership principles. When it comes to understanding emotional intelligence and success, you have to remember that it’s how you show up.
One of the areas of measurement is how you express yourself. You might be very opinionated, but you have to recognize that it can be intimidating in a room. You might need to practice nodding your head and participating in the conversation differently, rather than jumping right in with your opinionated response.
After taking the EQ assessment, look at your strengths and your weaknesses and do some digging. Are you struggling with self-expression as an introvert? What about that category is hard? How can you show up in that area in a way that makes sense for you? Maybe you’re not inviting everyone over for a party at your home, but you focus on being able to share what you do for effectively in other conversations.
Should We Remove Emotions from Business?
As my business has grown and scaled, I’ve prided myself on the idea that I’m not an emotional decision-maker. I believe I’ve been able to remove emotions from my biggest business moves and therefore it’s made it easier for me to make big changes and take big steps. But I asked Tieko: Am I fooling myself? Have I actually removed emotion? I asked Tieko to be brutally honest with me.
“Everything you just described is a myth,” Tieko started. Everybody is emotional, you just only focus on a certain type of emotion. We might think being withdrawn isn’t an emotion. But it IS an emotion, just a different kind of emotion.
We’re all emotional, it’s just how we express those emotions (remember that category of the five above?) Tieko explained to me that I might not put as many FEELINGS into my decision-making, and that’s how I express my emotions while I’m making decisions. I’m just more focused on getting it done, not expressing what I believe in the process. I don’t get connected to what is happening because I need to see the end result.
Listen to the episode via the player above to hear Tieko’s full analysis of what I thought was my non-emotional decision making strategy. I’m seeing myself in a new way.
More from this Episode
How are we lying to ourselves about what “self-care” is? How can we strengthen the ways we show up based on emotional intelligence? And don’t forget to snag your Emotional Intelligence Goodie Bag from Tieko so you can lean into this work.