Being empowered and leading with emotional intelligence is one of the best tools I have ever come across and is the reason I do what I do. I don’t know a better tool to get professionals to get unstuck, maximize their potential and achieve more. 

We use both Multi-Health Systems’ EQ-i 2.0® and EQ-360® to measure and assess our clients’ emotional intelligence. Not only does either of these assessment tools measure your total EQ, but it also scores you on each of the 15 competencies, highlighting your strengths and potential for improvement. And, although we are all striving to have high emotional intelligence, Dr. Steven Stein, the Founder and Executive Chairman of MHS, states, “the ideal thing is not just getting all high scores… it’s about balance.” 

In the last three posts in my 5-part blog series, I have been discussing the dark side of emotional intelligence. When your EQ scores are too high, you can hone your emotional skills to be used for evil.

I first discussed The Dark Side of EI – Self Perception, then The Dark Side of EI – Self Expression, and in my last blog, I shared The Dark Side of EI – Interpersonal. Now, let’s dive into the fourth area that contributes to emotional intelligence – Decision Making and the three corresponding EI skills related to this realm: Problem Solving, Reality Testing and Impulse Control. This composite scale is about how we use the information our emotions provide to make decisions. 

PROBLEM-SOLVING

Problem Solving is the ability to find solutions to problems in situations that are emotionally charged or where you are triggered. Understanding how emotions impact your decision making and that of others. 

Question – are you even aware of your emotional state when making decisions? Emotions can influence, skew or sometimes completely determine the outcome of a large number of decisions we are confronted within a day.

Have you ever asked yourself, what was I thinking? Well, quite frankly, you might not have been thinking at all, but instead reacting on emotion, not logic.  When you are a great problem-solver, you do your research and gather the facts first, weighing the pros and cons, and drawing on past experiences when you can. You think systematically about issues, and use emotions as data to help to find robust solutions. You base your decisions on facts versus on your opinions or impulses. 

But what happens when you are too good at problem-solving? When you are too rational with problem-solving, it can lead to focusing on the solution to the problem rather than the people the problem impacts. When you concentrate on merely solving the problem, you are ignoring the emotions behind the problem. Sometimes what we are seeking is not the answer to our problems, but a sense that they understand what we are going through. We are not looking for answers,  we are looking for comfort, reassurance and empathy. When you deploy an overly logical stance, you can come across as cold, unkind, and impatient.  

Also, when you are an excessively rational problem-solver, you choose logic over emotion, preventing you from being influential, gaining buy-in for your ideas, or winning arguments in the workplace. And some studies show that emotions are more persuasive than logic. Speaking from the heart and using emotive language like “I want” or “My hope is” or “I feel excited” can be incredibly convincing. When it comes to the art and science behind persuading others, you need both logic and emotion to make a difference and impact. 

REALITY TESTING

Reality Testing is the ability to be objective and see things as they genuinely are versus making them better or worse than they are. We all have biases and preconceived notions about the world, which can cause all of us to be less objective and can create stories about what is going on. A true realist is someone who makes completely unbiased judgements. 

If you have a high score in reality testing, you are aware of your biases – in yourself and others. You do not let your emotions cloud your objectivity. You are rational, very tuned into your environment, grounded, impartial and can access situations reasonably accurately. You live in the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.  

The dark side of being too realistic is you can be too focused on the current reality, which leads to a lack of optimism. Innovation and change come from seeing past reality to create amazing things. Imagination can break the cycle of sameness. Entrepreneurs must learn to balance their inner cheerleader and realist, and it isn’t always a clear-cut line down the middle. 

Some business situations require more optimism than realism, while others call for the opposite. For instance, you don’t want your lawyer to be too optimistic; you want them to think of all of the risks you might be exposed to, and look out for all of the things that could go wrong. However, you don’t want an inventor to be too realistic as they would never see past the current offerings and emerge to help lead all industries into the future.   What is important is knowing when to think like a realist and when not to.

Another dark side of too much reality testing is your focus is only on objective evidence and can lack empathy and overlook the emotional viewpoints of others. When you are too realistic, you believe what you see is real. But every situation bears a million different details to consider, which can impact a variety of emotional responses, and just as many memories to compare them to. You need to apply a deeper logic based on being sympathetic to the complexities of emotional life.

Psychologists have said what people “know” about themselves and others is a function of their backgrounds, motivational frames, and unique/biased perspectives, sometimes called ‘positional knowledge.’ When you rank high in reality testing, you need to check your assumptions from your positional knowledge and ask others for their viewpoints and opinions to get the bigger perspective of what is currently happening for not just you, but all those involved.

IMPULSE CONTROL

Impulse Control is the ability to resist or delay an impulse or temptation to act. Those who don’t react on a whim, and take time to look at the entire situation are better at making decisions for the long run.  

When you are strong in impulse control, you can resist acting on something you want immediately; you override habits of thought or behaviour, to have more choice. It is about self-regulation and control. You can subdue your impulses, emotions, and behaviours to achieve your long-term goals. You are a highly tolerant and patient person, who avoids doing things that you will later regret, rather than responding to every impulse as they come. Having high impulse control allows people to direct their attention despite the presence of competing stimuli. If you have high impulse control, you probably do not suffer from addictive behaviours, impulsivity, or eating disorders.

However, every virtue comes with an accompanying dark side. Impulse and self-control come with rigidity. In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he discusses two systems that drive the way we think and make choices. System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional, and System Two is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.  When you are too controlling of your impulses and desires, your decision making is driving in System 2 on steroids, which can lead to very slow and overly cautious decision making. You see all the potential danger that lies around every corner and within every given situation.  You can be less reticent to make changes and take chances. You tend to be rigid individuals, where everything is deliberate, and for you, spontaneity and surprise are scary and dangerous. 

Now it’s time to reflect on your own decision making competencies. If you’re not sure where you rank, take a look at our EQ Assessments, where you will receive a personalized debrief with a certified EQ coach. You can also check out our online emotional intelligence training courses, to begin or continue your own emotional intelligence journey!

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