People with high levels of emotional intelligence are more self-aware, better able to regulate their emotions, and can cope well during stressful or challenging times. As well, individuals with high EQ scores have more empathy for others, can build and nurture healthier relationships, are more productive at work, and more fulfilled in general. All of these qualities are critical elements of effective leadership.

For measuring and assessing Emotional Intelligence, we use two tools, the EQ-i 2.0® and the EQ-360®, both developed by Multi-Health Systems, which are based on the model of emotional-social intelligence pioneered by Dr. Reuven Bar-On during the 1990s.

Let’s examine the definition of emotional intelligence as it relates to the EQ-i 2.0® model.

Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that jointly determine how we:

  • perceive ourselves (self-perception)
  • express ourselves (self-expression)
  • develop and maintain social relationships (interpersonal)
  • use our emotions to make decisions in a meaningful way (decision-making)
  • how well we cope with daily challenges (stress-management) 

But, when it comes to emotional intelligence, having high EQ scores doesn’t always mean that it is a real strength. Too much of a good thing can be too much. There is the dark side of emotional intelligence.

Have you ever thought about what your strengths look like overplayed? What impact do these overused strengths have on others?

Let’s break down one of the five composite scales – Self Perception, and illustrate how its three respective competencies – Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, and Emotional Self-Awareness, show up when over-played. 

Self-Regard

Self-Regard is about respecting and having a high regard for oneself, while understanding and accepting both one’s strengths as well as one’s weakness. People who score high in self-regard are confident, self-assured, and will take their own needs into consideration. Confident people tend to be extroverted, charismatic, and socially-skilled, which in most Western societies, are highly desirable qualities.  

But, too much self-regard can lead to overconfidence, narcissism, and an inability to admit mistakes. For instance, if you rank too high in self-regard, it can come across as arrogance and obnoxiousness. Overly confident and narcissistic individuals can be perceived as rude and self-entitled. Narcissism involves feelings of grandiosity, which can lead to a lack of impulse control – resisting or delaying temptation, as well as a lack of empathy – seeing things from another person’s perspective. Narcissistic people also have a lack of remorse and can lead to somewhat erratic lifestyles.

 

Self-Actualization

Self-Actualization is about the pursuit of meaning in one’s life – living a life of passion, meaning and purpose. Self-actualized people are wanting to self-improve and are persistent in continuing to be the best they can be. When employees score high in self-actualization, they bring purpose to their work, which translates into having stronger relationships, growing more in their roles as leaders, and making a more significant impact on others and the organization.  

However, too much self-actualization leads to never being content with one’s accomplishments. People who tip the scales in self-actualization may never be satisfied and content with what they have accomplished. They are always looking for bigger, better, more. Too self-actualized can also lead to not recognizing when others are unfulfilled and not living up to their potential. There are some people at work right now that are merely there for a paycheque, nothing more. They are not trying to make themselves or the world better. If you are overly self-actualized, you may have a hard time relating, connecting with or motivating those types of employees.

 

Emotional Self-Awareness

Emotional Self-Awareness is one of the essential foundational skills for emotional intelligence. It is about understanding your own emotions, which includes recognizing the nuances between the different feelings like mad, sad, glad, as well as the different levels of intensity an emotion can have. For instance, sadness can be experienced as a sense of hopelessness (high intensity), or distress (medium intensity), or disappointment (low intensity). People with high emotional self-awareness are not only aware of their emotions, but also what their triggers are. Individuals who are aware of their triggers before they happen are better at taking the emotional charge out of a situation, and just labelling the emotion for what it is, without getting too emotionally invested. These people tend to be more self-regulated. As the old saying goes, “If you can name the emotion, you can tame it.

Being too aware of your feelings can lead to overthinking situations and focusing on insignificant details. For instance, people with too much emotional self-awareness could spend hours ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. They can spend a lot of time thinking about the hidden meanings in things people say or do, reliving their mistakes, or rehashing conversations. Overthinking can take a severe toll on one’s emotional well-being and happiness.  

So, are you overplaying any of your self-perception competencies?   If so, which of the three EI competencies are too high? And more importantly, what are you going to do to avoid overextending one of your strengths?

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