What is EI? Articles

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« 8. EI Competency 3: Emotional awareness of others »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited MSCEIT consultant.

When you ask, "What is emotional intelligence?" there isn't just one answer because emotional intelligence can be divided into several skill subsets.

One of these is the ability to be aware of others' emotions and to read other people.

All models of emotional intelligence include this as one of their components, with the Genos Emotional Intelligence model, for example, including "the emotional awareness of others" as the third of their seven dimensions of emotional intelligence.

This aspect of emotional intelligence is fundamentally important in building productive relationships and managing and influencing others.

In this article you will find:

  • A definition of the emotional awareness of others.
  • The aspects I consider to be involved in this dimension.  
  • A key way to start developing your ability to read others' emotions

Want to do the MSCEIT to measure your emotional intelligence? It is the gold-standard ability measure. To find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green, click here

Definition of emotional awareness of others

The skill of perceiving and understanding others' emotions.

There are many aspects to this. For example, it may mean:

  • Being able to observe the non-verbal signals people give that indicate how they are feeling. These may include voice tone, facial expression, eye movement, head position, postural changes, speech characteristics, breathing characteristics, and more.
  • Being able to understand accurately what these signals mean with regards to their underlying emotions. This is not the same as misreading a person. Some people take things personally even when the emotional signals are nothing to do with them. This is not a high level of emotional intelligence on this dimension. Being accurate is.
  • Being able to perceive the impact that you are having on someone else.
  • Being able to read the play in meetings.
  • Being able to hear people when they are expressing their emotions without belittling, ridiculing or dismissing them, e.g. not telling them they are "being too emotional".
  • Being able to ask people how they feel.
  • Being able to understand why certain emotions may have arisen in certain contexts.
  • Paying attention to the emotions of others in meetings, negotiations, performance reviews and other situations in which they emerge at work.
  • Perceiving emotional overtones in an organisation, team or interaction, even when these remain unspoken.

Find out ways to read the emotions of others by watching our video.

Ways to develop your EI and emotional awareness of others

There are numerous steps you could take. I recommend you start by watching a video with the sound down. As you do this write down how you think each person is feeling and what are the signs that suggest this to you. Then re-watch the video with the sound turned up and see if you were correct.

Emotional awareness of others is a vital emotional intelligence skill for anyone in a leadership position. It is important in building long-term relationships, influencing, persuading and negotiating with people, and in being able to predict behaviour.

How do you relate to others' emotions? If you ignore others' emotions you do so at your peril. Develop this dimension of emotional intelligence now.

A case study of emotional awareness of others in the workplace is here.

Have your emotional intelligence assessed now.

Want to know how high your emotional intelligence is? There is another model of emotional intelligence, by Salovey and Mayer, that has an ability-based emotional intelligence test called the MSCEIT which you can complete online.

Click here to find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green.

Develop your emotional intelligence now

We have many resources plus coaching packages to help you. Click here for the 5 star emotional intelligence coaching package, or for more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now and lead a happier, more productive life and improve your work relationships, whether with colleagues, stakeholders or customers.