Welcome to the second of two blogs written by Vitalija Tiskute, one of the Client Development Centre team who has experience working as part of a legal team both in-house and in private practice. Here, in the second instalment, Vitalija talks about developing the skills she feels are vital for success as a lawyer.

Are you ready to develop your EQ and boost your chances of success?

In my previous blog we clarified a few myths surrounding EQ and learned that EQ is a critical element to success. J.P. Morgan Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon (who some consider to be one of the world's greatest leaders) reinforced the importance of the concept: "a lot of management skills are EQ, because management is all about how people function".

If you're in any doubt that a lack of EQ, combined with exceptionally high IQ, can be spotted by others just watch the TV series "The Big Bang" theory. If you're not familiar with the show, it has been running for ten seasons (with the eleventh and twelfth currently in the making) of pure comedy, focusing on contrasting the 'geekiness' and intellect of four scientists with the social skills of a waitress/aspiring actress living across the hall. Even though it is a comedy about a group of scientists, it could easily be about lawyers.

As I began working, it was easy to develop my technical skills, but my EQ was lagging behind and, in the organisation I was part of, I wasn't the only one. I knew there must be a better way of working - one that would set me up to be much more successful in the long-run. I wanted to work as part of team where people were more self-aware and you could have constructive conversations without fear of damaging relationships. EQ showed me a roadmap to a better way of working. I wanted to understand my starting level of EQ. I found an online test. No prizes for guessing which end of the scale I was at. My results helped me to prioritise how and where I could improve. For those of you who are curious to find out more, you can do a short quiz to gauge your level of EQ here.

Signs you are Emotionally Intelligent 

Despite the significance of EQ, its intangible nature makes it very difficult to know if you've got any.

The article "15 Signs You Are Emotionally Intelligent" by Dr. Travis Bradberry provides a good summary of high EQ signs, including:

  • You embrace change
  • You are difficult to offend
  • You let go of mistakes
  • You don't seek perfection

Aligned to each sign, the article describes ways to build your EQ, starting with simple habits like limiting your caffeine intake so that you have more control over your fight or flight responses, and getting enough sleep so that your brain can recharge.

How to Increase Your EQ

I recently found a quote to "aim for progress, not perfection" and this is the approach I am taking to develop my EQ. Wherever you find yourself on the EQ scale you can improve it if you are prepared to put time and effort in, have a plan, get support and practice. Soon you will find, your brain will start to respond differently and you can make your emotions work for you, instead of against you:

  • Ask people close to you (e.g. a workmate you get along with) about your interactions with others to get an outside perspective – you'll be surprised to see that others may view you in a way you did not expect or mention some unexpected points.
  • Observe your emotions when you are in uncomfortable and confrontational situations (e.g. when work colleagues react emotionally to something or you feel you are blamed unfairly). It is common to think that you are right and the other person is wrong and to go into a defensive mode, but people with a high EQ are aware of their reactions and can control how they respond.
  • Based on what you've learned from one and two, observe your emotions going forward so that you don't keep falling into the same reactive traps.
  • Take a moment to stop and think before speaking or acting, especially in situations where things are not going as you would like them to, rather than reacting on impulse (which you are likely to regret later).
  • If you need to vent, do it with someone you trust. Agree with them that for the next five (or twenty!) minutes you will let your thoughts out, this allows you to express your true feelings without offending anyone.
  • Try your best to view a situation from other person's perspective, this is especially useful when building relationships or managing a team. We tend to empathise when we have direct experience, but when something unexpected happens, doing this will help to dramatically reduce your anxiety.
  • If criticised, don't let emotions close your mind to the actual feedback, focus on how you can learn and move forwards.
  • Focus on progress not perfection. If you consistently apply the tips above they wilbecome habits – helping you become a better leader and more rounded person.

I hope that these blogs have sparked your interest in EQ. If you want to know more about developing your own skills, try this article by Justin Bariso "How to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence". I'd love to hear about the plans you put in place and any tips you find that you think would help me too!

The Client Development Centre works with in-house counsel and legal teams and offers a number of programmes and solutions designed to drive personal development, develop leadership skills and organisational performance.

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