How Safety Smart Are You Really?
From American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds newsletter – Kathryn H. Clark, CIH, CSP, COHC, Vice President, Safety & Health, Workers’ Compensation Fund – Utah
Is Intelligence Quotient (IQ) the best predictor of success? Your IQ may be high, but how smart are you really?
Have you ever met a highly intelligent person who just doesn’t “get it”? He or she doesn’t laugh at jokes or pick up on social cues. He or she may say or do things that offend others without being aware of doing so.
On the other hand, you may know someone who is very successful because he or she is effective at interacting with others. He or she seems to have an “intuition” or skill for developing healthy relationships and making people feel comfortable. He or she just “gets it.”
In the mid-1990’s, the term Emotional Intelligence (EI) became known for describing this skill. Often referred to as “soft skills” or “people skills,” some think EI is simply being “touchy-feely.” However, EI is really the voice of reason.
EI is the ability to think, communicate, and interact rationally, respectfully, and objectively in difficult situations. It is the awareness and management of our own thoughts and feelings and those of others. It encompasses picking up on social cues through both verbal and non-verbal communication. It requires active empathy, compassion, and respect for others and for oneself.
According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, a person’s level of EI is a greater predictor of success than a person’s IQ. Enhancing and developing EI will also increase personal fulfillment and happiness since individuals are more aware of how their thoughts and feelings are affecting them and those around them. Awareness and questioning of one’s thoughts and feelings can lead to new insights and rich interpersonal relationships as well as improve one’s ability to manage stress. Unlike IQ, which is fairly fixed at birth, EI can be improved and learned.
What is your EQ?
EQ, or Emotional Quotient, is a standardized measurement of emotional intelligence. The BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory (BarOn EQi), developed by Reuven Bar-On, is the most well-known standardized test approved by the American Psychology Association. It evaluates self-perception, interpersonal relationships, decision-making, stress management, and self-expression.
Short self-evaluations developed by leadership consultants are also available, such as those included with the purchase of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves. Most EQ tests include a personalized report of results with recommendations for improving areas of EI weakness.
As technical professionals in safety and health, the ability to effectively interact with others is critical. If we actively improve our EI, it builds loyalty and trust with our customers. When customers trust the safety consultant, suggested safety improvements are more likely to be implemented and injured prevented.
So, the next time you brush up on your ergonomics or fall protection knowledge, take a little time to improve your emotional intelligence. There are many good resources on EI available. If you want to be really smart, take a short self-evaluation test and focus on improving your EQ score. You may be amazed at your results.