Reading the room is one of the most important abilities you can possess, irrespective of whether it’s in a business setting or not. So why does this ability seem like such a rarity?

I personally find this staggering!

I’m not sure I should be surprised, but with each subsequent observation or interaction I’m disheartened by the lack of general communication skills, and in particular the ability to listen that many of us have.

One of the most important skills I’ve learned over the course of my career has been the ability to “listen more and speak less”.

Do you have the ability to feel the underlying emotion in the room?  What’s being said, but more importantly what’s not being said that is influencing the general mood of the conversation.

It’s literally the elephant in the room you’re seeking…

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but a recent interaction I had with two colleagues at work was almost comical.  Each of the other two trying to talk over the top of each other with ever escalating emotions.

I endeavored to calm the situation and asked each to explain their point of view but no matter how much I tried one of the people just kept speaking over the top of the other person and eventually me.

When I tried to broach the subject later with them, they were dismissive at best…

Oi vey!

For someone in a perceived leadership position to be so autocratic and not have the ability to listen or take a step back emotionally to understand the bigger picture was staggering.

Perhaps it’s me but there were so many other paths with this conversation that could have led to a more success outcome.

Reading the room is just one aspect of the broader concept of emotional intelligence that I want to delve into.

To me emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills we can have as a human being, yet often neglected or overlooked.

It begins with self-awareness.  Understanding who you really are through your actions, thoughts, and emotions and how these line up with your personal values.

Without this awareness it’s impossible to align your values and the situation you find yourself in, before understanding the bigger picture then determining a path forward.

Do you have the ability or maturity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, nor modify your emotional state when required to de-escalate a situation?  How does what they’re saying balance against your beliefs and values?

The next most important aspect is empathy and compassion.  Do we have the ability to care for others, whether it’s your loved ones, friends, family, or perhaps complete strangers?

Can we feel their pain or anguish then take action to help alleviate it?

Interestingly, this topic can be dissected in many ways, some positive and others less so.

We need both parts to actually help the situation – both empathy (understanding) as well as compassion (taking action).

If we allow ourselves with only the empathetic portion, we open ourselves up to taking on the burden of the issue, and without any compassion we find ourselves stuck which can lead to mental health concerns.

It’s important, as it is with most things in life to find that balance.

Another aspect of emotional intelligence is a bi-product in terms of developing and building your emotional resilience.

Indeed, having the ability to let go of past mistakes and accept them for what they are allows us to move past these and support our overall self-confidence and self-acceptance, both of which are critical to our personal well-being.

I also find that people with high emotional intelligence tend to bounce back from setbacks and failures more easily.

They are also better an managing negative emotions and maintaining a positive mindset, all which contribute to their emotional resilience.

Each element that I’ve written about contribute to your emotional intelligence, of which the ability to read the room is just one small aspect.

I’m guessing that there will be some people who will never discover the value of emotionally intelligence.

That’s okay given that each of us is different in so many ways…

For me the travesty is not being open to learning more about yourself.

Personal growth and development combined with a level of maturity enables you to experience life differently.

Clearly, this does not mean conforming to what others expect or think of you but rather, becoming an independent thinker and follower of your own dreams, beliefs, and values.

Learning to stay open to the possibilities of a moment or situation is vital.

Developing each aspect of your emotional intelligence is all part of the journey, not a destination.

I expect that this will continue for me, and I fully embrace this path forward in my life.

As you know I like to share my point of view, and whether your embrace it, and reflect on it or disagree with it totally depends on you.

Healthy debate or conflict is okay, in fact it’s an important part of self determination.

However, what I’m hoping my essays do is provoke you to think about the topic as it relates to you and where you are in your life.

Sometimes it will resonate, other times not so much…

Until next week