How Emotionally Intelligent are You?

We are back with our latest Sales Tax Institute Book Club recap. Our most recent book was Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Emotional intelligence is an essential aspect of everyone’s life, whether in the personal or professional realm, so let’s dive right in! 


What factors determine my emotional intelligence? 

If you work in sales tax, your mind probably prefers concrete definitions. So, you might hear the term emotional intelligence and think to yourself… “I hear this term being thrown around, but what really is it? And how can I gauge it?”  

Emotional Intelligence defines the term in depth with a plethora of real-life examples. While we won’t cover it all here, here’s what it boils down to… 

  1. Emotional self-awareness:
    This refers to your ability to recognize and acknowledge your own emotions. To take it one step further, this also refers to your ability to understand the why behind your feeling. What caused me to feel this right now?
  2. Managing emotions:
    While humans cannot prevent themselves from feeling certain emotions, you can manage your emotions. For example, if you have a pressing question and cannot get ahold of a state’s Department of Revenue, you could call them and leave a nasty message. But using emotional intelligence, instead you take a deep breath and calmly look for another solution. By managing your emotions, you can express less aggressive and less self-destructive behavior, and instead express anger more appropriately.
  3. Harnessing emotions productively:
    Not only can you stop yourself from reacting poorly to situations by managing your emotions, but you can also harness particular emotions to result in self-motivation. For example, if you’re having a hard time with your day-to-day sales tax tasks, you can use that feeling and turn it into motivation to create a better process for your company. In this situation, you recognized the negativity you were feeling, and you found a way to make it better.
  4. Empathy:
    Some people understand their own emotions and stop there. Emotional intelligence encompasses internal emotions, but it also includes your ability to read others’ emotions. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Recognizing emotions in others is the first step to building relationships.
  5. Handling relationships:
    Relationships are an essential part of human life, and they are always dependent on the ability to understand how one another feels. Emotional intelligence leads to more cooperation and sharing, and it makes you better at solving problems that are bound to come up in all relationships. 

Now that you understand what determines emotional intelligence, let’s uncover how it affects your life at work. 



Does my emotional intelligence matter at work? 

It’s often debated which is more important: IQ or EQ. Particularly in a professional setting, some might argue that IQ is all that matters. They are mistaken… 

The ability to understand one another’s emotions at work is a crucial determining factor for productivity and success. A more positive work environment where everyone feels cared for will have the best results.  

Emotional Intelligence describes three of the major differences that emotional intelligence makes at work as “the ability to air grievances as helpful critiques, dealing with diversity, and organizational savvy.”  

First, providing constructive criticism is essential to a successful business, but there are many ways it can go wrong. Employees must use their emotional intelligence to handle their relationships and provide criticism in a non-disruptive manner. Keep in mind that 90 percent of an emotional message is expressed nonverbally (tone, body language, etc.).  

Second, using your emotional intelligence, particularly empathy, when dealing with people of different identities is essential. Not everyone experiences situations in the same way.  

Third, everyone has different emotional capabilities, and they should be placed in positions that are best suited for them. For example, a leader needs high emotional intelligence because they have relationships with all employees. Emotional intelligence needs to be displayed from the top down. Those with the ability to move other people’s feelings are the most influential leaders. Leadership is not dominating employees, but it is the art of persuading employees to work together towards a common goal.  



Quick Takeaways from Our Team 

Here are some random but essential takeaways that our team had after reading this book: 

  1. Timing is everything:
    Before acting/reacting, imagine a traffic light (with red, yellow, and green lights). Stop yourself from acting on your immediate response (red). Take time to formulate your best plan of action (yellow). Ask yourself, when I say this, is it valuable? How will others receive it? And finally, move forward with your well thought out decision (green).
  2. Beware of emotional overwhelm:
    Most of us have experienced a state of emotional overwhelm. When you’re experiencing such intense emotions, sometimes multiple emotions at once, you may enter a shutdown state. This is your body having a natural reaction to the intensity of your emotions. However, you can recognize the signs of this in yourself and learn to prevent and bring yourself out of this state.
  3. Make the most of your emotions:
    Oftentimes humans experience multiple emotions at one time. To an extent, it is up to us to pick and choose which emotion to prioritize. Try to identify the emotion that is the most useful to you in that moment. For example, you might be exhausted on a Friday afternoon, but you’re excited that it’s almost the weekend. If your boss schedules a 3PM meeting, instead of being cranky about it, choose to feel the excitement for the weekend. Tell yourself that after this meeting, you’re free for the next two days!  


We recommend Emotional Intelligence to anyone who’s looking to learn about emotional intelligence in a scientific, fact and example-based format. If you have thoughts on Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, email us here! Next, the Sales Tax Institute will take on Hello, Fears: Crush Your Comfort Zone and Become Who You’re Meant to Be by Michelle Poler. We would love to have you join us on our next journey. We encourage you to support your independent local bookstores. Our neighborhood bookstore is Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in historic Printer’s Row Chicago. Join us and support your own favorite local store! 

Posted on January 23, 2024