Stephen Covey on Developing Emotional Intelligence


Developing Emotional Intelligence

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” — Oscar Wilde

Emotional Intelligence is essentially an ability, capacity, or skill to assess, manage, and regulate the emotions of yourself and others.

Why is emotional intelligence such a big deal? …

A Lack of Emotional Intelligence, Limits You In Life

If you can’t manage your emotions, you crumble or snap under stress. If you can’t manage your emotions, you can’t motivate or inspire yourself effectively to do the things you need to do.  If you can’t manage your emotions, you can’t use your best thinking.

You get stuck in your lizard brain, and cut off from your ability to respond more effectively when it counts.

If you can’t tune into others’ emotions and demonstrate empathy, you’ll have a hard time connecting with others.  You’ll have a hard time creating rapport.  If you can’t see and feel the emotions of others, then you’ll have a hard time influencing or leading others effectively.  As a manager, you’ll be the pointy-haired boss.

Emotional Intelligence is a Big Deal

Yeah, emotional intelligence is a big deal.

It’s a key for leaders and it’s a key for leadership.  Whether it’s self-leadership, or leading others, emotional intelligence picks up where other intelligence leaves off.  To put it another way …

“”No one cares how much you know until they first know how much you care about them.” (See The Only Management Strategy You’ll Ever Need)

In the book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey acknowledges that there’s a lack of literature on how to develop emotional intelligence, and shares an approach for how to develop emotional intelligence using the 7 Habits.

The 5 Primary Components of Emotional Intelligence

Stephen Covey shares the five primary components of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness — The ability to reflect on one’s own life, grow in self-knowledge, and use that knowledge to improve onseself and either consume or compentsate for weaknesses.
  2. Personal Motivation — What really excites people — the vision, values, goals, hopes, desires, and passion that make up their priorities.
  3. Self-Regulation — The ability to manage onseself twoard achieving one’s vision and values.
  4. Empathy — The ability to see how other people see and feel about things.
  5. Social Skills — How people resolve differences, solve problems, produce creative solutions, and interact optimally to further their joint purposes.

The 7 Habits and Principles

According to Stephen Covey, here is a simple look at the 7 Habits and the principles that they encapsulate:

Habit Principle
Habit 1 – Be Proactive Responsibility / Initiative
Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind Vision / Values
Habit 3 – Put First Things First Integrity / Execution
Habit 4 – Think Win-Win Mutual Respect / Benefit
Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood Mutual Understanding
Habit 6 – Synergize Creative Cooperation
Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw Renewal

Developing Emotional Intelligence Using the 7 Habits

Stephen Covey shares an approach to developing emotional intelligence using the 7 Habits outlines above:

Emotional Intelligence Component Habit
Self-Awareness Habit 1 – Be Proactive
Personal Motivation Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind
Self-Regulation Habit 3 – Put First Things First
Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw
Empathy Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Social Skills Habit 4 – Think Win-Win
Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Habit 6 – Synergize

Practicing Your Emotional Intelligence with the 7 Habits

Here is a brief summary of how Stephen Covey says you can practice the 7 Habits to develop your emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness – Covey says, “You are aware of the space between stimulus and response, you’re aware of your genetic, biological inheritance, your upbringing, and the environmental forces around you. … You  sense you are or can become the creative force of your own life.  This is your most fundamental decision.” Practice Habit 1 – Be Proactive.
  2. Personal Motivation – Covey says, “… decide what your highest priorities, goals, and values are. … This decision to direct your own life is your primary decision.” Practice Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.
  3. Self-Regulation – Covey says, “ … once you decide what your priorities are, then you live by them; it is the habit of integrity, the habit of self-mastery, of doing what you intend to do; of living your values.  Then constantly renew yourself.  Execution strategies and tactical decisions are your secondary decisions.” Practice Habit 3 – Put First Things First and Habit 7 – Sharpen the Saw.
  4. Empathy – Covey says, “It’s learning to transcend your own autobiography  and get into the head and hearts of other people.  It’s becoming socially sensitive and aware of the situation before attempting to be understood, influence others, or make decisions or judgments.” Practice Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
  5. Social Communication Skills – Covey says, “You think in terms of mutual benefit and mutual respect, you strive for mutual understanding in order to have creative cooperation.” Practice Habit 4 – Think Win-Win, Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, and Habit 6 – Synergize.

One simple way you can practice each day is when you are talking.  See if you can echo back what you hear the other person say, in a way that they “feel” heard.  This is a big deal.  It’s not listening until you think you’ve heard them … it’s listening in a way where they *feel* you’ve heard them.

The difference, is all the difference.  That’s what this is about.

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  1. A bit heavy yet when applied one at a time very powerful. For me to lower the entry bar I applied simple EQ technique – Park – just pausing for a moment and not doing nothing, that saved me many time. Then reflecting on my highest pri’s as in Personal Motivation as described in your post.

  2. Hi JD, I like the five components.

    Unfortunately a lot of what passes for “emotional intelligence” is just becoming a better neurotic (just more being unkind to ourselves).

    Like you I think Covey was great

  3. @ Evan — Yes, skill does make the difference with emotional intelligence.

    Covey was an inspirational force for me, and when I think of personal effectiveness, I think of Stephen Covey.

  4. JD, thanks for the repeated reminder of what listening really is; that you are really listening when others feel you have heard them. I’m finding it so critical this week.

  5. @ Aaron — It’s amazing how a little twist can really change the game.

    What really clicked for me was when Covey told me two things:
    1. Empathic listening is the #1 most important communication skill.
    2. You need to listen until the other person *feels* heard.

    The idea of checking whether the other person *feels* you heard them is so simple, yet so profoundly effective.

    What was cool about Covey was when you talked with him, you felt he was listening at another level. I’ve tried to mirror that, but it takes practice. The best thing I can do is replay back to somebody what I heard them say … it’s a great check.

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  12. Hi JD,

    This is an excellent post on Emotional Intelligence. Thanks so much:) What I have learned is that by practicing the tips given in your post on Emotional Intelligence, you will see positive changes in your attitude.

    To Your Success,

    Stacie Walker

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