Martha McIntire Newman 2017-11-22 22:39:27
Your High IQ Is Not Enough Develop your emotional intelligence to ensure success. High IQs enable us to be competent— even brilliant—lawyers, but ultimately those of us who succeed in building lucrative law practices, winning lawsuits, and gaining influence with clients and colleagues have developed a second form of intelligence called emotional intelligence, or EQ, which is the ability to identify and manage our own emotions when tension and conflict threaten our composure. According to EQ expert Daniel Goleman, author of the seminal book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, “while cognitive ability is a reasonable predictor of career success, evidence suggests that beyond a certain level of IQ, increasingly high levels of IQ do not correlate with increased success. Instead, the skills which make up emotional intelligence have more of an impact on success.” Benefits of High EQ If you have high EQ, you are better prepared to persuade, negotiate, and stay composed under pressure. Furthermore, in an article on EQ in the American Bar Association’s GPSolo Magazine (Vol. 34, No. 4), author Cedric Ashley refers to research showing that if your EQ is high, you will earn about 33 percent more over your career than lawyers who rely only on their IQs and their legal skills to succeed. Because composure is the hallmark of great leaders, developing your emotional intelligence also equips you for a leadership role in your law firm and positions of influence in your community. What Is Your EQ? How do you know if you need to strengthen your emotional intelligence? • Are you visibly irritated by stupid remarks or challenging behavior? • Do you get impatient easily? • Are you defensive when criticized? • Do you react angrily when someone is rude or upset with you? • Do you let clients or other lawyers get under your skin? You may be thinking to yourself, Yes, I do some of those things, but, that’s me. It’s too late to change. You are mistaken. Your intellect and determination equip you to self-manage if you decide emotional control is in your best interest— and it is. Lawyers with well-developed emotional intelligence make wiser day-to-day decisions about everything from the best legal strategies for their clients to how to get new clients. Why? Because maintaining your composure enables you to use emotion strategically rather than reactively. EQ Keeps You Cool When an opponent tries to provoke you, and you have habitually reacted with anger or strident comments, high EQ gives you awareness at that moment of your rising emotion and enables you to exercise restraint, demonstrating strength to your adversary and allowing you to calculate your response rationally without the distraction of emotion. Developing awareness of your own hot buttons positions you to choose your reactions rather than be manipulated or goaded by your opponent into losing your cool or responding imprudently. When you are cognizant of your own emotions, you also become more tuned-in to the feelings of your clients. You empathize with your clients’ feelings, and that understanding allows you to establish the rapport necessary to build strong client relationships. Your practice will grow as prospective clients and referral sources gravitate to you because they trust your calm judgment and appreciate your genuine concern for their problems. How to Build Up Your EQ If you want to strengthen your EQ, here are some ways Goleman recommends increasing it. 1) Practice identifying your emotions and their root causes. Anger often stems from frustration and self-doubt; defensiveness from fear. Develop awareness of emotional thinking so you can manage it. 2) Work on governing your feelings to avoid destructive communication that sparks unnecessary conflict and causes offense. Ask yourself which feelings are appropriate to express in a volatile situation and which are better left unsaid or saved for later. 3) Deepen your connections with your clients. Learn to empathize, to let your clients and prospects talk about their feelings, to listen patiently, and to calm yourself down before speaking or making a decision. How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? You can find out the strength of your EQ by taking EQ assessments available online at a moderate cost. The EQ-i 2.0 by Multi-Health Systems and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by TalentSmart identify unproductive behaviors caused by low EQ that hold you back and pinpoint the EQ strategies that will enhance your emotional intelligence the most. Other assessments that are free include: • psychologytoday.com • mindtools.com • ihhp.com As lawyers with strong cognitive abilities, we can take control of our emotions and make choices governed by reason rather than cede emotional control to our adversaries. Growing your emotional intelligence bolsters the likelihood of your professional and financial success. Begin developing it now. MARTHA MCINTIRE NEWMAN is a former oil and gas litigator and owner of Top Lawyer Coach. Newman has been awarded the Professional Certified Coach credential by the International Coach Federation in recognition of her coaching excellence. She specializes in lawyer coaching, training, facilitating, and speaking in the areas of business development, emotional intelligence, career advancement, leadership, and law firm management. For more information, go to toplawyercoach.com.
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