Emotional Intelligence ≠ "Being Nice"

Many of us believe that having emotional intelligence means being “nice.” But this belief conceals some fundamental benefits to developing one’s EI.

For example, simply saying someone is nice can belie the fact that they’re only nice to some people and not others. Niceness is also interpreted as someone who tries to avoid confrontations and is thus easily manipulable.

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They are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

None of these is aligned with “niceness.” In fact, being skilled in each of the four components of emotional intelligence would allow you to have confrontations when you need to, and to do it more strategically and productively.

  • Strong self-awareness and self-management would let you control your initial impulses or any anxiety you might have around a hard conversation.
  • A highly developed sense of empathy (part of social awareness) would allow you see the situation from the other person’s point of view.
  • Handling conflict is an important part of relationship management. You’d say what you have to say, clearly and strongly, and in a way the other person can hear.
  • Cognitive: "I know how you think."
  • Emotional: "I know how you feel."
  • Empathetic concern: "I care about you."

They reside in different parts of the brain:

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