#293: How to Lead with Emotional Intelligence Skills and Vocabulary

Nov 8, 2023 | Business Professional English, Leadership Communication

If you are

  • preparing for a job interview
  • leading a team
  • managing conflict resolution
  • leveling up your leadership skills
  • working to improve personal/professional relationships
  • seeking personal growth

Then boosting your emotional intelligence skills AND having the vocabulary for discussions on emotional intelligence in English are critical.

Not only is emotional intelligence a hot topic of conversation at work, but it’s also a common focus of training programs.

In this Confident English lesson, you will expand your English vocabulary with keywords used to discuss emotional intelligence. 

Developing the language to talk about emotional intelligence (EI) will help you to better understand, express, and apply EI concepts in both personal and professional settings.

Along the way, you’ll learn exactly what emotional intelligence is, why it’s so important, and how to enhance your own emotional intelligence skills for the workplace.

Plus, if you missed it, I also have a lesson on how to talk about your emotional intelligence skills in a job interview.


How to Lead in English | Emotional Intelligence Skills and Vocabulary

What Is EQ?

First, if you’re not sure, Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is your ability to recognize, understand, manage, and effectively use your emotions as well as the emotions of others. 

It is considered a critical skill in the workplace.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence So Important?

A high EQ demonstrates a strong ability to understand and manage emotions, both yours and others, effectively.

This allows you to foster positive relationships, teamwork, and effective communication at work and in other areas of your life.

These improvements can ultimately lead to better performance, greater overall well-being, and a harmonious environment at home and at work. 

The 5 Core Elements of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence consists of 5 core elements. These include:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Social skills
  • Empathy
  • Motivation

In today’s lesson, we’ll explore each of these elements in depth, identifying key vocabulary and strategies that will help you level up your EQ at work and in life.

Element #1: Self-awareness

A key indicator of a high EQ is acute self-awareness

  • Def: knowing and understanding your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values.

Increased self-awareness leads to better decision-making and a greater understanding of our self-perception which can lead to improved relationships with ourselves and with others.

  • Def: the way one views oneself


Scenario #1: Imagine a colleague criticizes a passion project and you get defensive or feel upset.

  • Def: protective or ready to protect against an attack 

Rather than immediately project the defensiveness, you can focus on naming the emotion and recognizing the true root cause.

To do this you could ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling right now?
  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • Is this emotion a reaction to what was said or what was done? 
  • What is causing me to feel this way?

By doing this you allow yourself to navigate through the negative emotions of the moment, understand that the root cause was your attachment, and remain open to feedback. 

Moreover, you protect the integrity of your relationship with your colleague.


To recognize and understand your emotional reactions, engage in activities that promote self-reflection and self-assessment.

This can be through journaling your emotions, seeking honest feedback from a trusted friend or family member, or even practicing mindfulness to truly hone in on your emotions. 

  • Def: to find or reach something in a sharp way

Element #2: Self-regulation

Second, self-regulation or self-management is also an essential component of EQ. 

  • Def: the ability to control and manage one’s emotions, impulses, and behavior, especially in challenging situations. 

In essence, self-regulation indicates the strength of your self-control, impulses, and ability to adapt – especially, under stress.

  • Def: a sudden strong wish to do something 


Here’s a typical situation:

Scenario #2: Imagine it’s a super busy period at work, you’re swamped with tasks, and your deadlines are fast approaching. 

To self-regulate you may turn to some common coping mechanisms

  • Def: strategies that help people deal with stress and uncomfortable moments. 

For instance, in this case, you may focus on taking deep breaths, dividing your tasks into small chunks, and taking a step back when you notice yourself becoming overwhelmed.

This course of action highlights an ability to overcome setbacks through self-regulation techniques and allows you to maintain a positive performance, especially when working on a team with others.  



Aside from breathwork, healthy exercise, diet, and sleep routines can also make self-regulation more accessible. 

Most importantly, identifying your triggers and finding ways to manage them can also increase self-regulation. 

Def: situations or events that tend to provoke strong and negative emotional reactions

Element #3: Social Skills

Irrefutably, the third most important element, and one that every workplace looks for, is social skills

  • Def: the capacity or extent to which one can communicate, collaborate, and build positive relationships with others.

Social skills are necessary for teamwork, conflict resolution, and maintaining healthy interactions. Most importantly, it helps to promote a positive atmosphere. 


Scenario #3: Imagine you’re collaborating on a project and there’s a disagreement between you and a team member on the allocation of funds.

Instead of saying, “This is reckless and I think outsourcing some of our services could be a waste of money.”

You could say, “I understand your point of view. In my opinion, I think it’s important to limit our expenses so we can use the funds to enhance our clients’ experience through us, rather than through a third party.

This response does the following:

  • it facilitates a productive discussion;
  • remains objective;
  • respects the other person’s perspective;
  • and, guides everyone toward a consensus without escalating tension.



To strengthen your social skills, focus on:

Element #4: Empathy

Practicing empathy to understand all perspectives;

  • Def: the ability to identify with or understand another’s situation or feelings

In brief, it’s your ability to put yourself in another’s shoes

  • Def: to make an effort to imagine how you would feel or act if you were in the same situation as a particular person

Empathy is a sign of compassion, your investment in your professional and personal relationships, and your ability to resolve conflicts peacefully.


Scenario #4: Imagine a junior colleague is visibly upset due to a mistake they made at work.

There are three steps you can take to show empathy and handle the situation. 

  1. To start, ask how they’re feeling and encourage them to share why. 
  2. Then, focus on actively listening. In this situation, it’s important to understand and acknowledge their feelings.

Finally, to help them overcome the setback, offer your support or advice based on the situation. You could also share your personal experience and tips on how you avoid the same mistakes.



In addition to the strategies to practice social skills, you could practice asking specific open-ended questions to strengthen your ability to show empathy.  

  • Def: questions that allow one to answer based on one’s knowledge and experience, rather than a simple “yes” or “no.”

Rather than “Are you ok?

You could ask more open-ended questions like, “How are you feeling?

“How did this situation make you feel?”

“What are you thinking and feeling right now?”

Element #5: Motivation

Lastly, the fifth indicator of EQ, and one that is highly valued in both personal and professional development, is motivation.

  • Def: the drive to set and achieve personal and professional goals, even when facing obstacles.

Motivation propels individuals to succeed, persevere, and continuously improve.


Scenario #5: Perhaps, your weakness is public speaking. Rather than simply repeating what you normally do to practice, you could:

  • Set realistic goals
  • Seek feedback from someone you trust 
  • Research resources to help you strengthen your speaking skills
  • And, commit to consistently practicing your skills.

Though you might have some setbacks and feel nervous, persistent practice can help you maintain your motivation and reach your goals faster. 

  • Def: to continue to do something or try to do something, repetitively, in a determined manner.



How can you stay motivated?

Consider dividing large goals into manageable tasks to maintain a sense of accomplishment along the way.

The more reasonable and straightforward our goals are, the easier they are to attain. 

Practice/Discuss What You Learned

Share what you’ve learned and aim to use some of the key concepts + vocabulary on emotional intelligence.

To help you do that, here is a 3-step process to follow:

  1. Think back to when you first started working in your current role.
  2. If you were the senior colleague to your younger self, how might you explain emotional intelligence and its importance to him/her? 
  3. Use 2-3 words from today’s lesson to help you craft your explanation.

As always, you can share your comments and questions with me below. (I’ll also share the answers to questions 1-3 in the comments below.)

~ Annemarie

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