Speaking is the Ultimate Expression of Emotional Intelligence

Young, impressionable, and ambitious, when working in recruitment and consulting in 1998 I stumbled on Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence and instantly felt he had unlocked the mysteries to building great places of work.

I became obsessed, and over the next three years became accredited in as many EI and EQ assessment tools as I possibly could, taking each accreditation as far as possible without actually being a qualified and licenced psychologist.

That world was vastly different. Even when EI caught your attention as a concept, you were still caught in a world of change, fighting sometimes to bring understanding to the shift from IQ to EQ and EI and just how critical it was in creating great spaces to work, live and play in the future.

Now, Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Competence spill out of our mouths as easily as ‘do you want me to grab a coffee?’ and our attention has shifted to the next coming intelligence – Artificial Intelligence, and its impact on leadership, the way we work, and the way we interact with the world around us.

Google ‘The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on work’ and Dr Google will deliver 157,000,000 search results in less than a second. Google ‘The impact of Artificial Intelligence on Leadership’ and the good Dr will bring you back more than 25,000,000 search results.

Skim, read, or deep dive; consume the articles written and participate in the conversations and you will see the consensus which has rapidly formed – from high performance organisations, defence, researchers, thought leaders, practitioners in the space, and commentators on the future of leadership and of work – AI and everything it brings with it means there is one intelligence that will become critical in navigating the world unfolding before us:

Emotional Intelligence. 

The ability to develop a deep level of self-awareness, to be aware of others emotions, and to bring that information together in a powerful way to navigate and manage both the relationship you hold with yourself, and the relationships you hold with others.

But how do we see who is emotionally intelligent, who isn’t, and who is still building the muscle of emotional intelligence?

It is in how they speak.

Through the words they use. The way their articulate their message. The ability to build a picture in someone else’s mind, to distil a vision, a way of thinking.

The ability to wrap us up in the dramatic, the unacceptable, in hope and possibility, to challenge us to think and act differently. To inspire, to coach and to mentor.

It is the ability to rapidly assess when in crisis, to identify where we stand right now, the possibilities before us, and to articulate the solution – rapidly.

It is the ability to use our words to instil confidence, to destroy belief, to create consensus, and to build momentum. 

It is in how we craft our ability to influence, to dissolve conflict, to lead the people surrounding us through adaptive change.

It is how the great speakers and orators transport us to an alternate reality, a world of possibility, where we fall in love with both people and message – or choose to exit stage right.

The great speakers and orators understand they are the curators of the greatest emotional incubators in the world… the places where people gather to listen, be told, inspired, find answers, unlock courage and hope.

It is in how they:

  • Create connection through story, weaving empathy, similarity and familiarity into their messages
  • Take a vision and recreate it in the minds of their audience through the words they use, their flow, and the charisma with which they deliver it.
  • Understand the privilege of the platform, the opportunity to impact lives, to serve in creating a better world – starting as the individual, then causing a ripple effect of global impact.
  • Deeply understand the responsibility they hold for the emotional state of the room in front of them, being completely aware of the power they have to create an environment of their choosing.
  • Articulate messages which are digestible, which wrap all of us up, and allow them to enter someone else’s world with empathy.
  • Use their words with volition and on purpose, to navigate their own path. And in doing so, create a path which their audience can easily follow should they choose to.

The greatest speakers and orators – on any stage in any room – have spent the time honing their craft.

It is far beyond crafting great content and building, it is:

  • A high level of emotional self-awareness and its impact
  • Striving to bring emotional balance, to speak with strength and grace
  • Holding a deep understanding that even when raw they must deliver a level of hope and insight
  • Building sensory acuity to be able to adapt to environment and nuances rapidly to deliver consistency
  • Infusing everything they do with incremental improvement, to push through to the next level
  • Building empathy, rapport, understanding, and relatability rapidly through the words they use
  • Understanding the power of influence, and the opportunities to educate and coach in the moment
  • Knowing when to inspire, to agitate, to instigate, to ignite and how to do it with strength and grace

They are emotionally intelligent, and it shows in the way that they speak.