AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum | January/February 2016 | Volume 20, Number 3

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 | AALL SPECTRUM 29 I read somewhere that organizations hire people for their hard skills, but they end up firing people for their lack of so skills. As a law library person- nel manager, this statement resonates with me. So, what are these hard and so skills? Hard skills are technical abilities, factual knowledge, special- ized talents, and education. ese are the things people learn in school or in technical job training. ey are also aptitudes developed through work experience, study, or practice. Legal research skill is a good example of a hard skill. So skills are the skills that allow you to use your technical abilities and knowledge effectively in the work- place. ey include personal, social, communication, and self-management behaviors. Attempts to define so skills are all over the web, and they can vary widely. However, most would agree that so skills include self-awareness, conscientiousness, adaptability, critical thinking, attitude, initiative, empathy, self-control, organizational awareness, leadership, time management, political savvy, likability, and persuasive ability. To sum it all up, a person who has a mastery of so skills can be defined as being emotionally intelligent. e best definition of emotional intelligence that I have found is from Jack G. Montgomery of Western Kentucky University. He says that emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, informa- tion, and influence. I love this definition because it acknowledges the very important, appropriate, and positive role that emotions can play. All of my life I have been called emotional, hypersensitive, or tenderhearted in ways that implied weakness or negativity. I firmly believe the more we are in touch with our emotions, the more we understand their origins, the more we sense these emotions in others, and the more we can appropriately express our emotions (even in the workplace), the better we are as employees. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, breaks down emotional intelligence skills into five basic parts: self-awareness, self-management, self-motivation, empathy, and social skills. Assessing yourself in each of these areas requires honesty and forgiveness as the journey is both hum- bling and enlightening. Below I share some frank self-assessments that led me to my breakthrough moments. Self-Awareness Self-awareness is one of the most important and fundamental compo- nents of emotional intelligence. Being self-aware means knowing what you are feeling and why, it means knowing what you are good at and what you are not good at, it means knowing what others think about you, and it means really knowing who you are. Self-awareness is essential because when you know yourself and your feelings, you are better equipped to correctly interpret (and avoid misinterpreting) your sur- roundings and your coworkers. It helps you avoid the petty misunderstandings based on misperceptions that plague many workplaces. Self-awareness allows you to form appropriate and helpful verbal and non-verbal responses to people or situations. Acquiring a level of self-awareness about my own insecurities and biases has helped me to become a better employee, a better manager, and a better person. Embarrassingly, because of my own personal history, I have discovered that I oen have a visceral negative reaction to large, tall, white men. is negative reaction is even more intense if these men are older and somewhat bois- terous. is reaction can cause me to form negative opinions, act less friendly, not engage in conversation, and ulti- mately impede productive relationships. As I began thinking more about these interactions, I developed the capacity to recognize when I am having these negative feelings and to examine them in real time. I recall vividly the first time I paused during an interaction with a tall, white man to examine my negative feelings. I recall thinking to myself: (1) this guy is being perfectly nice and friendly to me, (2) these negative feelings have no rational basis, (3) this must be my own unconscious bias at work, and (4) I will not be ruled by bias. I was able to take charge of my actions and not let them be dictated by negative feelings that have no basis in my conscious reality. I was able to interact in more friendly and appropriate ways with a whole set of perfectly wonderful people with whom I firmly believe the more we are in touch with our emotions ... the more we sense these emotions in others … and the more we can appropriately express our emotions … the better we are as employees. AALL2go EXTRA Watch Jack G. Montgomery's "Soft Skills: Professional Indicators of Success" webinar at bit.ly/AALL2go0115. READ Dr. Marcia Reynolds's blog post "10 Signs You Are Not Using Your Emotional Intelligence" at bit.ly/10SignsNoEQ and don't miss her article "Grow Where You Are" on page 32. LEARN MORE Read Huron Consulting's white paper, "Emotional Intelligence: What Can Learned Lawyers Learn from the Less Learned?" at bit.ly/JF16HuronEQ. Images © iStock.com./Leolintang/RawPixel Ltd./Angel1978.

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