Insights From Martha

Emotional Intelligence: Crucial for Lawyers

Emotionally intelligent (EQ) lawyers understand the impact their words and actions have on others. By that I mean they have the ability to manage their own emotions and non-verbal signals to make other people feel valued and respected.

For those of you who want to raise your EQ competency, here are 3 strategies to boost your emotional intelligence.

1. Become attuned to your own body language.

Being able to manage your own non-verbal signals as well as read other people’s body language is an important tool in developing strong EI. Your body talks. What is it saying?

  • Shoulders back and chin up I’m self-confident.
  • Arms unfolded— I’m open to what you are saying. You can trust me.
  • Hands on the table I am straightforward and honest.
  • Periodic head nodding I am listening and understand you.
  • When standing, feet pointed toward talker — I have time for you.

While it’s important to use the right words in a conversation, understanding how your body talks is crucial to effective communication.

2. Learn to judge the mood of the room.

Every room has emotional undercurrents created by the moods of the people in it. You can hear it in the tone of the conversations going on around you and see it in the faces and body language of others. Being able to gauge the mood of a social situation allows you to adjust your own mood upward or deliberately tone down your own exuberance so you won’t make everyone else uncomfortable.

Context is everything. Understanding the context of the situation you’re in will go a long way toward interpreting the people in it.

3. Be present and engaged.

Raising your emotional intelligence requires being present in the moment so you have the awareness to interact with other people in ways that show you are fully engaged and listening. Staying inside your own head, preoccupied with thoughts irrelevant to what is going on around you, makes you seem detached and self-involved. Pushing aside thoughts that have nothing to do with the present allows you to focus entirely on those around you and creates the accurate impression that you are more interested in them than you are in yourself.

Adapted from: Emotional Intelligence: How to Increase EQ, Interpersonal Skills, Communication Skills and Achieve Success by Thomas Richards