How to Improve One’s Current Level of Emotional Competence
As expressed by Fagbohungbe and Longe (1999) human beings are an indeed emotional organism who live under the assumption of rational and emotional stability. We tend to feel that we have all situations under control. But the fallacy of this generalized assumption soon become visible immediately we are confronted by emotion provoking stimulus, like a sudden bang, loss, failure, success and even collapse of the chair we sit on. Hence, we betray our emotions or our emotions betray us.
Emotion plays very important role in human lives. It is found in everyday activity of people. It could be exciting; it could be quieting and could be eruptive. Unfortunately, at the early part of industrialization, insignificant attention was given to human emotions at work. Rather, attention was given to physical variable perceived to have direct link with work performances. Managers of organization never bothered that the effect of a husband beating up is wife before the wife resumes at work could have more negative effect on her job performance than being denied promotion.
Today it has been realized that the human aspect i.e. the “person” in people, which translates to the psychological aspect of man, is as important (if not more important) as the physical variables in influencing his work behaviour.
1. Conceptualizing Emotion
There is no universal definition of emotion among psychologist some see as mere feelings, some construe it as something behavioural i.e. observable changes in behaviour, yet some emphasize its psychological basis connoting disruption that occurs within the structure of the body. But for this article let us adopt the definition by Morgan et.al (1979) who define emotion as a subjective feeling state, often accompanied by facial and bodily expressions and having arousing and motivating properties.
Its characteristic includes:
• It is complex in nature, that is, its process is not easily distinguishable
• It is sudden or spontaneous in occurrence
• It disrupts the activity of the body by changing its state
• It involves high level of arousal i.e. intense feeling
• It is triggered by specific external stimulus
• It is ‘person and situation specific i.e. individuals have different levels of emotional stability, varied experiences and operate within varied situations
• It derives from both hereditary and environmental sources
• It is observable, measurable and learnable
• It is influenced by past experiences
• It is accompanied by specific behavioural pattern
• When experienced, it produces pleasant and unpleasant effects
2. Emotional Competence
Emotions are integral and inseparable part of everyday organizational life. Therefore, people who work in industrial organizations must have high proficiency in emotional issues. This proficiency is what we referred to as emotional competence. To be emotional competent is to be less self-centred, has more self-control, has more stable emotions and. be less defensive.
3. Emotional Intelligence
It is important to highlight the relationship between emotional competence and emotional intelligence. Emotional competence derives from emotional intelligence. A person must first be emotionally intelligent which will in turn lead to becoming emotionally competent What is emotional intelligence? Simply put, emotional intelligence is a construct that reflects a person’s capacity to manage emotional responses in social situations. It depicts a person’s ability to:
• Perceive, appraise and express emotions
• Access and evoke emotions when they facilitate performance
• Comprehend emotional messages and to make use of emotional informations
• Regulate one’s own emotions to promote growth and wellbeing
Emotional intelligence therefore, bestows on those who have it at high levels the following skills
• Self-awareness skill-knowing one’s emotion
• Emotional Management skill-handling your own feelings and that of others
• Self-motivation skill-motivating oneself and others
• Empathy skill-recognizing emotion in others by putting oneself into other’s situation
• Social skill-handling relationships
4. How to Measure One’s Emotional Competence
Do you know your level of emotional competence? Let us seek for the answer in Bandura (2001) self-efficacy theory. The theory postulates that people belief in their capability to exercise some measure of control over their own functioning and over environmental events.
• The theory categorizes people into low self-efficacy and high-self-efficacy. The high-self-efficacious people are usually more successful in whatever they do than the low self-efficacious people. Therefore, if you belong to high self-efficacious class, automatically you will have high emotional competence
• Responsiveness of the environment: the environment contributes to people’s emotional competence. There are two types of environments, the responsive versus the unresponsive environments. When high self-efficacy combines with high responsive environment, a high emotional competence is the outcome
• Emotional competence is measured using proxy agency. Proxy Agency are those other people who indirectly contribute the success of whatever you are doing? This is simply relying on others to get things done. You can measure your emotional competence using proxy agency.
5. Sustaining Emotional Competence
o Mastering experiences: gathering past experiences from past performances
o Social modelling-vicarious experiences provided by ethers
o Social persuasion-which could be encouraging or discouraging
o Physical and emotional state: strong emotion such as intense fear, acute anxiety and high level of stress, could lower a person’s emotional competence
6. Improving Identified Emotional Deficiencies: Self- Regulation
When people have high level of self-efficacy, are confident on their reliance on proxies, and imbibe the social values of their society, they will develop high emotional competence. Individual emotional competence level can be improved upon, especially workers with low emotional competence which could be in any of the five skill areas (self-awareness, motivation, emotional management, empathy and social skill). Therefore, carrying out the following activities can help to improve people’s emotional competence
• Access the requirements of jobs in terms of emotional skills
• Access individual to identify their level of emotional competence
• Measure individual’s readiness for improvement
• Motivate people to believe that the learning experience will be beneficial to them
• Make changes self-direct
• Focus on clear manageable specific skills
• Give performance feedback
• Encourage practice, since emotional competence cannot be improved over night
• Provide models of desired behaviours
• Encourage and reinforce-create environment that reward self-improvement
• Evaluate-establish standard and assess performance against them
Realizing that work behaviours of people are influenced by their emotional state, it has become imperative that workers generally should acquire the skill to identify, manage and improve their emotional competencies.