Tying EQ Into Technology

Balance and emotional intelligence (EQ) are the keys to using technology. If you are in conscious charge of your technological choices and activities, then you are mindfully choosing your life.

Humankind is by far the most creative species on planet Earth. From the first spear to the idea of the wheel to the Internet, what we invent is limited only by our ability to imagine what is not yet real. When one imagined thing becomes reality, that sparks innumerable ideas about what can come next. Fantastic!

Technology can be defined as an activity or innovation that forms or changes culture. Additionally, technology is the application of math, science, and the arts for the benefit of humankind and other. A modern example is the rise of communication technology, which has lessened barriers to human interaction. But therein lies the rub. The fabulous technological gains have far outpaced the progress made in enhancing our emotional intelligence in general and specifically in using such advances.

As I’ve worked in 44 countries to date, only about 5 percent of people respond knowingly to my question: “What is emotional intelligence or EQ?”

A big picture definition of EQ is that it covers the areas of our self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. At Bold New Directions, we call emotional intelligence “Life Intelligence.”

So how does EQ tie into technology? Well, since technology is meant to serve human beings and it is human beings who use technology, our capabilities to apply “Life Intelligence” to our use of technology directly influences how limited or expanded the results are. Because there are almost limitless forms of technology, for the sake of this discussion, let’s use the two common technological reference points of the Internet and smart phones. But please, as we go through the four EQ quadrants below, think about how these apply to your world and whatever technologies you use.

As we play with the four big picture areas of EQ, it is helpful to think of the first two—self-awareness and self-management—as being internal-to-you factors. You could be isolated on a desert island and these still would be active human being ingredients of your internal worlds. Whereas the next two—social awareness and relationship management—are in play (to various degrees) when we are in connection with others (whether in person or through any technological communication means) or anything else in our external worlds. For most people, the first two and the second two are constantly interrelating. But how effectively are we using the interactivity is the big question and equally large area of opportunity. Here’s a short peek into the four:

First, what is self-awareness? Or, what can we be self-aware about? The list is long, including awareness of our thoughts (an amazing 60,000 a day), feelings, body sensations, images, impulses, intuitions, strengths, weaknesses, and on and on.

For a technological example, I have a friend who is a self-admitting addict to online fantasy sports. Once they get started on any given day (in fact, every day, so they say), they lose themselves to the activity, and lose self-awareness. Their focus is outward and into the game. This lack of self-awareness is having serious consequences on their marriage.

Another increasingly common occurrence is seeing more and more people walking along absorbed in reading and writing e-mails or texting away furiously, lost in the activity and with probably very little self-awareness. People cross streets this way. If you lose self-awareness of where you are in space like this, the consequences can be fatal.

Question: When you are working with any form of technology, what is your state of self-awareness during the usage time?

What does it mean to “self-manage”? Basically, it is when you are intentionally in control. Here is where the four EQ areas begin to show their interrelationships. If you are not self-aware that you are thinking, feeling, or doing something (such as unmindfully crossing a busy street while in the unconscious habit of texting), how can you possibly change that behavior for better outcomes? All intentional change starts with self-awareness. Then you can look at options to manage any behavior, with any technology.

Question: What is your current ability level to use self-awareness to alert you that some current technological activity or habit would be better if changed, and then work at self-managing that behavior for your own success and well-being?

What is included in social awareness? Everything outside of yourself! This includes people, things, events… How does this relate to technology? Since technology (unless medical implants within your body) covers things and methods used externally by humans, increasing your awareness about how you are relating to these tools is the start toward seeing if you are using the tool or it is using you.

When my wife got her first smart phone, I observed her by using my social intelligence. She began to spend lots of time on the device, and while access to information, e-mail, etc., is helpful in this modern world, it also can be seductive. I did not want a smart phone to capture me; rather I wanted to be in a state where I was intentionally using it. It took me a full year before I felt I could handle the device sufficiently well to buy one.

Question: When you consciously observe your relationship with people and things such as technology, how often are you on automatic and how often are you truly present and mindfully making decisions to engage in that activity or not?

What is managing relationships? When you are self-aware and managing yourself, you are bringing a consciousness to your social interactions with people and things (technology). Without those three EQ elements, you are ill-equipped to manage your relationships with people and things in your life.

A few years ago, a friend told me a story related to managing relationships. Smart phones were the newest technology and her family members each had purchased one. Her revelation came one evening when she looked up at the dinner table from her smart phone to see that all six of them were actively using their devices and that they had stopped “being” with each other. She brought this social awareness to everyone’s attention, they laughed at the absurdity, and made a pact to not disengage when with each other by using even that wonderful technology. A time and place for everything.

A major change has occurred with people, technology, and managing relationships: Facebook is a prime example. The technology of connecting people almost anywhere on the planet has fabulous possibilities for uniting people. But I know of so many examples of people who now think their Facebook “friends” are real in such a way that being with others in person or even by the technology called phones has been all but abandoned. People are creating more isolation by spending many, many hours sitting by themselves in front of a computer monitor, smart phone, or tablet. While updating information (photos, facts, etc.) is valuable in relationship building and maintenance, technology can only go so far in bonding. Human qualities and the intangible energy that exists between people simply cannot be conveyed through Websites in a manner anywhere close to sitting down with friends and loved ones or at least talking with them via phone when distance is too great.

Question: Has communicating with people through the Internet begun to feel “real” to you? What happens when you step back and compare an hour on Facebook with an hour sharing a beverage at the kitchen table with a dear friend or two?

As with all of life, balance and emotional intelligence are the keys to using technology. If you are in conscious charge of your technological choices and activities, then you are mindfully choosing your life. If technology has begun to hold you captive, you might find a bit more fulfillment by realizing that and taking control of your interconnection—either on your own or with help from a training company.

Manager-leader specialist Jim Hornickel is the director of Training & Development at Bold New Directions. Along with a B.A. in Management, Hornickel’s professional experience includes 25 years as a manager-leader in several industries; life, leadership, and relationship coaching; and authoring books “Negotiating Success” and “Managing From The Inside Out (16 Insights for Building Positive Relationships With Staff).” For more information, visit www.managementtraininginstitute.com/home and www.boldnewdirections.com.