Lawyers are trained to analyze law and facts without regard to emotion. We’re often brought in to provide objective advice. But we’re increasingly aware that people skills are actually a key part of our success – before judges and juries, at the negotiation table, with colleagues and clients.
So what is emotional intelligence? According to Denise Perme, a manager of the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program: “Emotional intelligence is a set of skills, both social and emotional, that we tap into to better understand ourselves and others. We use these skills to attain awareness and information about our own emotions, to perceive the emotions of others, to communicate with people, to maintain relationships, and to deal with the stressors and challenges inherent in life. People who strengthen their emotional intelligence can use emotional information in a healthy and effective way, and they are more likely to succeed in their careers and personal lives.”
Importantly, emotional intelligence represents a skill set. And, like any other skills set EI can be learned. Read “Using Your Emotional Intelligence to Become a Better Lawyer” by Tim Wells in the DC Bar Association’s Washington Lawyer magazine for ways to incorporate EI into your work.