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emotional intelligence lawyersThe ability to control your own emotions during tough conversations, emotional exchanges or high stakes situations and react well to the emotional reactions of others are skills that set great leaders apart from ineffective, mediocre ones. If you already have this ability, you have a high degree of emotional intelligence. If you do not, and you want to be an effective leader and manager of people, developing emotional intelligence (EI) should be a priority on your professional development plan.

We now know that your intellectual and analytical expertise are not the only aptitudes necessary to produce top performance in leadership roles. Relational skills, being able to manage your own emotions, are just as important.

What does it take to be emotionally intelligent?

In 1990, Yale researchers John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey published the first formal definition of emotional intelligence (EI). Their research concluded that a combination of sharp thinking and emotional control produce the most sophisticated analyses and decision making. Their findings were later cited in the 1995 best-seller, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman.

EI involves:

  • Recognizing your own and others’ emotions.
  • Accessing the appropriate emotions at the appropriate time.
  • Understanding how emotions affect behavior.
  • Knowing the best strategies for managing emotional situations.

EI is not a personality trait. It’s a cultivated ability that enables you to build strong, loyal relationships, and to listen skillfully to what people are saying — even when it’s criticism — and respond rationally.

Emotional Intelligence inside Law Firms

Emotionally intelligent lawyers connect with clients, lead their teams well, and promote themselves and their law firms. With competition for clients getting stiffer by the day, the amount of EI a law firm has at the top could determine which firm thrives and which languishes.


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