By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations
I had never really given any thought to whether I am an emotionally intelligent person or not. That is, until last month, probably, and then again about three days ago. I mean, I am an intelligent person—bright even!—and I am also an emotional being when my rational side, which used to be dominant, steps aside to “allow” my emotional self to express itself. But, for the last month and a half or so, the term “Emotional Intelligence” has caught my attention, bringing me to ask myself whether I am an emotionally intelligent person or not.
What happened within the last month and a half that made me come to such a question? First of all, I received the August edition of the ATA Chronicle Magazine, where there was an article about emotional intelligence and how it could apply to translators. Then, three days ago, I received an e-newsletter from a marketing company where emotional intelligence was once again mentioned, an e-newsletter where a list of “Tell-Tale Signs” was provided in order to help the reader determine whether or not he or she was emotionally intelligent.
The article in the ATA Magazine focused mainly on self-assessment; that is, on guidelines that allow a translator, or any other person for that matter, to go down a list of ways to discover whether he or she is emotionally intelligent or not, and then decide what to do in order to become more emotionally intelligent, and apply such results to his or her own work. The marketing article describing the “Tell-Tale Signs” of an emotionally intelligent person also included a list of “common qualities” that help describe an emotionally intelligent person, plus ideas on how to use this list during an interview when screening for future or potential employees, but this was a more generalized, recipe-type list not necessarily focused on any specific field.
Going deeper into the subject of emotional intelligence, however, I have found myriads of definitions, guidelines, descriptions, theories and advice that could drive the sanest of persons literally insane!
These lists include anything from self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management to curiosity, self-motivation, being well-liked and empathetic to not prioritizing perfection, being forgiving without forgetting, not living in the past but in the present, and so on and so forth. It is quite an extensive list that can be found on many different sources, all of whose authors have the tendency to call themselves experts in the matter. With such an extensive list of “attributes” of emotionally intelligent people, how do we know which ones are real and which ones are just made up by some of the so-called experts, people who might just have read on the subject and decided to add one or two more qualities to the list, without having really done in depth studies or research on this specific topic?
Is it confusing to you? I must confess that it is more than somewhat confusing to me, daunting even, depending on the emotion I am experiencing at the given moment I am looking up all of this information on emotional intelligence.
Somewhere on the net (Psychology Today) I found that emotional intelligence is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” Interesting, isn’t it? But, how do we manage somebody else’s emotions? Sometimes, most of us have a tremendously difficult time managing our own emotions, let alone those of other people! So, how are we supposed to manage somebody else’s emotions? Isn’t everyone supposed to manage their own emotions in such a way that our lives become increasingly easier and our relationships and work more and more fulfilling? It seems to me that in a world of independent thinking and actions, of independent people and lives, this should be the ultimate goal, shouldn’t it? Nonetheless, the truth is that while we are all, or most of us, independent in many ways, including our personal lives and some aspects of our work, we are in truth inter-dependent in the realm of our professional lives.
While I don’t believe in managing anybody else’s emotions—were we to have that capacity at all, which I completely believe we don’t have—I do believe, however, that identifying the emotions of others, as well as our own, is in fact a great asset of emotionally intelligent people, and in my line of work, of emotionally intelligent translators. This identification of other people’s emotions helps me then to better manage my own reactions to their emotional selves, which is far from managing such emotional selves!
Recognizing when a client is in a certain mood or another allows me, as a translator, to better deal with him or her, and his or her translation needs and the expression of such needs, at any given moment of our interaction. As an emotionally intelligent person—yes, I have finally recognized that not only am I a bright person, I am an emotionally intelligent person as well!—I am able to assess my personal emotions in order to better manage the impact my clients’ emotional selves might have on me or not when they contact me with a translation request. This also comes from better self-management, and leads to improved relationship management, which, in turn, opens many doors to better relationships with my clients, and more satisfaction on their part with the kind of translation work I am able to offer them.
So, while I had never before thought about whether or not I was an emotionally intelligence person, the reality is that I am in fact quite emotionally intelligent! My self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management—yes, I have to admit that the article in the ATA Magazine ended up being more helpful to me as a translator than the mountain of information I found scattered on the Internet—have helped me, and continue helping me each day, to better interact with others around me, and, as a translator, to better anticipate my clients’ needs and my intelligent response to such needs.
So, what do you think? Are you an emotionally intelligent person?
Until next time,
Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Author: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual.