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What is Emotional Aperture

Arun Prabhu Apr 20, 2019
If you are a leader, or ever want to lead at some point of time, you will understand the need to get along with the followers. For that, you need to find out what they feel, not just individually, but as a group too. This is called emotional aperture.
By definition, emotional aperture is "the ability to recognize the composition of diverse emotions in a collective" (Emotional Aperture and Strategic Change: The Accurate Recognition of Collective Emotions by Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Quy Nguyen Huy). In the business sense, an emotion is what someone elicits when faced with a situation.
Knowing what your people display during a given circumstance is very important. What they do depends heavily on how they feel. Not only that, one's emotions may affect others to feel the same way or to oppose the sentiment. The problem is, almost all the times, this emotion is displayed at a very small, almost invisible level (to the superior at least).

Emotional Intelligence

Your emotional intelligence is your ability to find out, assess and control emotions. These emotions are classified into three; your own emotions, another person's emotions and the collective emotion of a group. Emotions and their handling are a non-cognitive part of us, and are essential for our survival, adaptation and evolution.
Emotional intelligence, or social intelligence, is just as important as memory, puzzle-solving abilities or any other cognitive aspects of the mind. There may be some arguments against validating the importance of emotional intelligence, like measuring it only reveals a person's conformity and his knowledge, and not his actual ability to find a solution.
It has, however, been studied that emotional intelligence does affect a worker's output. More importance is now given to assessing a person's emotional intelligence along with his/her Intelligence Quotient.

Social Intelligence

Your social intelligence is your ability to effectively get involved in, traverse through and control, various complex social situations. The measurement of one's social quotient (SQ) is like measuring the self-esteem the person has, along with his/her social awareness and level of beliefs about the society, in parts and as a whole.
This means that, if a person possesses lower SQ than someone else, this does not necessarily mean the former is lesser skilled than the latter. It only means the latter has a higher set of thoughts, aspirations, beliefs. This does not make him/her more qualified than the former for survival and success.
A person's SQ may be tested almost the same way as his/her IQ can be tested, with social questions in place of calculations. The questions and their schemes must be rigorous, tight and interrelated, because there's always a chance that the person might be lying.

Using Emotional Aperture

Collective emotions can be understood through many ways, the best one being experience. There are some feelings that are easier revealed than others. Some die out almost as fast as they were bred. Some lie dormant and keep intensifying to result in an eventual emotional outburst.
Understanding these conditions and knowing what impact they can have on the individual and the group is important for effectively appraising or breaking down a situation. An emotion can thus belong to a group as a whole, or within members of the group.
The kind of emotion and its intensity play an integral role in the working of the group. For example, putting incompetent workers in the same group as highly qualified ones may create emotions of envy within the former, causing friction within the group, lowering production.
The problem with controlling another person's emotions lies in your approach and the willingness or unwillingness of that person's emotions to be controlled. It can be very difficult seeding a positive thought or emotion in a group overly competitive within itself. It can also sometimes lead to the formation of emotions that are pretty much unpredictable.
Other effects include the increased worker output if they know they are being listened to. This is called the Hawthorne effect. Employees can develop a sense of pride and well-being if there are changes made in the workplace according to their wishes.
It's important to know that any new emotion exhibited by an employee may even be related to his/her own previous emotional display or of someone else in the work group. Emotions, negative or positive, are a high leveled property of humans. It is nigh impossible to disregard them, doing so would increase the probability or garnering negative emotions.
It is thus, important to know and accept the use of your emotional aperture for the optimum working on the work floor. Doing the right things at the right time, no matter how insignificant they are, go a long way in creating a perfect workplace.