DQ 101: Digital Emotional Intelligence

girl on her phone on the couch in the dark

Humans are social, emotional beings. How do our feelings affect the way we navigate the digital world? That’s where Digital Emotional Intelligence comes in.

In the Digital Intelligence 101 introduction, we shared that people experience eight critical areas of digital life — Identity, Use, Safety, Security, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Literacy and Rights. These areas make up a framework mapping one’s Digital Intelligence (DQ).

This article explores how Digital Security manifests at each maturity level — Citizen, Creator and Competitor (if you need a refresher on these levels, check out our Intro to DQ article).

Area #5: Digital Emotional IntelligenceDigital Emotional Intelligence

Humans are social creatures. In many ways, the promise of digital platforms to bring us together to share and connect has set humanity up for new levels of sharing and understanding. However, the reality has proven far more complicated.

Tone of voice, body language and facial expressions are key elements in human communication — and without them, we need to develop new ways to understand how emotions influence our online interactions. This includes how we make others feel and how technology’s feedback loops (such as views and likes) make us feel and impact our behaviour.

When we take in-person social cues out of the mix, it becomes challenging to interpret messages — or even achieve the right tone or feel when sending one. Interacting with each other online comes with a heightened level of responsibility.

Online actions have real-world consequences. Think of the news stories where individuals share derogatory, hateful, or unprofessional comments online, and weeks later they lose their job over it. What about the impact that social media scrolling may have on your mood, mindset, or your esteem? Or when online harassment convinces someone to do harm to themselves or other people?

As digital technology is ingrained in our daily lives, we need to understand how our online actions — and the actions of others — impact our emotions in both positive and negative ways. We need a new level of awareness to protect the mental health of ourselves, our students, peers, colleagues, customers, and family members as social interactions continue to be influenced and augmented by technology.

So, how does Digital Emotional Intelligence apply to each maturity level? Think of this on an individual level, and consider how DQ and EQ together influence how an organization operates, or how we look at digital products.

Below is a list of three competencies areas (knowledge, skills, attitudes) that evolve as one’s Digital Emotional Intelligence matures.

Level 1 (Citizen) = Digital Empathy

This is a person’s ability to be aware, sensitive and supportive of their own and other’s’ feelings, needs and concerns online.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands how their online interactions might affect other people’s feelings
    • Recognizes people could be influenced by their online interactions, such as the effect of online trolls
  • Skills:
    • Develops socio-emotional skills by becoming sensitive and respectful of other people’s perspectives and emotions
    • Able to regulate and respond to online interactions in real time, and that happen while offline
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows awareness and compassion for the feelings, needs and concerns of others online

Level 2 (Creator) = Self- Awareness and Management

This is a Digital Creator’s ability to recognize and manage how one’s value system and understanding fits within their digital environment.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands how their own value systems influence — and are influenced by — their digital environments
    • Able to explain how their mood may affect others
  • Skills:
    • Can identify and explain their emotions
    • Reflects on how their feelings may be influenced by digital experiences
    • Manages their moods and impulses while constantly self-regulating
    • Aware of their own level of digital competence and actively works to manage and update personal skillset
    • Manages emotions and competencies to foster cooperation and positive interactions between internal and external stakeholders to fulfill their goals
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows awareness of their own moods and actively manages impulses to respect others when communicating online

Level 3 (Competitor) = Relationship Management

This is a Digital Competitor’s ability to skillfully manage one’s online relationships through collaboration, conflict management and persuasion.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands and manages different contexts of social interaction in online communities to achieve mutual consensus and outcomes
    • Understands how different behavioural norms and emotional reactions vary depending on the platform and context
  • Skills:
    • Develops interpersonal skills enabling them to effectively engage, communicate, negotiate and influence stakeholders in intercultural online dialogue
    • Manages, maintains and grows relationships with specific groups based on individual or organizational feedback (e.g., in-depth customer engagement to address their needs)
    • Builds cooperative partnerships with inter-organizational and external stakeholders
    • Leverages stakeholder relations to meet organization goals
    • Manages various expectations and needs by building rapport, planning, communicating, negotiating and influencing stakeholders
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows self-motivation and commitment to providing an inclusive culture that creates tolerance and teamwork to build and grow positive online communities
    • Committed to exceeding the needs of both internal and external stakeholders by demonstrating diplomacy and a willingness to put other’s needs first
    • Considers a diverse set of opinions before making final decisions

These three sub-competencies are a solid foundation to build on as individuals, experts and organizations continue to explore how human emotions and feelings are influenced, shaped and impacted as we navigate the digital world. What’s your Digital Emotional Intelligence maturity level, and what does it say about your DQ?

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