Whether you're talking about soft skills, people skills, or emotional IQ--it's all the same thing. It's about how self-aware you are; how well you relate to other people; and how well you adapt and cope with the demands of your environment. If you're a mom; you've had plenty of practice; but does it translate into the work world?
Know thyself. It's been the motto from Plato to Benjamin Franklin--every deep thinker for mellennia. You too can develop this ability with a few simple steps. First, if you want to know how much you eat a day; write down everything you eat. You don't have to write down everything you think, but if you spend time journaling your thoughts and feelings daily you will begin to find themes. These are the streams which your thoughts follow and you can decide if you like were they're headed. Still stuck? Check out Tom Roth's book, Strengths 2.0; based in part on the research of Gallup Organization legend Donald D. Clifton, Ph.D. which includes the chance to take the StrenghtsFinder assessment. Here you will discover your talents and learn ways to make them your signature strengths.
Second, ask those close to you for honest feedback. You do have one or two people in your life who will be honest with you? Don't worry, start developing at least one relationship where you'll treasure the honest feedback they'll give--these friendships are more precious than gold. In the mean time, you can encourage brutal honesty with anonymous feedback. Formally, you can have others fill out instruments like the FIRO-B or fill out the MBTI for yourself; informally set up a Survey Monkey account and have colleagues respond to a survey you've developed. The goal is to get feedback from someone you respect and begin to see how others perceive you.
RELATING TO OTHERS
Taking time to understand your own style of communication is critical. If your style is aggressive you may get what you want--for sure. But what happens in the wake of your efforts may leave your plans shipwrecked; leaving you gasping for breath on the beach of destruction. If you're passive, you deepest desires are marooned on an island no one can find. Co-workers need your passion to set sail and your compassion when the ship is foundering. Assertiveness is about finding that delicate balance without resorting to threats or walking out the door. To practice assertiveness remember that your thoughts and feelings are equal in importance to everyone else regardless of your place on the org chart.
ADAPTING TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT
At home things can change just as fast as at the office. Kids get sick and after-school plans change . Do you adapt? The same applies to work. It's your thoughts and beliefs that either help or hurt you in these moments. Rapid change reveals the distortions in your beliefs. Rigidly clinging to "musts' and "have-tos" will bring you to your breaking point. Stretching your perspective and allowing flexibility in a fast-paced and changing environment serves your goals more that clenched jaws and curled fists.
First, to achieve mental flexibility, begin after an upsetting event; write down the assumptions that made you so upset. You say it was the other person that made you upset? Start with that. Begin to realize that your thoughts create your feelings. It's a good news, bad news story. While you create your feelings with your thoughts/beliefs; it means you are in control, but it also means you can't blame the other guy.
Second, flexibility benefits from novelty. Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking allows for that leap in logic where others see only the same solution. From the Six Thinking Hats of Edward de Bono to Seth Godin's Edgecraft described in his book, The Free Prize, seeing the possibility will lead you in the right direction.
Where do you lean on your emotional intelligence the most? Home? School? Work?