This blog is part of a series of blogs exploring Emotional Intelligence. Looking at ways to be able to develop and enhance our own perceived levels of Emotional Intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional IntelligenceTo gain a greater understanding you can read a previous blog What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can I develop it, for more detail. However, Emotional intelligence is all about how well you understand your own emotions and the emotions of others, and the ability to identify and manage them. Emotional Intelligence, also known as “Ei” or “EQ”, is now well established set of “Competencies” that contribute to performance, engagement and success.

Their are five key areas of Emotional Intelligence, Self Perception, Self Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making and Stress Management. Each of these areas has three traits. We are going to discuss each of these traits in more detail with their own blog. This week we will be exploring the trait, Reality Testing.

What is Reality Testing and the relations to Emotional Intelligence?

Reality Testing measures your emotional literacy, how good you are understanding yours and other peoples emotional feelings. It is the ability to assess the correspondence between what is experienced, the subjective, and if in reality it exists, the objective. Reality Testing looks at how well you understand the world around you. Do you have your head int he clouds or are you grounded.

Reality Testing isn’t about creativity, thats a personal characteristic that you can use endlessly.

“Humans see what they want to see.” – Rick Riordan, the Lightning Thief 

How much do you use the trait of Reality Testing?

In a group do you understand why decisions are made and how they got to the decision? Do you “get” what is going on?

When Reality Testing is operating well:

  • Realistic, well grounded, tuned in
  • Keeps things in perspective in relationships
  • Emphasises what is practical & realistic
  • Adapts behaviour based on awareness of others

When Reality Testing is low:

  • Impractical, head in clouds
  • May choose unrealistic team goals
  • Loses objectivity in favour of seeing things how they wish them to be
  • Tends to view a situation from only one perspective

Developing skills around Reality Testing

During Learning Cog’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Masterclass, starting with ‘Self-Perception’, we explain how to assess you own emotional intelligence and how to develop your EQ awareness. Here in this blog we have added some areas to think about when developing Reality Testing.


  • Who do you know who tries to see things as they really are, with the full realities of the present situation, without inventing a story about them?
  • Do you know someone who is excellent in handling conflict, staying with the facts? How do they do it?
  • Who do you know who is very matter-of-fact, keeps things in the right perspective and does not exaggerate even when they are telling a good story? Observe their way of doing “Reality Testing”

Self Coaching

  • How focused are your discussions with others?
  • Do you tend to lose track of what I people saying?
  • Do other people tell you that you are a bit of a dreamer?
  • What is it about your behaviour that signals to others when you are being less or more in touch with reality?
  • Do you tend to phase out when people are talking and daydream about other possibilities?

Thinking and Reflection

Here is an exercise for you to complete to help build your understanding of your own Reality Testing.

Exercise 1: What’s really happening in meetings 

Ask yourself some of these questions while you are in meetings.

  • How do you determine the reality as different to your perception of it?
  • What time does this need to be delivered by?
  • Are there logical steps, which did you take to arrive at your conclusion?
  • What is the evidence on which you are basing this decision?

Exercise 2: Six honest serving men 

I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I know, their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who. – Rudyard Kipling 

Before you make a decision or take a course of action, run through these six honest serving men

  • What is the outcome, deliverable, agreement?
  • Why did we/I decide this?
  • When is the deadline?
  • Where is the project going to happen?
  • Who is involved and what are their roles?
  • How are we going to get there?

Use this checklist in meetings, on the phone, when you plan things with others.


It is important to actual do something when taking part in any self development. The practical is more important than the theory.

  • Tune into immediate situations to put things in perspective.
  • Search for objective evidence to support what you are feeling and thinking when sizing up the situation.
  • Developed best and worst case scenario is.
  • Play devil’s advocate with yourself and when appropriate with others.
  • Test the correspondence between what you experienced and what objectively exists. In particular notice when you speaking facts and when you are expressing opinions.
  • Spend time checking out how accurate your feelings, thoughts and ideas really are. Rather than relying too heavily on your gut feelings.
  • Ask others to do reality checks with you.
  • When developing an opinion about something or somebody, collect outside information to see if that is really the way it is.
  • Talk about your ideas and feelings to overs to get their feedback. Sharing your thoughts and feelings may help you gain more objectless insights.

The more time you spend observing yourself and the people around you, the more you develop your Reality Testing. Give yourself time, it may feel mechanical, clumsy and awkward at first, but with practice it will become quick and easy and automatic. Why not get in touch and talk to us more about developing Emotional Intelligence in yourself, your Leadership Team or your whole business.

Look out for the next blog on Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 12 – Impulse Control

Or read previous blogs:

What is emotional intelligence? and how can I develop it…

1 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 1 – Self Regard

2 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 2 – Self Actualisation

3 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 3 – Emotional Self Awareness

4 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 4 – Emotional Expression

5 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 5 – Assertiveness

6 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 6 – Independence

7 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 7 – Social Responsibility

8 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 8 – Empathy

9 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 9 – Interpersonal Relationships 

10 Developing Emotional Intelligence – Part 10 – Problem Solving