Why emotional intelligence is key to personal and professional success.

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Why emotional intelligence is key to personal and professional success.

Emotional Intelligence (also known as EQ or EI) is a highly valued business communication skill.  How can you assess and increase your own EQ?

Daniel Goleman’s 1996 groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence Why It Can Matter More Than IQ takes a comprehensive look at why some people with exceptionally high IQs are unable to attain success in their personal and professional lives.  Goleman and his co-authors posit that in order to truly excel, a person needs not only book smarts but emotional smarts as well. 

Many following the job market acknowledge that candidates with strong emotional intelligence are more attractive hires.  People with high emotional intelligence make better leaders, better managers, and better colleagues. For a comprehensive deep-dive into the topic check out, “EQ and the Future of Work,” by Advance Systems.

“Today companies worldwide routinely look through the lens of EI in hiring, promoting, and developing their employees.”-Daniel Goleman

So what is EQ and how do I know if I have it?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to achieve our goals through recognizing our emotions and the emotions of others. This is in order to guide our behavior and adapt to our environment.  Interested in formally assessing your EQ?  There are several tests available online (some charge a fee). Check out Psychology Today, Greater Good Magazine (published by UC Berkeley), and Yale University.  

A healthy dose of self-reflection is also an effective way to rate your EQ abilities.

Assess your emotional self-awareness.  How good are you at acknowledging how you’re really feeling?  The pressure to project outwardly that everything is fine can often lead to bottling our true emotions.

Admit whether emotions stemming from one particular situation are influencing exchanges with others in your life.   Could the disagreement you had with your boyfriend on the way out the door this morning be the real reason you were short with your colleague during morning staff meeting?

Acknowledge your ability to be socially aware.  When you walk into a room can you sense the ‘vibe’?  Think beyond walking into a library or movie theater and automatically lowering your voice so as not to disturb others.  It necessitates taking a look around the room to assess people’s emotional state of mind.  Are they relaxed or tense?  Happy or anxious?

Understand your ability to employ empathy. There is distinct (and important) difference between showing someone empathy vs. sympathy.  It boils down to how well you are able to truly understand how you would feel and act if posed with the same circumstances as someone else.

How can I strengthen my EQ skills?

Identify a recurring interaction you have at work.  Such as weekly supervision with someone who reports to you or your team check-in.  Observe those you’re meeting with closely.  Note any physical cues they are giving off.  Is their body language closed or open?  Is their energy calm and focused?  Or disjointed and erratic?  Based on what you intuit adjust your actions accordingly.  If they seem frazzled ask them if they need to take a moment before beginning in order to focus themselves.  

It’s also worth checking to if your company offers reimbursement for professional development.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find there are resources at your disposal you didn’t know about.  Hiring a communication coach or taking a class to hone your EQ skills is a great investment in skills that will serve you in all aspects of your life, personally and professionally.

Finally, I love from Roots of Action: “Emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence. It is not the triumph of heart over head.  It is the unique intersection of both.”

This post was written by Jackie Miller

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