What Is Emotional Intelligence and Its Importance
An interesting thing is happening in the 21st-century workplace: The more technology we have in this digital age, the more we automate tasks and trust machines to take over duties, and the more we realize the importance of emotions; more specifically, the more we recognize the importance of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is our ability to recognize emotions in ourselves and others, to understand their effects, and to use that knowledge to guide our thoughts and behaviors. Because emotionally intelligent people tend to get along better with others and be more empathetic and compassionate, they are likely to be more successful compared to their counterparts. And that makes emotional intelligence something worth learning more about.
Why is Emotional Intelligence Important
Emotional intelligence can assist you in building stronger relationships, achieving success at school and work, and achieving your career and personal goals. Also, it can help you connect with your feelings, act on your intentions, and make informed decisions regarding your personal goals.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your feelings for the purpose of reducing stress, communicating effectively with others, empathizing with them, and overcoming challenges.
If emotional intelligence sounds like an oxymoron to you, that’s understandable. We tend to think of our emotions and our intelligence as two separate things. But put them together as emotional intelligence, and it’s essentially a different way to be smart because it’s “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically” according to the dictionary definition. The term was made popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, in which he redefines what it is to be smart. In the book, Goleman lays out seven components of emotional intelligence.
Seven Components of Emotional Intelligence
When we’re self-aware, we know our strengths and weaknesses, as well as how we react to situations and people. This information can help us to set boundaries and manage our interactions with others in a way that is authentic to us. Additionally, when we know ourselves well, we can be more effective communicators since we are able to better understand the other person and what they might be looking for in a conversation. Finally, by being self-aware, we can work on improving ourselves and our lives in ways that are meaningful to us.
Self-management is the process of taking charge of one’s life and making decisions that affect oneself. It is about being proactive and responsible for one’s own well-being. Self-management involves setting goals, taking action to achieve those goals, and monitoring progress along the way. It also means being flexible and adaptable, adjusting plans as needed to reach one’s goals.
Because they are self-aware, emotionally intelligent people can regulate their emotions and keep them in check as necessary.
People with high emotional intelligence tend to be highly motivated as well, which makes them more resilient and optimistic. They find ways to enjoy life even during difficult times, and they’re always looking for ways to improve themselves. This makes them more successful in all areas of their lives.
People with empathy and compassion are simply better at connecting with other people. They have the ability to see things from other people’s perspectives, and this enables them to build relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect. People with empathy and compassion can also easily relate to other people’s emotions, which makes them better at providing support and comfort. Lastly, people with empathy and compassion tend to be more altruistic, and they are more likely to go out of their way to help others. All of these qualities make people with empathy and compassion some of the most valuable members of any community.
The social skills of emotionally intelligent people show they genuinely care for and respect others and they get along well with them.
Relationship management is the process of building and maintaining positive relationships with customers, clients, partners, and others who can help the organization achieve its goals. Effective relationship management can result in increased sales, improved customer loyalty, and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
How Emotional Intelligence is Measured?
Emotional Intelligence is the best proven world-class scenario and it makes it possible to witness how candidates interact with others in the initial meeting. Additionally, every interaction ought to be the same for the evaluation to be fair to everyone. And that is also not practical. That’s where the latest, sophisticated Emotional Intelligence tests come in. Self-reporting, other-reporting, and ability testing are the three widely used measuring methods of Emotional Intelligence (EI).
- Self-reporting – It is something similar to the personality test that mostly all humans do. This methodology is useful for determining how candidates view themselves, but it has some drawbacks. A reliable method for assessing innate characteristics like those found in personality tests is self-report testing. Self-reporting would be a reliable indicator of Emotional Intelligence, but only in people who already have high Emotional Intelligence.
- Other-reposting skill – It is the assessment of the Emotional Intelligence of a person based on the report of the EI of another person. This also known as observer rating is most useful to measure how someone manages their emotions compared to people around them. Another report provides useful information about how others perceive someone, but it is not the best way to assess Emotional Intelligence. After all, to obtain truly reliable results from other reporting, all observers must have high EI themselves. Otherwise, this methodology risks introducing bias into the evaluation process.
- Ability testing – Ability testing is the most dependable type of testing for EI testing. It may initially seem impossible to precisely measure and assess a person’s level of Emotional Intelligence. It’s a common misconception that anything related to feelings or emotions lacks a scientific or logical foundation, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You wouldn’t ask a candidate how fast they type, nor would you inquire of their friends or coworkers, if you wanted to assess a candidate’s typing abilities. Just give them a typing test to take. The various crucial components of an effective EI ability test will highlight the test-capacity taker’s ability to identify, understand, and use emotion.
Emotional Intelligence – The Ability to Perceive, Evaluate, Express and Control Emotions
Emotional Intelligence is the way of positively managing emotions to relieve stress and involves the ability to use and understand emotions. Additionally, it includes a positive way of effectively communicating, and empathizing with others and helps to create strong relationships at the office, school, and college. It also enables you to take instant and informed decisions that appeal to and impact your emotions.
Signs of Emotional Intelligence
Here we are listing a few signs that indicate you are Emotionally Intelligent:
- You seem to have high Emotional Intelligence if you can empathize with others, collaborate with others, and read and regulate emotions.
- If you have Emotional Intelligence, you can address conflict, concerns, and needs in a much calmer, straightforward manner, which will improve your communication and relationships with others, whether professional or personal.
- Being able to recognize that someone is struggling, excited, angry, or going through any emotions, and supporting them and trying to give them what they need, demonstrates that you are very Emotionally Intelligent.
- Closed-ended questions can be answered in a single word, whereas open-ended questions must be highlighted. Asking open-ended questions can indicate that you have higher Emotional Intelligence as it indicates that you are eager to learn.
- Having good social skills and setting boundaries when communicating assertively shows you are Emotionally Intelligent.
What is the Difference Between IQ and EQ?
If emotional intelligence is a type of intelligence, how does it differ from the mental type? In part, by how it’s measured. One’s intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score derived from standardized tests designed to measure intelligence. Your IQ relates directly to your intellectual abilities, like how well you learn as well as understand and apply information. People with higher IQs can think abstractly and make mental connections more easily.
Emotional intelligence is very different. Sometimes called EI (for Emotional Intelligence) or EQ (for Emotional Intelligence Quotient), emotional intelligence is like using emotions to think and enhance our reasoning. Those with high emotional intelligence are able to manage their emotions as well as use their emotions to facilitate their thinking and understand the emotions of others.
When it comes to the workplace, some say emotional intelligence is more beneficial for your career than IQ, although others argue IQ matters more. Regardless of which is more important, emotional intelligence plays a decidedly important role at work.
Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Just because you walk through the door and into an office building does not mean you check your emotions at that door before starting work, although it used to seem that way. In reality, emotions have always been in the workplace, but they were to be kept in check, with people pretending not to feel while they were on the clock.
These days, however, we are allowing emotions at work and recognizing the benefits of doing so. And emotional intelligence matters more than it used to because the workplace has changed. Today we work largely in teams, not isolation, for one thing, and savvy companies are realizing that recognizing emotions can exist lead to healthier environments. This doesn’t mean it’s an emotional free-for-all by any means, but it does mean people are more likely to be aware of their own and others’ emotions and act accordingly. People with higher emotional intelligence are also more adaptable to change—a must in our fast-changing digital age.
In addition, leaders with higher emotional intelligence tend to have happier employees who then stay longer, reducing the costs of attrition, and try harder, increasing productivity. An article from SuperOffice cites examples of salespeople with higher emotional intelligence significantly outperforming other salespeople and states that in a study of 515 executives, emotional intelligence was a higher predictor of success than experience or IQ.
Companies that are hiring want to make sure they choose job candidates who will mesh well with existing teams. As a result, about 71 percent of organizations are now valuing emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ. Even the smartest person needs good people skills to succeed these days. A high IQ alone is no longer enough.
Emotional Intelligence Skills
A high IQ is also something we tend to be born with while emotional intelligence is something we can work to improve. To a large degree, our emotional intelligence starts in childhood with how we’re raised, but as adults, we can take steps to get emotionally “smarter.” Justin Bariso, author of EQ, Applied: A Real-World Approach to Emotional Intelligence, offers seven ways to improve emotional intelligence in an article written for Inc:
- Reflect on your emotions. This is where self-awareness begins. To grow in emotional intelligence, think about your own emotions and how you typically react to negative situations, whether they involve a co-worker, family member or stranger. When you’re more aware of your emotions and typical reactions, you can start to control them.
- Ask for perspective. What we perceive to be reality is often quite different from what those around us are seeing. Start getting input from others to understand how you come across in emotionally charged situations.
- Observe. Once you’ve increased your self-awareness and you understand how you’re coming across, pay more attention to your emotions.
- Pause for a moment. Stop and think before you act or speak. It’s hard to do, but keep working at it and it will become a habit.
- Become more empathetic by understanding the “why.” Try to understand the “why” behind another person’s feelings or emotions.
- Choose to learn from criticism. Who likes criticism? Possibly no one. But it’s inevitable. When we choose to learn from criticism rather than simply defend our behaviors, we can grow in emotional intelligence.
- Practice, practice, practice. Becoming more emotionally intelligent won’t happen overnight, but it can happen—with effort, patience, and a lot of practice.
Impact of Emotional Intelligence
Thinking Before Reacting
It is essential to think before you react in certain situations. Instant reactions may be sometimes rigorous and the words used may create a long-lasting impact on others’ emotions. Hence, it is very important to think before reacting in any situation, and communicating softly and understandably will help to solve issues more easily and wisely.
Greater self-awareness is a symbol of EI. People with high EI are always self-aware and more conscious. Even though they are social, they set boundaries in certain things. Additionally, stress management is only the first step toward developing Emotional Intelligence. According to the science of attachment, your current emotional experience is most likely a reflection of your early life experiences. Your ability to manage core emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and joy is frequently influenced by the consistency and quality of your early emotional experiences. If your primary caregiver understood and valued your emotions as an infant, your emotions have likely become valuable assets in adulthood.
Empathy for Others
Maintaining good social skills is another impact of Emotional Intelligence especially when others are mentally weak. Once you have emotional awareness, you can effectively develop additional social/emotional skills that will improve the effectiveness, fruitfulness, and fulfillment of your relationships. In human relationships, conflict and disagreement are unavoidable. Two people can never have the same needs, opinions, or expectations at the same time. Even though conflict is not that bad, healthy and constructive conflict resolution is necessary to build a relationship between two people. Conflict fosters freedom, creativity, and safety in relationships when it is not perceived as threatening or punishing.
How to Use Emotional Intelligence?
People with high Emotional Intelligence can support others in weak times. You can boost your social skills by actively listening to others, paying attention to non-verbal communication, and giving effective solutions to their issues.
Tips for Improving EI
- Listen – Active listening is very important in building a relationship. Everyone loves to have a person who actively listens to their words and creates positive and healthy conversations. Including some jokes, and solutions can make magic in any relationship.
- Empathize – Empathy is the ability to understand others’ feelings and also understand the set of feelings, desires, triggers, and fears. Communicating and understanding others’ feelings is fuel for Emotional Intelligence.
- Reflect – In Emotional Intelligence being social is very important and a person with high Emotional Intelligence can be a good motivator. Try to reflect on the socializing skills of great personalities and implement their strategies in your life for motivating others.
History of Emotional Intelligence
Early Growth – In 1930, Edward Thorndike, a famous Psychologist defined “Social Intelligence” as the ability to get along with others healthily and positively. Later in 1940, Psychologist David Wechsler described that different effective elements of intelligence can determine how successful a person can be.
Later Developments – 1950’s witnessed the growth of a school of thinkers and great thinkers including Abraham Maslow focussed on different strategies to boost the emotional strength of people. A notion of Multiple Intelligence was put forward in 1970 by Howard Gardner which introduced the idea that intelligence was more just than a single, general ability.
Emergence of Emotional Intelligence – The term “Emotional Intelligence” was first used by Wayne Payne in a Doctoral Dissertation. In 1990, Psychologist Peter Salovey and John Mayer published an influential article in the journal “Imagination, Cognition, and Personality”.
1. How self-aware is an Emotionally Intelligent person?
Emotionally Intelligent people are highly conscious of their different emotions and are capable of managing them effectively including frustrations and stress. They can easily name their emotions and also have great self-confidence and are realistic about self-awareness.
2. Do the Emotionally Intelligent have a better handle on self-regulation?
An Emotionally Intelligent person thinks before any actions or talk and can easily shift gears and lighten moods internally and externally. They are never impulsive and don’t take instant or hasty actions.
3. Are the Emotionally Intelligent tuned into the emotions of others?
Emotionally Intelligent people always tune into the emotions of others. Such persons can be good friends, partners, parents, or leaders.
4. Are the Emotionally Intelligent more empathic?
They have high empathizing skills and can help them resolve their issues. Moreover, they are very supportive and tune their moods according to the emotions of the people.
5. Is Emotional Intelligence a valid construct?
This notion is actually in debate in this field and some Psychologists argue that it can be charisma and parsimoniously described by traits such as agreeableness.
6. Can I learn to be more Emotionally Intelligent?
Yes, you can learn to be more Emotionally Intelligent by investing time to judge your emotions and actions.
7. Are Emotionally Intelligent higher performers in the workplace?
Some Emotionally Intelligent people are good at their workplace but some are not. Hence, the correlation between the workplace performance and Emotional Intelligence is immeasurable.
8. Are the Emotionally Intelligent more motivated?
Yes, they are more motivated in managing tasks and problem solving and also good at motivating others.
9. Can you test for Emotional Intelligence in the workplace?
It is noticed that some employers test the Emotional Intelligence of candidates during recruitment. But there is no report regarding how effective it is in the work locations.
10. Can Emotional Intelligence be measured?
It is impossible since there is no validated psychometric test or scale for Emotional Intelligence. Moreover, some argue that it is an interpersonal skill and not an actual construct.
We live in an age when we can earn a certification in any number of topics to boost our careers, thanks to technology, but sadly we can’t earn one in emotional intelligence. That’s something we have to address as individuals, to recognize it as important, choose to improve it and continue to work on it—probably for the rest of our lives. But the payoffs are worth it as we become better employees, better spouses, and all-around better people.
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