The term “emotional intelligence” or “EQ” appears to have been around since 1985, but the idea really took flight when Daniel Goleman published his world-famous book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, in 1995. A survey by OfficeTeam in 2017 discovered that 86% of employees believe that EQ is either more important or as important as IQ and, as Goleman says himself: “CEOs are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence”.
EQ: the stats
What’s in it for me?
Emotional intelligence is the je ne sais quoi in each of us that is intangible and unmeasurable. It has an impact on how we lead ourselves, manage socially complex situations and make decisions. And it is the reason that people with “average” IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.
How do I know I’ve got it?
Emotional intelligence is made up of five ingredients:
This means having an awareness of your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs and desires. Self-awareness means being really plugged into how you are feeling and the impact those feelings could have on your performance either day-to-day professionally or in your personal life. Linking back to last month’s column on wellbeing, how are your emotions impacting your connectedness with those around you?
Goleman writes that self-regulation “frees us from being prisoners to our feelings”. This is possibly the hardest of the five steps – not reacting when emotions are getting the better of us. The simplest of examples I can give you is a deadline or an important meeting approaching. Rather than feeling stressed and snapping at everyone, you’re able to explain how you are feeling about the importance of the deadline or the looming meeting. That way, everyone understands and is forgiving rather than feeling aggrieved at having their heads bitten off.
Motivation levels are hard to define but easy to spot in someone who has low motivation and, equally, someone with a high motivation level. I bet we can all think of people we know on those two opposing scales, but here we are talking about your own commitment and motivation towards your own goals. Where are they right now? Are they low? Are they high? If they are low, a quick check-in as to why they are low is a good move – feeling flat and unmotivated is no good for anyone.
Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feelings of others. MRI brain-scanning technology has shown that the corpus callosum – the “bridges” that act as a gateway between the left and right brain – are around 25% bigger in women’s brains than men’s. It means that in social situations, women can shift between their creative (empathic) brain and their logical brain quicker than men. This has an effect on how men and women communicate, but also the decisions we make. Psychology Today magazine has fascinating findings on the strengths and weaknesses of the genders around emotional intelligence. Both genders bring something equally rich to the table – which, after all, is the idea behind inclusion.
5 Social skills
Social skills are the communication channels through which self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and empathy are channelled – and perhaps empathy more than others. Understanding that smiling at someone makes them feel more relaxed and nodding when someone is talking implies that you agree or are empathising.
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