Self-awareness, impulse control, empathy and social skills are all qualities that mark people who excel in life and at work. In fact, dozens of studies support the notion that emotional intelligence (EQ) is a more important predictor of success than IQ.
According to a 2015 research paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and reported by Forbes magazine, 36 separate studies show a strong correlation between self-reported emotional intelligence, job performance and success.
Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of EQ consultancy TalentSmart, says emotional intelligence affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.
“The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance,” Bradberry says. “TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control.”
It pays to have an eye for emotions
In 2014, an international team of researchers led by German psychological scientists Tassilo Momm and Gerhard Blickle found workers skilled at recognizing emotions were paid more than their less emotionally perceptive peers.
“Our research shows that being emotionally intelligent helps individuals effectively apply political skill to facilitate their performance and career outcomes,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour. “The better people are at recognising emotions, the better they handle the politics in organizations and the interpersonal aspects of work life, and thus the more they earn in their jobs.”
And according to the Australian Institute of Management investing in emotional intelligence pays huge dividends for companies with up to 1,000% increase in additional revenue, improved customer service and improved decision-making.
So what exactly is emotional intelligence?
Bradberry describes emotional intelligence as “something in each of us that is a bit intangible”; which is not very specific, or helpful. But he goes on to define four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.
Personal competence comprises your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people; your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behaviour and tendencies.
Social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills; your ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviour and motives in order to respond effectively and improve the quality of your relationships.
It has nothing to do with how smart you are; and you can get better at it with practice.
“Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behaviour that is distinct from your intellect,” Bradberry says. “There is no known connection between IQ and emotional intelligence; you simply can’t predict emotional intelligence based on how smart someone is.
“Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, there is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. You can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.”