Ever wonder why some very intelligent and highly skilled people struggle in their careers while some that make it to the top aren’t necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed? That might be due to the fact that while a high IQ is indeed an advantage, that alone doesn’t guarantee success in career, especially in fields where interacting with others is essential. Let’s be real here, some (not all) of the highly skilled, highly intelligent folks are also highly lacking in the social department. So, if IQ alone is not enough, what else do you need for success? You need another form of intelligence – one in the emotional side of things.
If you look it up on dictionaries and such, they’ll define emotional intelligence as the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. So basically it boils down to the ability to read into people’s emotions and acting accordingly. And self-management also.
Pillars of Emotional Intelligence
According to Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence has five pillars:
- Self-Awareness – it is the ability to recognize your emotions, triggers, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, values, and goals and understand what these have to do with your thoughts and behavior. Being self-aware means you know how your feelings impact your performance, which leads you to find owning up to your mistakes and admitting you don’t know something easier. You’re not averse to admitting that you can’t handle something, thus avoiding problematic situations for you and everyone else. Also, since self-awareness also involves knowing your shortcomings/weaknesses, you can start improving yourself, as you already know what to work on.
- Self-Regulation – this involves controlling emotions rather than letting them control you. This doesn’t mean that you don’t allow yourself to feel bad, but that you avoid acting on negative emotions. So, instead of reacting to every feeling, you let the emotion pass, so you can understand how to respond reasonably, thus enabling you to control your words and actions, and help you avoid impulse decisions.
- Motivation – this is basically what moves people to action. Motivation keep people pushing forward despite challenges, which is why those with low or no motivation at all are averse to risks, give up easily, anxious, and more negative about stuff, which, when in a team, can be counterproductive as it will affect team morale. Highly motivated people on the other hand are more likely to monitor their progress, ask for feedback, push and strive to improve themselves, thus making them an asset to any team.
- Empathy – this is the ability to emotionally connect with others and consider their feelings, concerns and points of view, which is a rather important skill in negotiations. So basically, empaths try to understand someone else’s situation and actions, thus enabling them to focus on viable solutions instead of rash decisions or reactions. So empathy is essential, especially if you want team harmony, as meeting emotional needs of those you work with = happy work culture.
- Relationship Management (aka Social Skills) – this involves interpersonal skills – the ability to build genuine trust, rapport and respect from people. This means you get along well with people. Also, this means that backstabbing, bad-mouthing, and undermining others are to be avoided at all costs.
With that, it is understandable why studies show that only 15% percent of success is due to technical abilities and such. The other 85% is due to human relation skills (emotional intelligence) – the ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. And these are what most careers nowadays look for. This is why even those without high IQ make it in life. Also, the great thing about emotional intelligence is that, unlike your capacity to learn, which may remain constant throughout your life, emotional intelligence can actually be developed and improved upon.
Increasing Emotional Intelligence
Though there are people naturally gifted with the ability to develop emotional intelligence, there are ways for normal people to improve theirs as well. For instance, learning to be mindful of your own feelings and reactions to others will help you develop empathy. Here are other things you can do to improve your emotional intelligence:
Practice self-awareness and learn to understand your feelings – identify what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling that emotion, and how you can act appropriately. Writing everything down might help make things easier.
Pay attention to your words and actions – are you reacting to a situation, or are you responding? If it’s the former, you may need to learn how to take things slowly and make calculated responses.
With that, it is easier to understand the significance of emotional intelligence in attaining success. Not just in careers though, as developing emotional intelligence can help you improve your relationships and become a better version of yourself. So, you would be doing yourself a great favor by taking the time to develop and improve upon your emotional intelligence.
You may also want to read: Emotional decision making at the workplace – how to prevent it