2013-03-22

Why emotional intelligence is important

Drake Editorial Team

As Published In The Drake Business Review, Volume 5: Number 1 

For most people, emotional intelligence (EI) is more important than one’s  intelligence to attain success in their lives and careers. As individuals, our success depends on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them. Therefore, each one of us must develop the mature emotional intelligence skills required to better understand, empathize, and negotiate with other people, particularly in our global economy. Otherwise, success will elude us in our lives and careers.

“Your EQ [emotional intelligence quotient] is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work co-operatively with them,”

says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist.

UNDERSTANDING THE FIVE CATEGORIES OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE


1. Self-awarenessThe ability to recognize an emotion as it happens is the key to your EQ. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them. The major elements of self-awareness are:

  • Emotional awareness: your ability to recognize your own emotions and their effects
  • Self-confidence: sureness about your self-worth and capabilities


2. Self-regulationYou often have little control over when you experience emotions. You can, however, have some say in how long an emotion will last by using a number of techniques to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, or depression, often recasting a situation in a more positive light. Self-regulation involves:

  • Self-control: managing disruptive impulses
  • Trustworthiness: maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
  • Conscientiousness: taking responsibility for your own performance
  • Adaptability: handling change with flexibility
  • Innovation: being open to new ideas


3. MotivationTo motivate yourself for any achievement requires clear goals and a positive attitude. Although you may be predisposed to be negative, you can, with effort and practice, learn to think more positively. If you catch negative thoughts as they occur, you can reframe them in more positive terms, which will help you achieve your goals. Motivation is made up of:

  • Achievement drive: your constant striving to improve or to meet a standard of excellence
  • Commitment: aligning with the goals of the group or organization
  • Initiative: readying yourself to act on opportunities
  • Optimism: pursuing goals persistently despite obstacles and setbacks


4. EmpathyThe ability to recognize how people feel is important to success in your life and career. The more skilled you are at discerning the feelings behind others’ signals, the better you can control the signals you send them.

An empathetic person excels at:

  • Service orientation: anticipating, recognizing, and meeting clients’ needs
  • Developing others: sensing what others need to progress and bolstering their abilities
  • Leveraging diversity: cultivating opportunities through diverse people
  • Political awareness: reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships
  • Understanding others: discerning the feelings behind the needs and wants of others


5. Social skillsDeveloping good interpersonal skills is crucial to success in your life and career. In today’s cyber culture, you can have immediate access to technical knowledge. Therefore, you must possess a high EQ to better understand, empathize, and negotiate with others in the global economy. Among the most useful skills are:

  • Influence: wielding effective persuasion tactics
  • Communication: sending clear messages
  • Leadership: inspiring and guiding groups and people
  • Change catalysis: initiating or managing change
  • Conflict management ability: understanding, negotiating, and resolving disagreements
  • Ability to build bonds: nurturing instrumental relationships
  • Collaboration and co-operation: working with others toward shared goals
  • Team building: creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals


How well you do in your life and career is determined by both IQ and EQ. IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else — including EQ. A study of Harvard graduates in business, law, medicine, and teaching showed a negative or zero correlation between an IQ indicator (entrance exam scores) and subsequent career success.


Copyright 2012 Psych Central.com. All rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission. For information and resources, visit www.psychcentral.com.

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