IQ tests used to be used to define an individual’s intelligence by a numeric score. Those scores were then considered to be a projection of likely future success. However, in the past few decades, researchers are consistently finding that Emotional Intelligence (EQ), rather than mental intelligence, more accurately predicts a person’s success. This is great news since EQ is actually a learned skill and not an innate trait.
Marc Brackett, the Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and author of Permission to Feel, defines emotional intelligence as 5 key skills with the acronym RULER:
- Recognizing emotion in ourselves and in others.
- Understanding emotions, their cause, their consequences, and how they drive thinking, decisions, and behavior.
- Labeling emotions, or knowing and using the right words for our feelings.
- Expressing emotions, what do I do with my feelings? Can I express my feelings in a way that gets my needs met?
- Regulating emotions, what strategies do I use to prevent or reduce unwanted feelings, or create the emotions I want?
You might not immediately be able to identify how that applies to the way you lead your business. The truth is that self-awareness can be applied to foster connection and communication in a way that increases workplace productivity (and makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone along the way). Here are a few of the areas in which emotional intelligence matters to your work as a professional.
One of the most integral aspects of EQ is self-awareness. Leading emotional intelligence writer and researcher Daniel Goleman writes, “With Emotional Self-Awareness, you understand your own emotions and their impact on your performance. You know what you are feeling and why—and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do. You sense how others see you and your self-image reflects that larger reality.”
Imagine that you’re starting a construction project but don’t know what tools you have access to. In that situation, it would be hard to know what kind of project you could commit to, and hard to predict how well you could complete that project.
Self-awareness is the ability to take stock of your personal tool kit. Emotionally intelligent self-awareness allows you to non-judgmentally observe your internal strengths and weaknesses. Having an honest grasp of your capabilities, and where you need to grow or rely on community support is an invaluable asset as a business owner.
Once you have mapped the terrain of your own emotional strengths and weaknesses, the next step is being able to connect those traits to the impact they have on others. Goleman explains emotional intelligence in four quadrants that build on each other: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relational management. Self-awareness leads to the ability to manage the behaviors you’ve identified (self-management), which leads to recognizing how those behaviors impact others (social awareness), which ultimately impacts your decision making process for you and your team (relational management).
At the core of this lasting connection is empathy. “Attune yourself to the emotions of others, and you can respond in the most ap
\propriate way to any circumstance — whether it's reassuring a staff member who is wary of a certain assignment, motivating someone who missed out on a promotion or enthusing a large audience,” offers Forbes Councils Member Dr. Palena Neale.
Conflict resolution becomes easier the moment you can truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see how your words or actions might impact them. When you’re attuned to another person well enough to identify their strengths, you’re able to maximize their efficacy in the workplace. Beyond the usual metrics of success, relationships are often the most rewarding part of a job, and are vital for the reputation and success of any business. EQ-informed interactions foster and protect that crucial human connection.
Stress is an unavoidable part of just about every field of work you might find yourself in. Although stress can’t be eliminated, you can reduce it by developing the ability to navigate that stress in a competent and level way.
In a recent neuroscience study that compared IQ and EQ’s relationship to stress, researchers concluded, “emotional intelligence as an attribute is better suited to handle day to day acute stress and chronic perceived stress.” The higher the participants scored in EQ, the lower their stress levels were. Meanwhile, IQ showed no real relationship to stress perception or stress responses in the brain (as measured by cortisol levels).
This means that emotional intelligence actually changes not only your emotional response to stress, but your actual physiological response. Having your brain wired to better ride out stressful situations is a leadership superpower that can help you stay cool under pressure while continuing to make colleagues and clients feel truly heard.
The good news is that, unlike our relatively static IQ levels, emotional intelligence can be built and developed at any stage in our lives. “[Emotional intelligence] is a learnable skill, so you can develop it and build on your baseline,” Forbes’ Dr. Palena Neale explains. “You just have to have some understanding . . . learn some tools to help you and practice them.
One of the first steps to building your EQ levels is simply practicing noticing your emotions. The more you are able to pause and correctly identify them, the stronger your internal insight muscles will become. BEYREP’s EQ Check-In feature is designed to facilitate that exact practice. With prompts that lead you to consider your own feelings and how they are being communicated (or not!) to your clients, the Check-In provides the opportunity to continually grow in emotional intelligence and the leadership strengths that it empowers.