eq_iceberg1What is emotional intelligence? Why does it matter?

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, technical ability and intellectual talent are taken as a given, merely table stakes. To have an edge, to gain a competitive advantage, raw IQ is no longer enough. You need EQ, or emotional intelligence. Indeed, studies show that only a small percentage of success, just 10% to 25%, can be attributed to IQ. (“Successful Intelligence” by Robert Sternberg, Simon & Schuster)

Emotional intelligence focuses on personal qualities such as initiative and resourcefulness, empathy and resilience, flexibility and persuasiveness.

EQ falls into two main categories, Intra or Personal Competence and Inter, or Social Competence.

INTRA-personnel EQ (Personal Competence):
How astute are we about understanding, directing, and managing our own emotions? How self-aware are we? Do we practice good emotional regulation? Are we intelligent mood managers? Are we capable of self-discipline? Do we have appropriate levels of self-confidence and self-esteem? Are we trustworthy? Do we communicate well?

INTER-personnel EQ (Social Competence):
How well do we read and understand the emotions of others? Can we “Win friends and Influence People”? Do we relate well? Demonstrate empathy and understand emotional boundaries and the needs, motivations, and desires of others?

The good news is that unlike IQ, which is largely fixed at birth, EQ is a skill that can be acquired and honed. However, like any skill of great value it requires work to learn and master. If it were easy, anyone could do it and everyone would.

Daniel Goleman wrote the groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence” in 1996; it is as good a place as any to start your studies. Martin Seligman’s “Learned Optimism” also is an excellent book on a specific area of emotional intelligence. Several self-assessment tests for EQ are available on-line; they are an excellent way to establish a baseline and look for areas to work on. Close friends or co-workers who will give you honest feedback are another useful tool.

Personally, I’ve found a journal to be an excellent help in working on EQ. Keeping a journal faithfully is an excellent way of reflecting on your day. Journaling provides an opportunity to recall occasions when you would like to have handled a situation more effectively and think about how different paradigms might have lead to other interpretations of the situation that would have triggered more helpful emotions and thus a better response.