How Important Is EQ For Your Career?

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Four critical skills account for 58% of performance in all types of jobs and together, they form what you’re today familiar with as Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as EQ or Emotional quotient).

Emotional intelligence is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions.

People with high emotional intelligence are skilled at recognizing their own emotions and those of others. They are experts at using the emotional information they’ve gathered to guide their thinking and behavior.

But also, to discern between different feelings, label them appropriately, and adjust their emotions to their environments.

Emotional intelligence consists of:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

These four areas will all be covered briefly in this blog post about EQ.

How was emotional intelligence discovered?

Emotional intelligence was first discovered when it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding.

People with the highest intelligence (IQ) only outperformed those with average intelligence 20% of the time. On the contrary, people with average intelligence outperformed those with high intelligence a whopping 70% of the time.

Scientists were shocked and realized that there must be another variable, apart from intelligence, that explained why people are successful.

Years and countless studies later, the studies pointed researchers to emotional intelligence as being the critical success factor.

They found EQ to be the single best predictor of performance in the workplace, and the strongest driver of personal excellence and leadership.

The link between earnings and EQ is so direct that for every increasing point in EQ, it adds $1300 to your annual salary. People with high EQ make on average $29’000 more per year than people with low EQ.

You can be a high performer without a high EQ, but the chances are slim. To be successful and fulfilled nowadays, you must learn how to maximize your EQ skills.

The first essential skill in EQ: Self-awareness

In a research study with nearly 5,000 participants, they examined what self-awareness really is. Why you need it, and how you can increase it.

Even though most people believe they are self-aware, according to this study, only 10-15% of the people fit the criteria.

Researchers suggest that seeing ourselves clearly comes with benefits such as:

  • Makes us more confident and more creative
  • We make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively
  • Makes us less likely to lie, cheat and steal
  • We are better workers who get more promotions.
  • Being more effective leaders who run more profitable companies, and have more satisfied employees

3 interesting findings about self-awareness

There are two types of self-awareness

The first is called internal self-awareness and stands for how clearly you see your values, passions, aspirations, reactions, and your impact on others. In EQ, internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, better personal- and social control, and happiness. It also helps us to be less anxious, stressed, or depressed.

The second type of self-awareness in EQ is called external self-awareness. It’s more related to how good we are at understanding how other people view us. Researchers found that people who know how others see them are more skilled at showing empathy and taking others’ perspectives.

Even though you might assume that a high score in one type of self-awareness would mean scoring high on the other one. That’s not the case. Researchers found virtually no relationship between them.

Experience hinders self-awareness.

A study of more than 3600 leaders across a variety of industries and roles found that higher-level leaders more significantly overvalued their skills, compared to lower-level leaders.

More experienced managers might, for example, be less accurate in assessing their leadership effectiveness. Many of them think they know more and that will come at a cost.

Senior leaders often have fewer people who can provide them with sincere and candid feedback. The reason being, that many of their subordinates are scared that providing honest feedback might hurt their career.

Introspection doesn’t always improve your EQ or Self-awareness

It’s widely assumed introspection (examining the causes of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) improves your EQ, specifically your Self-awareness. You might think that the best way to learn more about yourself is to reflect on why you are the way you are.

Yet, one of the most surprising findings of the research is that people who introspect are LESS self-aware. They also report having worse job satisfaction and overall well-being.

Then what’s the problem?

The problem is not that introspection is ineffective. It’s that most people are doing it wrong.

Let’s illustrate this with an example of the most common introspective question: “why?”. You might ask yourself “why?” when you’re trying to understand your own emotions and attitudes.

For example, you might ask yourself why:

  • You like employee A more than employee B
  • You got so triggered when your coworker said X
  • You’re so against doing business with a specific company

The second essential skill in EQ: Self-management

In EQ, self-management is your ability to manage your behaviors, thoughts, and emotions consciously and productively.

Someone with strong self-management skills knows what to do and how to act in different situations. For instance, they are experts at controlling their anger, and avoiding distractions. They both know what to do to reach their goals and they follow through on their plan.

If you’re good at self-management, you’re probably a specialist at not making a mountain out of a molehill.

Self-management means you understand your responsibilities in different aspects of your life. But also, that you do what you need to do to fulfill your responsibilities.

Do you consistently catch yourself staying up way too late just because you want to watch another episode of your favorite TV show, even when you know tomorrow is jam-packed with work?

Have you ever missed a deadline because you pushed off on a big project for too long?

These are signals that ignorance is not a bliss and you may need to work on your self-management capabilities.

The third essential skill in EQ: Social Awareness

Social awareness is the first step toward leading others. This includes both as a leader and also in sales when you need to lead a prospecting into a change.

In EQ, Social awareness is best described as your ability to walk in someone else’s shoes. Seeing the world from another person’s point of view and applying that understanding to interact with them.

What are the components of social awareness in EQ?

They are:

  • Emotional self-awareness – this means you understand your feelings and how they impact other people in your surroundings.
  • Self-regulation – this is the art of controlling your response to emotions.
  • Motivation – your ability to use emotional factors to learn more and achieve your goals.
  • Empathy – the skill of considering the emotions and circumstances of others
  • Respect – having regard for the feelings, wishes, and rights of others
  • Kindness – means you are being friendly, generous, and considerate.
  • Active listening – is when you are paying attention and taking time to understand what is being said.
  • Collaboration – when you are finding ways to work with others to help achieve shared goals.

According to Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman, you can also break empathy into three additional levels. They are:

Cognitive empathy

It’s when you recognize, imagine and understand another person’s thoughts and feelings. Meaning that you practice your cognitive empathy when you are taking other people’s perspectives.

You imagine that you are in another person’s situation, and you understand why they might be feeling sad or disappointed. Cognitive empathy is what helps you convey a message in a way that best reaches the other person.

Emotional empathy

It is related to how you respond with an appropriate emotion toward someone else’s thoughts and feelings. Psychologists say this helps us genuinely connect with others.

Compassionate empathy

It’s the ability to truly connect and feel someone else’s thoughts and feelings in such a way that it leads you into concrete action, helping to relieve it. Compassionate empathy is seen as the key to why humans connect.

The fourth essential skill in EQ: Relationship Management

Relationship management is using your awareness of your emotions and other people’s emotions to manage interactions successfully. It’s the ability to build value-adding relationships. It also involves clear communication and effective conflict management.

Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman say the competencies involved in managing relationships include:

  • Developing others
  • Inspirational leadership
  • Change catalyst
  • Influence
  • Conflict management
  • Teamwork

A person strong in the area of relationship management understands and realizes the value of building relationships, even with people they don’t get along with.

Maybe you’ve heard about the golden rule?

It means that you should treat others the same way you would like to be treated. However, when it comes to relationship management. The golden rule is great for basic respect toward each other but your relationship management. It’s a pretty bad rule.

Here’s a new rule that’s way better for relationship management: it’s called the platinum rule.

The platinum rule states that you should treat others the way they want to be treated. This means it accommodates others’ feelings and it shifts the focus of relationships. Instead of saying “this is what I want so I’ll give everyone else the same thing” you should think “let me first understand what other people want so I can give it to them”.

You might be good at setting goals for your job, physique, finances, or hobby. But when was the last time you set goals for your relationships?

Building strong and long-lasting relationships takes time and effort. Make sure you come up with a strategy for how you want to approach your relationships and make sure you also turn it into an action plan.

Conclusion on EQ and its importance on your career

EQ is the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. Research has found that EQ accounts for more than half of performance in all types of jobs.

Luckily EQ can be improved upon practice if you target the following areas:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

What area would you like to improve first?