Using emotions in a productive manner, using empathy to read the emotions of others and managing relationships better, are skills that all of us can benefit from. The people that have such type of skills have high degrees of Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman was one of the firsts to study Emotional Intelligence, in his famous book Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand one’s own and other people’s emotions, to categorize them appropriately and to integrate such emotional information to take adequate response in diverse types of situations. Interestingly Emotional Intelligence has been subject to immense research. Its findings have challenged the importance given to the IQ, as the best way to measure intelligence.
Can Emotional Intelligence Help You Achieving Success ?
“People with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time,”
So says Travis Bradberry (2015) writing for the World Economic Forum. You may be wondering how on earth this can be possible? After all, it makes no logical sense. Like many people you may have thought that IQ was the most important factor in achievement and success, but there is a good deal more to it than that. The key to the achievement issue is not just IQ, but also EQ, or as it is better known, “emotional intelligence”.
Emotional intelligence is not particularly easy to measure. It relates to how we behave and react to different situations. Emotional intelligence relates to both personal capabilities and abilities in the social arena. It requires being able to manage emotions more effectively. There are four aspects of emotional intelligence, which are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Some of these are affected by personal competence and others by social competence. Personal competence impacts both self-awareness and self- management. Self-awareness is the capability to understand your emotions and be aware of them as they occur, while self-management is using awareness of those emotions to decide how to handle a situation. Meanwhile social competence provides people with social awareness so that they can better understand what is going on with other people and how to work with them, as well as relationship management which is managing interactions effectively.
The Difference Between Emotional Intelligence, IQ and Personality
Some people get confused with what emotional intelligence, IQ and personality are, but they differ from one another and they are not necessarily linked. IQ does not drive emotional intelligence and some of the most traditionally “intelligent” people may have low levels of emotional intelligence. One cannot grow IQ – it is what it is. However, people can build up their skills in emotional intelligence, though some are blessed with more in this area in the first place. Meanwhile personality is not a predictor of emotional intelligence, and it also does not really change over a person’s lifetime.
Emotional intelligence does however have links to personal performance at work. Studies have shown that emotional intelligence is in fact the most important driver of performance and that it explains success in all kinds of jobs. That may be because emotional intelligence drives all kinds of interactions with people such as empathy, team work, anger management, ability to tolerate stress, handling change, customer service, presentation skills, assertiveness, flexibility and more. Indeed, Bradberry’s study found that 90% of strong performers also benefit from high emotional intelligence. It is much harder to be a very high performer without the benefit of emotional intelligence. This in itself makes quite a bit of sense – after all, people that cannot control their emotions and lose their temper are unlikely to get very far in the longer term.
An important aspect that is part of Emotional Intelligence is Empathy. In this short animated video that is based on a talk by Dr. Brené Brown, edited by RSA, the scholar mentions interesting thoughts on empathy:
How to develop emotional intelligence
The good news is that it is possible to increase emotional intelligence. The brain has to develop in certain ways to allow this to happen. This requires good communication between the rational part of the brain and its emotional part. As people learn and develop new emotional intelligence skills it is thought that branches of a tree form in the brain to reach out to other areas of the brain. This is achieved by microscopic neurons paving the way between the two centres of the brain. This helps the brain to change, and the brain’s ability to change is known as “plasticity” to neurologists. One of the amazing parts about this is that it is thought that just one cell is able to grow 15,000 connections with neighbouring cells. When this occurs it becomes easier to utilise a new behaviour pattern in the future, because the links are already there in the brain.
The thoughts and behaviours do also need to become habits, and the brain continues to work and build the required pathways for that to happen. Once this happens it becomes easier to be able to behave in an emotionally intelligent manner more often, and the brain begins to reinforce its use of new behaviours, especially when the person sees how much more effective they are. Finally the old behaviours begin to die off as the person becomes much more capable of using new techniques that are more effective.