Did you know that people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time? This peculiar finding threw a curve into the widely held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success. It turns out that the concept of emotional intelligence serves to explain this anomaly. Decades of research indicate that emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. In fact, the connection is so strong that 90% of top performers have high emotional intelligence. Below we’re going to explore exactly what emotional intelligence (EQ) is, as well as what is needed to achieve emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is a skill
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is a skill that can be practiced and learned. More specifically, there are four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.
Personal competence is composed of your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people. It is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.
- Self-Awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen.
- Self-Management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior.
Social competence is composed of your social awareness and relationship management skills; it is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior, and motives in order to improve the quality of your relationships.
- Social-Awareness is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on.
- Relationship Management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions and the emotions of others to manage interactions successfully.
It’s all about balance
Emotional intelligence is necessary for interpersonal effectiveness. This is because our emotions profoundly affect our actions, even when we’re not always aware of them. For instance, when we feel angry, jealous, or fearful, we are likely coping with whatever stressor we are experiencing by suppressing our emotions. On the other hand, when we constantly worry and preoccupy ourselves, we become too aware of our emotions, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Cycling between avoiding emotions and ruminating prevents us from having balance and flexibility, which is exactly what we need in order to manage our emotions. Steven J. Stein, developer of the EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence test, says it perfectly in an article by Fast Company, “The ideal thing is not just getting all high scores, it’s about balance.”