Emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to manage both our own and other people’s emotions - has been reported to be a determining factor for job success and happiness. In other words, it is what makes some people more successful in work and life. Galit Meisler, a researcher at the University of Haifa in Israel argues that employees with a higher level of emotional intelligence are an asset to their organisation. The scholar predicts that “it will not be long before emotional intelligence is incorporated in employee screening and training processes and in employee assessment and promotion decisions”.
Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who coined the term emotional intelligence, argues that there are five key components involved in the concept of EQ: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skills and empathy. You might be strong in some of these areas and weak in others, but we all have the potential to improve any of them. EQ is not fixed; it can change over time. You can train yourself to have a higher EQ, by being mindful and attentive, more agile with emotions, or taking the dive into coaching.
So, how emotionally intelligent are you? I outline some key signs to help you figure that out.
You are Self-Aware
A central aspect of being self-aware is to be honest with yourself about who you are. An emotionally intelligent person is able to objectively assess his strengths and weaknesses, and accepts these things about himself. According to Goleman, this awareness fosters the strong self-confidence which is a key factor of EQ. He notes that “If you know what you're truly effective at, then you can operate from that with confidence".
Self-awareness is also about recognising emotions when they arise, rather than misidentifying or ignoring them. Emotionally intelligent people take a step back from their emotions and examine what they are feeling.
You’re Curious About People You Don’t Know
If you love meeting new people and you are naturally interested in learning more about these people, then you probably have a certain degree of empathy, which is a primary element of emotional intelligence. Highly Empathetic People (HEPs) are extremely attuned to the needs and feelings of people who are outside of their usual social circle and act in a way that is sensitive to those needs.
You Know how to pay Attention
The ability to withstand distractions and remain focused on the task at hand is a central component in developing EQ. The more focused you are, the more you are able to form strong relationships and cultivate self-knowledge. Goleman underlines that, "Your ability to concentrate on the work you're doing or your schoolwork, and to put off looking at that text or playing that video game until after you're done...how good you are at that in childhood turns out to be a stronger predictor of your financial success in adulthood than either your IQ or the wealth of the family you grew up in.”
You Know When to say ‘no’
Being able to discipline yourself and avoiding unhealthy habits indicate that you have a strong sense of self-regulation, one of the five elements of EQ. Emotionally intelligent people are in principle well equipped to tolerate stress and control their impulses.
You Take Time to Slow Down and Help Others
The habit of slowing down to care about others, whether by going slightly out of your way to say hello to someone or help a colleague with a broken leg, is a demonstration of emotional intelligence. Being more mindful and more attentive to others; makes it easier for compassion – a crucial component of EQ - to develop.
After you Fall, you get it Right Back up
Finally, how people deal with failures and setbacks says a lot about who they are. A common principle high EQ individuals share is their philosophy to keep on going. Emotionally intelligent persons who experience a failure or setback, are able to bounce back quickly. This is partially owed to their ability to sensibly control negative emotions, which provides them with a higher degree of resilience.
All in all, the way we deal with and regulate our emotions can have a crucial impact on our personal development, growth and success in every aspect of our life. People who are confident, sociable, sensitive, flexible, self-constrained and resilient are those who inherently feature emotional intelligence and are most likely to thrive professionally. After all these are the sort of qualities which any employer would look for in their employees.