The Real Value of Emotional Intelligence
Everyone wants to achieve professional success, yet only some of us are able to rise to the top of our fields. What is it that sets those people apart? Is there some special skill set that separates top performers from the rest of the crowd?
As it turns out, there is. Research shows that individuals with a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) achieve success more often than their less-endowed peers. The ability to confidently navigate interpersonal relationships is incredibly useful professionally, regardless of the industry.
Luckily, these skills can be learned and strengthened over time. Read on below to find out more about the ways in which having a healthy EQ can help you at work and in your personal life. By the end, you’ll be ready to give your emotional intelligence a workout.
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What is Emotional Intelligence?
For years, emotional intelligence - sometimes referred to as an Emotional Quotient (EQ) - couldn’t be nailed down. It was just an inherent quality that some people had, an “extra something” that allowed them to easily navigate social situations and achieve success where others struggled.
That is, until the 1990’s when behaviorists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term. They described it as: "a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action".
From there, the field of study grew. Much of how we define EQ today comes from psychologist -turned-writer Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. In it, he argues that this type of intelligence is a combination of the following qualities:
Self-Awareness: The ability to identify and understand one’s emotions
Self-Regulation: The ability to manage one’s own emotions in any given situation
Motivation: The drive to continue working towards a specific outcome
Empathy: The ability to identify and understand the emotions and motivations of others
- Social Skills: A deftness at facilitating communication and interpersonal relationships
Is EQ the Same as IQ?
Surprisingly, the two don’t have much to do with each other at all. In fact, according to a study by TalentSmart - a research firm dedicated to learning about emotional intelligence - people with average IQ’s overwhelmingly outperform those with exceptionally high IQ’s in job performance metrics. They found that those with average IQ’s were 70% more likely to be top-performers in their respective fields, confirming that cognitive intelligence is far from the sole predictor for success.
Luckily, though, there also another major difference between the two. While a person’s IQ will remain relatively stable throughout their lifetime, a sharper EQ can be honed over time. Part of Salovey and Mayer’s research found that continually practicing high-EQ behaviors formed new neural pathways in the brain and led to eventual behavior change, meaning that those who put effort into developing their EQ’s will eventually reap its benefits.
What Proof is There of EQ’s Benefits?
One doesn’t have to look very far to see the positive impact of high emotional intelligence. Many of society’s most high-ranking individuals count a well-developed EQ among their positive attributes. The list ranges from powerful business leaders like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to celebrities like Matt Damon and Oprah.
However, even those who have yet to achieve that level of notoriety, a high-EQ has very concrete benefits. By the numbers, TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers across all job industries possess a high EQ and that their emotional skill set directly contributed to 58% percent of their positive job performance, on average.
What’s more, the same study found that emotional intelligence also has a strong financial impact. Those with a high EQ outearn their peers by approximately $29,000 per year, or $1,300 per every extra point they score above the national average of 75 on TalentSmart’s Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® exam.
Interestingly, the monetary benefits are most apparent in industries where EQ is already the highest. In the top-ranked industries - human resources, government, and pharmaceuticals - the average income bump per EQ point was $2,809, $2,434, and $1,479, respectively.
Are There Consequences to Low EQ?
Unsurprisingly, just as strong levels of emotional intelligence have positive impacts on job industry, low levels are inversely negative. While some of these impacts result in minor inconveniences to our day-to-day, others can be life-threatening.
Doctors, for example, tend to have fairly low emotional quotients, which can greatly impacts their patient outcomes. According to a report by the Joint Commission, a nonprofit that provides accreditation to health care organizations, found that communication failure - not a provider’s lack of technical skill - was at the root of over 70 percent of serious adverse health outcomes in hospitals.
The New York Times article that reported these findings also asserts that, on average, a doctor will interrupt his or her patient after listening to just 18 seconds of hearing them describe their symptoms. According to the article, two-thirds of patients also report leaving the hospital without ever being told their official diagnosis.
However, healthcare isn’t the only industry that’s suffering. The IT also reports overall low levels of empathy among its employees. As does real estate. In fact, nearly 26% of agents feel that they have trouble getting on the same “emotional wavelength” as their clients. In that case, though, the notable exception is luxury agents, who share many of the same emotional skills as other high-end business leaders.
The bottom line is: there’s no escaping EQ. In both our professional or personal lives, the ability to deftly navigate interpersonal is the key to success. Since the attributes that make up emotional intelligence can be honed over time, there’s no reason to shirk its importance. Make it a habit to practice high-EQ skills in your daily life.