Scholars coined the term “emotional intelligence” or EQ in the early 1990s. The rise to prominence of this term was due to a peculiar finding surrounding the relationship of intelligence and performance.
According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of the award-winning and bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, ‘emotional intelligence has been the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.’
“This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ,” Dr. Bradberry says.
Today, decades-worth of research now gives us a clear understanding of what EQ is and its role in performance and ultimately, success.
What is EQ?
EQ, for starters, is an intangible personal trait. Emotional intelligence allows us to accurately read other people’s signal and respond to them accurately and appropriately. It is also a type of intelligence that allows us to stay sensitive to our own emotions and behavior.
Generally, EQ commands how we behave, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions. Yes, while decision-making is predominantly seen as a rational task involving IQ most of the time, according to research, EQ still governs much of our personal decision-making processes.
In his book, Emotional Intelligence, Dr. Bradberry identifies four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.
Personal competence revolves around the individual rather than the individual’s interaction with those around the self. It comprises self-awareness and self-management skills. In brief, it is our ability to stay aware of our emotions and manage our tendencies and actuation.
Social competence, on the other hand, pertains to an individual’s ability to remain sensitive to other people’s motives, moods, and behavior. It comprises social awareness and relationship management skills. In brief, it allows us to effectively and appropriately respond to social signals and manage relationships.
In different settings, EQ is also referred to as “soft skills” or “people skills”. But the generally accepted and scientific terminology for these is emotional intelligence or EQ.
The Case for EQ
Is EQ really that important for great performance and, ultimately, success? Psychologist Dr. Carey Cherniss thinks it is.
Dr. Cherniss has been studying emotional intelligence for a long time and in 1999 he published a paper citing a 19-point case for businesses to pay attention to emotional intelligence, using data from the research of others.
A great example is a case study used by Dr. Cherniss in his research is a case study which followed the hiring of sales agents for L’Oreal on the basis of certain emotional competencies.
Comparing the results of the group of sales agents hired on the basis of EQ and those hired using the typical measures (e.g. experience, education, and IQ), the case study reveals that the sales agents hired on the basis of EQ outsold other salespeople by $91,370 for a net revenue increase of $2,558,360.
If that weren’t enough, the high EQ employees had 63% less turnover during the first year than those selected in a typical manner.
The link between emotional intelligence and performance is undeniable. A study by TalentSmart which tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.
Dr. Bradberry believes that emotional intelligence is also the foundation of much of our critical thinking skills. “Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you do and says each day” Dr. Bradberry adds.
The good news is that EQ is a flexible skill set. It means that it can be acquired and refined. According to Dr. Bradberry, the plasticity of the human brain allows us to learn, unlearn, and relearn new skill sets, emotional intelligence included. The key is constant practice.
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