Emotional Intelligence: What's The Big Deal?

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, has become a buzzword across industries. But what really is it? Is it worth our time? Is it worth our attention?

If emotional intelligence is a new concept to you, then take a peek at  ‘Example of Emotional Intelligence’. Through the wisdom and humour of The American Office, you will quickly see what is bad emotional intelligence and what is good emotional intelligence. Plus Steve Carell is great, so you may wish to watch it anyway, even if you’re an EQ guru.

Personally, for a beginner to this subject, I would recommend Steven Stein’s Emotional Intelligence for Dummies. I know Daniel Goleman is the popular name associated with EQ, but I think it’s good to get a wider perspective, and Steven Stein does this well. He takes you through all aspects of EQ in a very approachable way. He also analyses the different tests you can use, and shows different methods to help improve your own emotional intelligence. I find his simple definition very useful:

It involves the ability to recognize your own emotions as well as the emotions of other people. It includes understanding emotions. It also has to do with how you manage your emotions and how you manage other people’s emotions.

So essentially emotional intelligence is ‘self skills’, and ‘people skills’ packed into one. If you’ve had a bad day, and you start yelling at everyone, then you’ve had a bad ‘self skills’ day. If someone else is having a bad day, and you’re completely oblivious and put extra pressure on them, then this is bad ‘people skills’.

Unless you’re planning the hermit lifestyle anytime soon (and there is nothing wrong with that), learning how to interact efficiently with others, is vital, and proven to aid your success. Just read this article ‘Why You Need Emotional Intelligence To Succeed’.

The part about emotional intelligence I find really interesting, and hadn’t really considered before, is the importance of knowing yourself. Research shows that understanding yourself better, means you will be able to understand others better. If you can’t make sense of your own emotions, how are you supposed to deal with the emotions of others? As I looked further into it, I realised this self awareness and self knowledge, is also intrinsically linked with decision making and taking charge of your life. Here is a great article explaining why good decision making is actually linked to having high emotional intelligence Huffington Post: Emotional Intelligence and Decision Making.

To discover what kind of self-knowledge you have, or how you can improve yours, I really recommend reading this The Book of Life’s article ‘Know Yourself’. After reading this article, I have promised to take 15 minutes to sit down and really think about these questions, as I found I couldn’t give a distinct answer to quite a few!

So if you don't know about EQ, or you've paid the new buzzword little attention, it seems like it's a good time to start brushing up your knowledge. Research conducted by the Levo Institue  points towards it becoming a necessity in the the workplace. Millennials believe it's an integral part of developing a career, and like it or not, they are the next generation of leaders. 

80% of surveyed millennials are focusing on their emotional intelligence as they believe it's linked with career progression

87% of surveyed millennials are more motivated by leaders with higher emotional intelligence

It seems they are a generation that are already connected with the necessity of understanding themselves and understanding what makes others tick. If a company wants to hold on to the next generation of key talent and leaders, they will need to improve their culture of EQ. 

OK, so we know emotional intelligence is important. How can you really make sure you are trying to be more ‘emotionally intelligent’? I would actually recommend reading Steven Stein’s book. But for those with less time, he’s luckily also written a quick ‘how to’ http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-ways-to-improve-your-emotional-intelligence.html

So for the hermit, the business minded, or the avid socialiser, developing emotional intelligence makes sense, and perhaps should be seen a bit like doing yoga or exercising. Obviously you can get by without keeping your body in good shape, but things are a lot easier if you do look after it.