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Emotional Intelligence: What It Is, How to Get It, and How to Use It

Many things factor into a person’s success: intellect, skill, resourcefulness, knowledge, drive, etc. But there is one factor that most successful people share—a high EQ.

EQ is emotional intelligence, the ability to use your emotions in a positive and constructive way in relationships with others. It’s about reading and understanding the emotions of others and engaging people in a way that brings them towards you, not away from you. It’s about being “choiceful” in how you interact and engage with them.

Many studies show that EQ is a much more accurate determinant for success and career growth than technical skills or a high IQ. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the biggest reason that managers fail is because of poor interpersonal skills. Another survey showed that EQ accounts for an 85 percent difference between a good leader and an excellent leader.

Simply put, whatever your position—leader, manager, co-worker, self-employed, intern, assistant—people with great interpersonal skills (those who are more attuned to the emotions of others) are more successful. The higher your EQ the more successful you will be.

EQ at Work

The workplace is a social network. It’s a hotbed of emotions, egos, stress, and conflict. Emotional intelligence can help you:

  • Develop robust relationships
  • Solve problems using both logic and feelings
  • Maintain an optimistic and positive outlook
  • Cultivate flexibility in stressful situations
  • Help others express their needs
  • Respond to difficult people and situations calmly and thoughtfully, and
  • Respond to change with grace and calm

EQ is important for managing change, understanding the political landscape for a new project, dealing well with setbacks or workplace obstacles, motivating and influencing others, and working with or for a team with different personalities.

Emotional Intelligence really comes into play when managing and dealing with difficult people, including customers, employees, colleagues, and bosses. Your ability to understand and empathize goes a long way.

EQ is critical for any person, in any position, who deals with other people. Even if you are self-employed you still have to engage with others (in fact, when you’re self-employed that may be even more important).

Developing your EQ 

Some people are born with natural EQ skills. In certain fields, EQ often goes hand in hand with success, like sales. Many companies actually use EQ competency testing as criteria for selection into highly engaging positions like sales. A recent survey showed that companies that selected their sales people by using EQ competency criteria decreased their first year turnover rate by a whopping 63 percent.

But EQ can also be taught, and many companies hire consultants (like me!) to host workshops to train employees on emotional intelligence. Ask HR if they have an EQ workshop or training. If not, you can develop it on your own.

The Four Factors of EQ

Emotional intelligence may come easily for some, harder for others. It’s about paying attention to other people, engaging them, and developing solid interpersonal skills. There are four basic competencies involved in EQ. These are the things you need to develop:

  1. Self-Awareness: This is recognizing how emotions affect your performance, and it requires a candid self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Self-aware individuals are reflective and learn from experience. They are open to candid feedback, new perspectives, and self-development.
  1. Self-Management: This is basically self-control, the ability to manage or control your own emotions, internal states, impulses, and reactions. It means being choiceful in your interactions with and reactions to others. People with the ability to self-manage are perceived as trustworthy, conscientious, adaptable, innovative, and optimistic.
  1. Awareness of Others (Social Awareness): This is the awareness of other people’s feelings, needs, and concerns. It means having empathy, seeking to understand others, and being able to read and tune in to the emotional state of others. Social awareness skills include understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity, and having political awareness.
  1. Relationship Management: This competency is about successfully engaging with others. It includes the ability to communicate, relate, and listen well to others and to induce desirable responses in them. People with this ability understand that emotions are contagious. They can adapt their communication styles to people and situations.

Take One of These EQ Tests

EQ is pretty basic, really. It’s all about developing your interpersonal skill set, which requires an understanding of your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. The place to start  is deterring your own level of emotional intelligence. There are lots of great books out there, like “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman. There a re lots of resources on the web, like this article: 


Or just jump right into it by taking an EQ test, like these easy ones from the web:



http://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=3037 (Be warned: this one has 146 questions!)

Once you know where you stand EQ-wise, you’ll know what to work on. EQ is a new key to success, and it’s something you can develop, like any skill. 

Good luck!

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