Understanding Emotional Intelligence
“Your EQ predicts success better than your IQ”
Empathy Quotient (EQ) is distinct and unrelated to your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and relates to an individual’s emotional intelligence (EI). The term emotional intelligence was first coined by Michael Beldoch in a 1961 paper submitted to a Psychotherapeutic Journal. Since then many psychologists have published research adding to this body of work in an effort to ascertain the importance of EQ, quantify it and develop it, and it turns out that EQ is kind of important.
The Significance of Emotional Intelligence
EQ and Financial Success
Studies by the Carnegie Institute of Technology revealed that 85% of your financial success is related to your skills in “human engineering” which includes your personality and your communication, negotiation and leadership abilities. 15% of this financial success was attributed to technical knowledge. Interestingly the former qualities in relation to earning potential are heavily associated with a person’s EQ.
EQ and Business
Daniel Kahneman, an American Psychologist found that people would rather do business with someone that they like and trust over someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product at a higher price. This finding demonstrates the impact of emotional intelligence in the form of relationship management throughout the business setting and proves that high EQ interpersonal skills are essential if not necessary for successful business.
EQ and Negotiation
Research done by Shapiro & Fisher (2005) demonstrated that negative emotions can impede the negotiation process whereas positive emotions can enhance it. Negotiations without emotion are empty transactions and can be unfulfilling. In legal dispute settings Kelly & Kaminskiene (2016) highlighted the use of positive emotions with regard to negotiation outcomes stating that emotions such as happiness, joy and acceptance enhanced decision making, stimulated creative problem solving and increased joint gains. High EQ individuals naturally engage in the use of their “emotional tools” and as such are universally effective negotiators.
EQ and Leadership
High degrees of emotional intelligence have been associated with effective leadership. A study conducted by Mittal and Sindu (2012) explored the extent to which emotion is involved with leadership qualities. Their findings highlighted emotions associated with leadership involving qualities such as empathy, communication, decision making, self-awareness and the ability of a leader to relate with people. All of these are traits of emotional intelligence.
EQ and Performance
Academic: In a study done by Parker et al. (2004) the relationship between student’s academic achievements and their emotional intelligence was explored. No significant relationship between the two was observed however subscales of emotional intelligence including intrapersonal, adaptability and stress management were moderate predictors of success. “These variables were better predictors of first-year university GPA than high school GPA”.
Work: Emotional intelligence has been positively correlated with job performance in research conducted by Shahhosseini et al. (2012). Increases in job performance were attributed to an individual’s emotional intelligence which contributed to innovational creativity and the facilitation of communication within the organisation. TalentSmart also conducted a similar study and found that EQ accounted for 58% of job success.
EQ’s significance becomes apparent through its implications in all forms of success including financial, job-related, business development, negotiating power, leadership and interpersonal relationship satisfaction- it even promotes healthier marriages (Schutte et al., 2001).
So… What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to manage, control and understand their own emotions as well as being aware of the emotions of the people around them. In doing so this allows individuals to adapt and change their behaviour to suit the environment they are in and to guide their thinking toward a more beneficial outcome. This outcome may relate to a difficult decision, job performance, interpersonal relationships or even better self-management (etc.). Another point to note is that EI is a branch of social intelligence which refers to the ability of getting along well with others and promoting co-operation.
Daniel Goleman, a leading psychologist developed a model that broke EQ down into 4 quadrants in an effort to quantify EQ and allow individuals to self -assess.
In my previous article “You Don’t Always Say What You Say and Here’s Why” I highlighted the phenomena of facial mimicry and emotional contagion which alluded to the fact that you can change someone’s physiology through emotional expressions. To add to this, Frijda & Mesquita (1994) demonstrated that emotions may join people together, repel people from each other, promote strong interpersonal bonds and are important to maintain co-operative relationships. Further research by Clark et al. (1996) implies that emotional expressions influence individual’s character judgements about a person. Van Kleef et al. (2004) even demonstrated that emotional expressions evoke complementary and reciprocal attitudes and cognitions in others.
It’s undeniable that emotions play a significant role in interpersonal interactions which are a fundamental and unavoidable part of life. As such developing your emotional intelligence is a necessity. Understanding emotion is of paramount significance if you wish to maximise the positive relationships or encounters that you engage in. Professional opportunities and business prospects arise within personal networks and chance encounters. As mentioned earlier people have a higher affinity to do business with someone they like.
Developing your Emotional Intelligence
Luckily, due to neural plasticity EQ is something that can be developed. An article published in “Mindful” cites neurobiologist Richard Davidson’s work which demonstrates the relationship of the Left Prefrontal Cortex (LPC) and the amygdala (integrative centre for emotions). As such emotions are linked in with consciousness giving them the capacity to be somewhat “managed”.
There are many positive traits associated with emotional intelligence including but not limited to extraversion, confidence and conscientiousness as determined by studies. However to increase EQ universally we will look at Salovey and Mayer’s four proposed branches of emotional intelligence: Perceiving Emotions, Reasoning with Emotions, Understanding Emotions and Managing Emotions.
1. Perceiving Emotions:
To understand emotions you first to have to perceive them. Since majority of emotional communication is non-verbal (See “You Don’t Always Say what You Say and Here’s Why”), this can be improved by becoming aware of body language cues and emotional expressions. Next time you are with someone practise observing how they are carrying themselves and what they are doing with their body. Also pay close attention to their facial expressions as this is a by-product of emotion. Becoming conscious of these non-verbal cues will help to bring awareness to people’s underlying emotional states.
Other emotions that need to be perceived are of course your own as they can significantly affect how you interact with other people and how you navigate your own life. Practise introspection and take time to become aware of your own emotional states as they are happening. The more you know about yourself and your habits the easier it is to improve in this area.
2. Reasoning with Emotions:
The perceptions of emotions allow us to determine best how to deal with them or use them in a positive way. Emotional responses occur to things that we give attention to, but more importantly can be mediated by conscious thought. Knowing this it’s important to promote logical thinking and cognitive activity which shifts the emotional cascade down a different path. For the emotions that may not easily be overcome it is important to accept them for what they are and acknowledge the reason for them existing. Emotions are temporary and the bad will inevitably pass, this is where patience does prove to be a virtue. Interestingly, a book called “The Power of Now” attributes many negative emotions to irrational thoughts relating to the past or future. Becoming aware of how emotions are affecting you in the present moment allows you to better reason with yourself and the circumstances you are in.
3. Understanding Emotions:
Emotions that we perceive can be due to many different underlying reasons. Being able to detect what emotion someone is expressing, or even emotions that you are experiencing is one thing. Understanding them is another.
Self-Analysis will help to give meaning to your own emotional states and this is something only you have the power to do. Taking the time to focus on yourself and understanding what brings about the emotions you experience is invaluable if you are to ever change the emotional loops you experience. “Know thyself” was a common aphorism amongst Greek philosophers. If, however you feel that you need a bit of help understanding them don’t hesitate to call on professionals. Objective feedback in the realm of subjectivity may prove to be the most valuable insights that you come across.
Understanding the emotions of others is just as important. This is where building empathy is a must. Putting yourself in their shoes is the simplest way to understand another. If you are unsure of why a person is experiencing certain emotions take the time to engage with them in a conversation and listen to what they have to say. Becoming sensitive and understanding to them and their feelings will not only develop rapport but will also allow you to effectively navigate this interaction.
4. Managing Emotions:
Being able to manage your emotions and the people around you effectively is arguably one of the most valuable abilities someone can have and is a hallmark of emotional intelligence.
Emotional regulation refers to the capacity to regulate your own emotions and the people’s emotions around you. Examples of this include making yourself happy by thinking of a pleasurable experience or causing someone to become angry by criticising them. Common strategies used to shift or negate personal emotional states include changing your perception of the current situation or engaging in pleasurable behaviours to occupy yourself. A good way to “reset” is to completely focus your attention onto your senses (ie. touch, vision or hearing) which forms the basis of the well-known emotional regulatory tool- meditation. Other strategies include varying your posture and facial expressions. In fact, research demonstrates that different facial expressions cause physiological changes in your body, meaning that you can theoretically influence your emotional state by changing the expressions on your face. Furthering on from this Amy Cuddy demonstrated that different postures affect hormonal levels in the body. “Powerful postures” boosted testosterone and decreased cortisol (the stress hormone). Both of these influence mood.
Managing the people’s emotions around you has a lot to do with empathising and understanding them as a person. By knowing this you are able to work with them toward a more positive outcome.
Emotions contribute immensely to our behaviours, mentality and the interactions we engage in. Acknowledging and understanding them will dramatically benefit many aspects of your life and conquering emotions is a stepping stone to success.
“Rule your mind or it will rule you” –Buddha