Roberta Ann Moore of ‘EQ-i Coach’: Emotional Intelligence; What It Is, Why It Is So Essential, And How We Can Increase It
The Stress Management composite subscales are: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance, and Optimism. A wonderful exercise to increase your Stress Tolerance is to figure out how to add meditation or journal-writing into your schedule. Stress Tolerance is the ability to take things in stride without being emotionally thrown off course when a crisis hits or things get rough. We all need to fortify ourselves in advance by having a yoga practice or some type of exercise or calming ritual. An example could be practicing deep breathing five minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Do this and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll be able to self-regulate your emotions.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Roberta Ann Moore.
Roberta Moore, founder of EQ-i Coach and author of Emotion at Work: Unleashing the Secret Power of Emotional Intelligence, utilizes her extensive background as an accomplished business executive and licensed therapist to help executives, business teams, and sales teams achieve workplace and personal success. As a therapist for nearly two decades and a member of the Forbes Council of Coaches, Moore’s experience has taught her that the key skills responsible for successful personal relationships are the same ones that spark workplace success. With this discovery, Moore has been able to help companies succeed by focusing on emotional and cognitive intelligence behaviors and tools. By using specific, practiced skills, individuals learn from Moore the EQ skills needed to inspire, engage, relate, and ultimately increase productivity and profitability. For more information, please visit https://www.eqicoach.com/.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Thank you for having me! I’m excited that you’re asking me this question because my childhood experiences greatly contributed to the work I do today. I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mother had a serious mental illness that went undiagnosed because she and my father refused to recognize it. She was a very critical, angry person, and I was often her primary target. Even though my mother’s treatment of me was deeply hurtful, it shaped me into the strong, intelligent woman I am today. Her negativity motivated me to take control of my life by becoming more studious and taking school very seriously. I succeeded in getting good grades, which eventually led me to earn four degrees. Learning gave me a sense of purpose and fueled my ambition for achievement. These early experiences help me relate better to my clients because I have endured and overcome many of the same hardships that they have faced as well.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
During my first career in accounting, a friend noticed that I was having difficulty with relationships at work and in my personal life. She suggested that I see her psychotherapist. Although I was reluctant at first, it became painfully obvious that I needed help to become more emotionally mature. The psychotherapist’s name was Laura, and over time I’d say she served as a mother figure to me. Talking to her was like looking in a mirror. I would go in and tell her my stories, and she would help me organize my thoughts and feelings in order to see things more clearly. She gave me direct feedback about some of my choices and behaviors, but she did it in a compassionate and honest way. She also introduced me to the concept of Emotional Intelligence by writing what she called a “Talk Paper” based on the work of Daniel Goleman. She gave me the paper and told me that she wrote it for me because she hoped it would inspire me to develop my own emotional intelligence. I still have the yellowed copy of that paper today! We formed a close bond, and through our work together, I figured out what I wanted in my career and in my personal life. She helped me realize my passion for helping other people heal and understand themselves the same way that she had helped me. So, I returned to school for the fourth time and earned a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
Because of my work with Laura, I met the man who became my husband, and we moved to follow his career opportunities. This was in the days before virtual counseling, so I had to find another therapist. This time I chose a strong, wise, and gentle man — Dr. Keith Parker — who was a trained Jungian Analyst. Like me, he had lived in Europe. Moreover, he studied with Carl Jung himself. Jungian psychology is especially interesting to me because it embraces emotions as well as symbolism to create meaning and purpose in life. I was originally introduced to Jungian thought in high school when writing a paper on “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections” and later revisited it in my work with Laura. Working with Dr. Parker was like continuing a thread. We met while I was working on my Ed.S. Degree at Converse College in Spartanburg, while filming a video on Jungian-oriented therapy approaches. Months later, I traveled to his office when he granted me an interview. I was writing a paper for a pastoral counseling class, attempting to prove that Jungian therapy was an approach well-suited to the South. Keith was a successful example of what I was trying to illustrate. It was during this encounter that I felt drawn to work with him. While Laura became a mother figure, Keith was like a father to me. I found support in Keith’s compassionate words. In addition, he was already a successful published author and gave me the encouragement I needed to write my own book.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I think it would be my whole first career: becoming an accountant and a CPA. I am a people person, as you may have learned by now. On the Myers-Briggs, I am an ENFJ, which means I get a lot of my energy from interacting with people and listening to other ideas. Conversely, most successful accountants are introverts who enjoy working alone. Always persistent, I tried my best to fit in at different firms, including performing the role of practice development. This was decades ago, before the time when public accounting changed and recognized they needed to employ salespeople dedicated solely to business development. In the old model, one had to be chargeable and billable to clients, or else you were considered administrative. I was tasked with doing tax returns with a productivity goal while doing business development at the same time. I was too naïve to understand that serving two masters just wouldn’t work smoothly. When two different managing partners told me that I didn’t have the personality of an accountant because I was too exuberant, I took the hint and left the accounting field. I learned that it is important to have emotional self-awareness and a good understanding of how to use your skillset in order to fully embrace yourself in your career. Ironically, the firms today have dedicated salespeople, so I like to believe I was just ahead of my time!
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
There are so many things I wish I’d known when I was younger. I could write a whole book about them! In fact, I’ve already been encouraged to do that by one of my past advisors. Since all human beings have a primitive part of the brain known as the amygdala that is still active in modern life, I would want young people to know they don’t have to believe the negative things that it tells you! In fact, I spend a lot of my time explaining this to both younger and older clients. The amygdala exists to keep us physically alive, and it doesn’t know the difference between honest to goodness threats and psychological fears. It always jumps to the worst-case scenario conclusion. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that everyone had negative thoughts — I believed that it was “just me” and that something was wrong. This false assumption held me back from taking risks and trying new things. Once I learned that you can retrain your brain and reframe your negative thoughts, I started to gain momentum. I want every person to know that it is vital that we all do brain training exercises in order to achieve our fullest potential. It is also never too late to start the process. There is plenty of research indicating that late bloomers bloom brighter, and I know firsthand because I am one myself!
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
My husband and I are book people, and we’ve had to downsize and clear out our library collection several times during our marriage to make room for house moves or new books. I bet we own at least 400 physical books, so it is awfully hard to name just one. Growing up, I lived in a wooded country area several miles from the nearest town. I often felt lonely and isolated, so I buried myself in books, and the characters became my friends. Back then, reading the Bible, especially the psalms, kept me glued together with hope. All of the Nancy Drew books were also my favorites. As I grew up and started my career after graduate school, I started a routine that I keep even now: listening to self-help books, podcasts, and online radio shows. I find that they help me dispel negativity and fill me with lasting inspiration. I have been especially influenced by Carl Jung, James Hollis, Steven J. Stein, Christiane Northrup, and Marion Woodman.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
There is an old adage that really fits my life: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”. As a child, I was constantly seeking the approval of both my mother and father. Perhaps that’s another reason why I became so studious: I sought their acknowledgment and attention through accomplishment and achievement. My father was very accomplished as a successful CFO and CPA in a well-known and privately held company. He used to take me to work with him when I was on school break as a youngster, and his staff referred to me as “daddy’s little accountant.” As he was the more nurturing parent, I wanted to be just like him, so I set my sights on becoming a CPA. You may remember that my mother was very critical of me, so I had trouble believing that I could become an accountant. In truth, math and numbers didn’t come as easily to me as music, language, and verbal skills. When I got discouraged, my father used to tell me that there was only one way to learn accounting: “pushing the pencil,” which meant to keep trying until you got it right. I am a very persistent person. I never give up!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I recently became certified in an EQ-related assessment tool called the Hardiness Resilience Gauge (HRG) and have created a workshop that helps people understand their ability to bounce back from hardship and keep going by cultivating their resiliency. This is a particularly popular subject due to the stresses of the pandemic and the current political divide. People who take the workshop have told me they gained practical tools that helped them better understand themselves and have resources to cope better during a crisis. I am also creating a new workshop based on the need for increased empathy skills, including self-empathy. Cultivating empathy skills (as well as emotional self-awareness) helps people reach across an unconscious divide and better understand people who think differently from them, so this workshop is a perfect support for diversity and inclusion efforts. I am currently being hired by healthcare and financial institutions to help their leaders develop these skills, and I am excited to be a part of helping them become their best!
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?
I am someone who prefers to teach what I know through cognitive learning and emotional experience. When I was younger, I felt truly desperate to survive in the dog-eat-dog business world, as well as in my personal life. As a child, I received little emotional guidance, so as a young adult, I sought out role models who would share their experiences and advice, but I almost always ended up choosing the wrong ones. In my youth, I suffered from severe anxiety and occasional depression to the point of suicidal ideation. Using the concepts of psychotherapy and emotional intelligence, I was able to recover from those symptoms. Today, I live a life full of meaning, purpose, and happiness, and that is what I want to help others achieve as well. In my research, I found that the EQ-i 2.0 assessment model (owned by MHS, Inc.) was the most scientifically valid, reliable, and thorough, so I chose to become certified in EQ-i 2.0. Working with my clients to refine my skill set, as well as writing my book, has helped me better understand how to help people build valuable emotional intelligence skills.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
This is an excellent question, as there are many different definitions. My favorite one comes from Aristotle, who is considered the Father of Emotional Intelligence. He once said, “Anyone can become angry — that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not easy.” In my webinars and public speaking engagements, I like to use this analogy: imagine EQ as a card deck, where each card in the deck is a different emotion. You can shuffle the deck and choose just the right card (emotion) to play at just the right time. The key here is your ability to choose which emotion is most productive to a situation, instead of the emotion choosing (and controlling) you. The EQ-I 2.0 assessment model defines emotional intelligence as a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. It’s important to note that EQ is much different than IQ, as EQ skills are non-cognitive and have to do with our ability to objectively assess our own strengths and weaknesses, including false assumptions, unconscious biases, and short-sighted/self-defeating beliefs. This includes our ability to read other people, assess cultural/political environments, and dovetail our needs and wants with those of others in the landscape we see.
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
As I mentioned, EQ refers to a set of non-cognitive skills, while IQ refers to cognitive ability. IQ is a measure of a person’s information bank: memory, vocabulary, mathematical skills, and visual-motor coordination. Cognitive intelligence encompasses the ability to concentrate, plan, and organize material; to use words; and to understand, assimilate, and interpret facts. Both IQ and EQ are important to an individual’s overall success in life. A person has to have enough IQ to learn the skills necessary to hold a particular job. However, once they have the job, research shows that it is their EQ skills that predict overall career success. Studies show that IQ predicts 6% of an individual’s career success, while EQ predicts 27–45%. Moreover, IQ tends to remain fixed over time, typically peaking around age 17. EQ is a skill that can be learned or improved by anyone, at any age, at any time. I find that incredibly hopeful and motivating!
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
One research study showed that the most profitable CEOs (those that add the most to the bottom line) were high in three EQ skills: assertiveness, self-regard, and empathy. In addition, Star Performers (those who score in the top 1% of EQ) add 127% more profit to the bottom line. If you want to be promoted, make more money, or be healthier and more influential in your business and personal relationships, developing your EQ is the key. One of the most prominent examples that comes to mind is a client I wrote about in my book, whom I called Cindy. This client was very technically skilled, with a lot of practical experience in the financial industry. While she stood head and shoulders above her colleagues in technical proficiency, she lacked assertiveness and impulse control, which tended to derail her success. In fact, her preoccupation with extraneous details caused her to make a particularly critical mistake that could have cost her job. This served as a serious wake-up call, and Cindy became more motivated to acknowledge her short-comings, roll up her sleeves, and get to work on her non-cognitive abilities. Step by step, working through emotional exercises together both on and off the job, she became so proficient at controlling her concentration and minimizing self-defeating behaviors that she was tapped for a much-coveted promotion! Today she is identified as a rising star and a high potential employee who has been given more responsibility. Additionally, she reports being happier and feeling more confident in both her business and personal life.
Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.
Remember the story about my childhood upbringing? One of the ways that experience affected me was that I became a perfectionist, which was a strength to a fault and affected my self-esteem. In the early days of my career, this manifested as me being particularly sensitive to criticism in a way that was a low EQ response. In short, I would cry at work whenever someone told me I could have done a better job. My low self-regard meant that I had trouble standing up for myself, and my lack of assertiveness often meant I lacked initiative and did not speak up in meetings when I should have expressed my point of view. It also was a barrier in my personal life: when I was young, I was incapable of sustaining committed relationships. While working with Laura was the start of me increasing my EQ, nothing helped as much as when I took the EQ-i 2.0 assessment as part of my certification training. I was shocked and amazed that after so many years of therapy, I scored in a medium range with lots of highs and lows: not the picture of high EQ I had the hubris to expect! This was a truly humbling experience and a turning point, too. I did some research and discovered Dr. Dana Ackley, an author and expert in the EQ-I 2.0 assessment model. I reached out to him, and he coached me in this model for a couple of years. In addition, I dug deep and focused on building the skills I needed to become more successful. A few years later, when being reassessed as part of a subsequent training/certification, I was thrilled to find my overall score dramatically improved, and I was well-balanced in the high range. That is the particular beauty of this model: if you put the effort in, you will absolutely reap the rewards of increasing your EQ skills in a balanced way!
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world?
One example would be my own. As I mentioned previously, I started out with low self-regard and assertiveness. When presented with a new opportunity for a challenge, I would initially accept it, but then I would lose steam listening to my self-deprecating thoughts. I thought I couldn’t do new things because I didn’t have a track record of success. I had a lot of trouble struggling to believe I could actually write a book or start an executive coaching business. Ironically, once I wrote the book and started my coaching business, I realized there was no special mystery about either one! Like most things in life, starting something new is a step-by-step process: pay attention to taking the next right step, and the one after that evolves and becomes clear. Borrowing from a research study indicating that the most successful CEO’s are high in assertiveness, confidence, and empathy, I created an acronym from three of the EQ Skills that contribute to success — Assertiveness, Confidence, and Empathy — and wrote the chapter, “ACE Your EQ” in the international bestselling book The Anatomy of Accomplishment: Your Guide to Bigger, Better, Bolder Business Results. In it, I describe how developing these three skills helped me grow my business. I wanted readers to understand that there’s no great mystery to success: when they cultivate these particular EQ skills, they have the recipe for becoming a successful entrepreneur or business leader. In November, I will celebrate my 20-year business anniversary!
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
One of the most poignant examples comes from the progress of a client whom I will call Victor. When we started working together, Victor was having trouble being an effective leader because he lacked empathy and interpersonal relationship skills. As so often happens, leaders find themselves in positions of authority because they are goal-driven, hard-charging, high achievers who make things happen. Sometimes they value numbers and productivity over people and prioritize work over their personal lives. As a result, their most important relationships suffer. They often have trouble admitting they need help, so many times it’s only when things get really grim that they finally reach out. When they learn that having high EQ skills actually helps people become more productive, profitable, and personally fulfilled, they become more open to shoring up their lowest EQ skills. This was true of Victor. In my couples therapy work, I’d noticed that people who lack happiness or stability at home usually bring those emotions to work with them. This negatively affects their ability to lead their team, as they might be perceived as cold, uncaring, or too busy to be approachable. Such was the case with Victor. As we worked together to increase his emotional self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal relationships, Victor became a more approachable, empathetic leader. To his astonishment, his sales production numbers increased, as did his employee retention, satisfaction, and happiness. At the same time, our work together bled over into Victor’s personal life, helping him to strengthen his relationships with his wife and children, too.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
One of the 16 EQ skills in the model I use is Impulse Control, or the ability to resist or delay an impulse, drive, or temptation to act. In mental health, the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, book by the American Psychiatric Association) identifies a condition called Impulse Control Disorder. Impulse Control Disorder (ICD) is a class of psychiatric disorders characterized by impulsivity — failure to resist a temptation, an urge, or an impulse — or having the inability to refrain from speaking their thoughts. People with Impulse Control Disorder often struggle with addictions. I have found that helping clients learn to increase their impulse control by helping them practice patience and commit to their goals can often decrease or even extinguish their addiction(s) over time. I have worked with several clients who were so addicted to looking at social media while at work that it broke their concentration and negatively affected their work performance. Once they built up their impulse control, they were also able to decrease their dependence on social media and improve their performance enough to be positively recognized by a promotion or large bonus. Another example that ties to mental health is helping clients to improve their self-regard, or how they feel about themselves and their ability to see themselves as good. People with higher self-regard are usually more confident and better able to express themselves in a way that commands respect from their peers.
Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.
There are five composites in the EQ model, and each has three subscales:
- The Self-Perception composite subscales are: Self-Regard, Self-Actualization, and Emotional Self-Awareness. One of my favorite exercises increases Self-Regard. Take a stack of index cards and write one of your strengths or skills on each card. An example would be “I am a skilled executive coach”. Then read them out loud in front of a mirror. Do this daily for 30 days, and you will be amazed by the increase in your self-assurance.
- The Self-Expression composite subscales are: Emotional Expression, Assertiveness, and Independence. One of my favorite exercises to increase Self-Expression is for Assertiveness. You can use it when you have a meeting or conversation that you know will be intense or off-putting. Take time to bullet point your talking points and rehearse them in advance. It’s even better if you can role play this with your coach or a friend. You will be surprised at how calm you feel when the moment arrives.
- The Interpersonal Relationships composite subscales are: Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy, and Social Responsibility. One of my favorite exercises for Interpersonal Relationships is to take an inventory of all your relationships. Write them down and then analyze them to see if the give-and-take is mutual and reciprocal. If any are out of balance, strategize to see how you can bring them into better alignment and you will see how much your energy increases. You might discover that some relationships may need to end or dramatically change.
- The Decision-Making composite subscales are: Problem Solving, Reality Testing, and Impulse Control. In order to increase your Impulse Control, practice your patience. Pick an area of your life where you know you have a problem with impulse control, and practice being patient. For example, if you have problems interrupting people when they are talking, pick someone to listen to and practice staying silent while you focus on what they are saying. Doing this will also increase your empathy skills at the same time.
- The Stress Management composite subscales are: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance, and Optimism. A wonderful exercise to increase your Stress Tolerance is to figure out how to add meditation or journal-writing into your schedule. Stress Tolerance is the ability to take things in stride without being emotionally thrown off course when a crisis hits or things get rough. We all need to fortify ourselves in advance by having a yoga practice or some type of exercise or calming ritual. An example could be practicing deep breathing five minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Do this and you’ll be surprised how much better you’ll be able to self-regulate your emotions.
Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
In the past, both businesses and schools have been short-sighted by focusing primarily on IQ. Thankfully, that is changing now, and experts and materials on emotional intelligence specifically for students now exist. One of the leading authorities is former professor Dr. Korrel Kanoy, who has authored four different books on this topic, including “The Student EQ Edge: Your Academic and Personal Success.” I would advise our educational system to provide students with methods of assessing and building emotional intelligence skills as a way to help them better prepare for adult life. There are cognitive-behavioral skill-building exercises available that work to build all EQ skills. What about having a year-long class that incorporates these concepts for each student? Schools would turn out graduates that were more productive, profitable, and personally fulfilled. Who wouldn’t want that?
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
As I already hinted at, I value the role that empathy skills can play at helping people of different perspectives understand, accept, and respect each other. It would be my dream that every leader (corporate, political, church/faith, even parents) would learn about Emotional Intelligence and want to take an EQ assessment to determine their level of empathy. Then if they fell short, they’d want to get the coaching and do the skill-building to increase their skill to a high level. If every leader had high empathy (balanced with high assertiveness and self-regard), I could imagine a world where we were more collaborative, cooperative and less judgmental.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
I would want to sit down and talk with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who has openly shared in various interviews how important emotional intelligence (particularly the skill of empathy) has been in his life and career. One of my favorite quotes came from him speaking to students on NDTV: “In the long run, EQ trumps IQ.” I would like to know if he would agree with me that emotional intelligence training should be required learning and a pre-requisite for graduation from universities or even from high school!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website, www.eqicoach.com, is a great place to keep up with my speaking events and new services, learn more about emotional intelligence in general, and sign up for my e-newsletter, where I share tips and resources on improving emotional intelligence and becoming more productive and successful. People can also follow EQ-i Coach on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, where I regularly contribute articles about the role of emotional intelligence in our personal and professional lives.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.