What You Need to Know about Emotional Intelligence and Being Your Best Self

People with a high EQ often outperform their peers, make more money, and build better relationships throughout their careers.

Do you consider yourself to be a well-rounded, intelligent, successful person? If so, why? What do you have that others don't?


Perhaps you are smart, technically gifted, and you excel at the mechanics of your job. But, have you been promoted as swiftly as you'd like? Are your professional relationships as good as you'd like?


If you feel your career has stalled, or if your relationships could be better, increasing your emotional intelligence could give you a much needed boost. Research shows that people of average intelligence often outperform those with the highest intelligence 70 percent of the time. Why? Some 90 percent of top performers have a high level of emotional intelligence.


Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to understand and control your emotions, and it's something you can learn, improve, and measure. To be a good leader, you need to have a high enough IQ. To be a great leader, you also need a high EQ. Further, if you want to be successful, your EQ can be more important than your IQ.


The term "emotional intelligence" was coined in 1990 by researchers, John Mayer and Peter Salovey and later popularized in 1995 by psychologist Daniel Goleman with publication of his book, Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ.


It's literally all in your head. Your EQ lives in the neurotransmitters in the limbic system of your brain. There, feelings, impulses, and drives are managed and can change through motivation and practice. For example, if you get upset when things do not go your way, you can learn how to practice being in control. Alternatively, your IQ calls your neocortex home and controls your analytical and technical abilities, concepts, and logic.


Dr. Goleman created a model that breaks EI — he prefers EI rather than the popular vernacular, EQ — into four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The first step on the journey to a high emotional intelligence is to be aware of your emotions.


Being self-aware is not as easy as it sounds, however. These days most of us are too busy to think, let alone think about how we feel, but we should. A good practice is to keep a journal, and every day write down three emotions you felt that day. Think about how you felt and why you felt that way. If you're brave, ask others how they see you. You might be surprised and learn something new about yourself. Once you master self-awareness, then you can move on to the other domains. But, you'll need to be motivated to be successful.


As you question your motivation to discover and possibly increase your EQ, consider that you are born with your IQ, within a range. Your IQ will remain relatively constant throughout your adult life, although it can decrease with age. On the other hand, your EQ can increase as you learn. Engage your neurotransmitters, and tell your limbic system to get cracking, and you will increase your EQ. Interestingly, your EQ may also improve as you age due to maturity.


If you need a little boost to begin your quest to a higher EQ, you can read myriad research that posits EQ is more important than IQ. For instance, Google conducted a 10-year research project to determine what makes a great manager at the company. The project, called "Project Oxygen," concluded that emotional intelligence was more important than technical skill. That's telling since Google is one of the most impactful, recognizable technology companies in the world.


If you are still not convinced, then consider your income. According to TalentSmart, someone with a high EQ will earn on average $29,000 more per year than someone with a low EQ.


How do you know if you have a low or high level of emotional intelligence? Well, you probably have a pretty good idea already. Can you control your emotions? Do you have excellent interpersonal skills? If yes, you're on your way to a high EQ. 


However, there are many different tests you can access to find out your EQ. Please be aware that the focus may vary by analysis. Some test examples include the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) or the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) developed by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis.


If you want to be your best, well-rounded, successful self, you need to be skilled in social codes and have high emotional intelligence. Consider working on your EQ. Do some research, or, reach out to a coach like me who can help you. I coach emotional intelligence, and I'd love to help you reach your highest potential personally and professionally.

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©2020 Heidi Dulebohn. Created by Idea Booth.