Why EQ tops IQ

Emotional intelligence (also known EQ – emotional quotient) is a valuable asset to develop when it comes to surviving and thriving in today’s busy and pressured world. It helps to improve work, physical and mental wellbeing, relationships and self-confidence.

You might be the most intelligent person in the room (with a high IQ – intelligence quotient), though, in today’s busy, pressurised world, if you fail to get your message across in a way that will engage and involve others, you’re unlikely to succeed. If people are afraid to approach you, unable to trust you, find you inconsistent, aggressive and irrational, they’re unlikely to feel motivated, confident, secure, engaged and inspired to support you.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. It’s a vital asset because it helps build stronger relationships, increases the chances of success, and helps achieve career and personal goals. It enables a connection with your own and others’ feelings and facilitating measured, rational reactions and informed decisions.

Emotional intelligence is generally defined in four key areas:

Self-management – your ‘moral compass’; the ability to control your reactions, feelings and impulses in a healthy, productive way. This helps you adapt to changing circumstances, process information safely, follow through on commitments, and keep calm and in control.

Self-awareness – your ‘mood barometer’; The ability to recognise and process your own emotions which helps you to manage and control your own thinking. By understanding your own strengths, limitations and beliefs, you can moderate your behaviours and feel more confident to ‘do the right thing’.

Social awareness – your ‘empathy factor’; by putting yourself into the ‘shoes’ of others you’ll be able to understand their feelings, emotions, needs, and concerns. Picking up on their ‘signals’ and seeing things from their point of view will help you get your point across, feel more socially confident and contribute to a positive team dynamic.

Relationship management – your ‘team strength’; an emotionally intelligent approach will help create trust, mutual understanding and support, enabling you to communicate effectively, and develop and maintain relationships, communicate clearly, influence others, work well in a team, pre-empt and manage conflict, and even inspire others.

For leaders, the old dictatorial and autocratic, ‘knowledge is power’ ruthlessness has been overtaken by the need for a more human approach centring on empathy, nurturing, coaching and support. Of course, people still need direction and challenge though this needs to be facilitated in a more consultative way as it’s likely to be those ‘on the front line’ who have all the answers. The smart companies take a people-centric approach to leadership and EQ is a big part of this. An emotionally intelligent leader not only has the tools to get the job done, engaging, enabling and empowering his or her team(s), though is also better equipped to manage change, overcome obstacles and navigate complex decision making.

10 ways to improve your EQ:

Accept what you cannot change, have courage to change the things you can and develop the wisdom to know the difference

Think ahead about how you might respond to certain situations and use your assertiveness to put your points across rationally (LINK to assertiveness advice)

Pause and respond rather than reacting – count to 10 (or whatever it takes) and ask – how is my reaction helping here? Understand your ‘triggers’

Look for the positive in every situation and learn how to make the best of every challenge life throws your way

Believe in yourself and others – trust is earned by trusting others

Put yourself in others’ shoes to understand, empathise and support

Be authentic to your own values and beliefs – have the confidence to do the right thing

Give and receive feedback generously and positively – be a life-long learner

Admit mistakes and apologise, forgive others’ transgressions and never hold a grudge

Be approachable, honour commitments, aim to become ‘the voice of reason’