How Does Emotional Intelligence Help Us
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Over the past few years, emotional intelligence (“EI”) has become one of the most popular workplace strategies. Many employers offer training in emotional quotient (“ EQ ”), or what some call "emotional literacy."
There are even courses that promise to improve your EI through practice exercises. Some claim that improving your emotional skills will boost your productivity, job performance, and overall happiness at work.
But is this strategy worth investing in? And if so, how can we know it works?
We asked eight experts to share their insights about the benefits of emotional intelligence and whether there are situations where it's unnecessary. All of our experts agree that while emotional intelligence is helpful in certain jobs and roles, it is not essential for every person to develop it.
In fact, some believe that developing too much empathy could have negative effects on your career. You should be able to emotionally detach from others to do your job well, they say. [8 Ways To Boost Your Emotional Quotient]
So, before you invest in an emotional skill test or course, make sure it focuses only on assessing and understanding emotions in yourself and in other people. Check out our list below of reasons why emotional intelligence isn't quite as important as many think.
Why developing emotional intelligence isn't always a good idea
Here are the top five reasons why emotional intelligence isn't always such a great thing.
Make good decisions
Recent studies show that emotional intelligence is just as important to career success as cognitive intelligence. Emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional skills include such things like empathy, self-awareness, and regulation of emotions.
When you are aware of your own feelings and those of others, you can more easily identify what needs attention and how to address them. You also know when it’s time to move on past something and start looking forward to other opportunities.
In fact, a recent study found that having high levels of EQ was one of the most predictive factors in successful job performance. The researchers determined that people with higher EQ tended to stay in their positions for longer than someone with lower EQ who had the same position.
They also noticed that people with higher EQ were less likely to push up through the ranks and get a promotion. In fact, they often didn’t even try because they knew that someone else would take over and succeed where they left off.
This doesn’t mean that everyone with low EQ stays put, but it may be part of the reason why there are so many cases of senior level professionals being passed over for a leadership role. They might not connect well with others in the organization and feel discouraged when attempts to motivate them fail.
Boost your self-confidence
Many people believe that being smart is all it takes to succeed in life. But there’s another important factor — emotional intelligence (or EQ).
Just like with IQ, there are different levels of EQ you can have at any given time. And just as having high IQ doesn’t guarantee success, neither does low EQ ensure failure.
But poor EQ can be a big disadvantage when it comes to achieving your goals. Because we spend a lot of our time trying to understand what makes someone else feel confident or insecure, we sometimes ignore how they're feeling about ourselves.
This can make us behave in ways that don't set well with their expectations, which then adds to their own stress and confusion. We might even hurt their feelings by not understanding why they think things are going wrong.
Be more charismatic
Being charismatic is not just about having lots of smiles on your face, it’s also about expressing emotion appropriately and consistently.
This could be showing strong emotions such as happiness, sadness, or anger, but it can also be using appropriate emotional tone and content in conversation. It’s keeping things related to what you’re talking about on topic and timing them properly.
Making people feel good when they are around you is a key part of being charismatic. This will make them want to spend time with you and learn from you.
It will help them trust you so that they will tell you their secrets and invest in you. And if they don’t think you care, they won’t either.
Emotional intelligence helps us by teaching us how to recognize and manage our own feelings and those of others. Because we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we can work on improving areas that need some work.
Charismatic individuals are loved because they know how to use their charisma to motivate and inspire other people. They achieve this through understanding themselves and giving credit to others for their success.
They believe in and promote teamwork and collaboration which makes them successful since teams have different personalities and skills.
By being charismatic, you will draw out the best in these people and they will reward you with their loyalty. Your colleagues and superiors will admire you for your talent and leadership qualities.
Make good relationships
When we are surrounded by people with low EQ, it can sometimes be hard to find places to spend time. These individuals often lack gratitude or recognize that what you have done for them is important to them.
People with high emotional intelligence understand how to motivate others and know how to appreciate things that other people do for them. They may also notice when someone else does not seem as happy as they should be and try to figure out why.
It can help us in our career if we learn about teamwork and collaboration. This includes being able to accept feedback from colleagues even if you don’t like it.
Emotional intelligence helps us develop strong friendships and connections with people who are different than ourselves. It gives us the tools to respect differences in culture and tradition.
In addition, it allows us to identify emotions in others so that we can better understand them. All of these play an integral part in creating healthy interpersonal relationships.
Do not get emotionally attached
It is very important to remain detached from others when they are experiencing emotional turmoil or distress.
This is particularly difficult if you have strong feelings for someone, but it is necessary if you want to develop your emotional intelligence.
If you feel anxious about something that has happened, try to think of reasons why the event will not affect people around you. For example, “It's never enough time for things to settle down” or "People change jobs every few months so what she/he did weeks ago doesn't matter anymore."
Similarly, if you're in a bad mood, ask yourself whether these negative emotions will continue to hurt you or anyone else. If they don't, then drop the thoughts and move on.
Be more optimistic
Overcoming pessimistic thoughts is a way to develop your emotional intelligence. You can be too negative about situations, people, and things for very long before you need to do something about it.
When you're in a bad mood, there's usually a reason for it. It could be due to something that happened, someone did something, or because of a situation that cannot be changed.
But even if none of these things caused your low mood, it may still be worth changing how you respond to them. This could be avoiding arguments with friends and family who often make you feel down, realizing mistakes were made by others which hurt you, or giving less attention to hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy.
By removing the reasons why you are sometimes angry or depressed, you can spend your time focusing on happier times, which eventually will bring you back into an overall positive state of mind.
Learn to laugh
Many people tend to think that being emotionally intelligent means being very serious all the time.
That’s not quite right!
Emotionally intelligent individuals are just as likely to make funny faces or say funny things as anyone else. They are just more aware of their emotions and how they affect others.
By learning how to recognize your own feelings and those of other people, you will be able to identify what makes you feel good about yourself and yourself around others.
You will also learn when something makes you uncomfortable and why. This helps you understand other people and yourself better which is an important part of emotional intelligence.
Be more creative
In fact, there’s now solid scientific proof that emotional intelligence is an important factor in success. A large number of studies have shown that people who are higher in EQ are better able to deal with other people, tend to do better at work and social settings, and achieve things they want out of life.
Specifically, research has linked high levels of EI to greater happiness, self-confidence, motivation, productivity, effectiveness under stress and career development. While it’s obvious that being friendly goes a long way towards helping others feel comfortable around you, having good control over your emotions also makes a big difference when their behavior matters to you.
If you’re ever faced with a situation where someone else is very upset or angry with you, try to understand why they’re feeling like this and think about what you can do to reduce the tension. Then take action on their behalf by doing something to make them feel better. You could talk to them, offer practical suggestions or just be there for them — even if they don’t ask you to.
On the other hand, if someone is laughing too hard, give them a moment to recover before joining in the laughter. And when they thank you for something, say “no, I should really thank you” so that they know they were successful without recognition from anyone else.