The power of emotional intelligence

This article is authored and submitted by Peter Munnik, Director at ICML, part of the Career Money Life Supplier Community.

If you’ve looked for a job in the last few years, you’re sure to have come across the term ‘emotional intelligence’ or ‘EQ’. This is more than just a trendy buzzword though — several researchers have found links between individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence and career success. 

Emotional intelligence is one of the most sought after characteristics in new employees, meaning it is crucial for any job seeker to have. But what exactly is EQ and how can you make sure that you have it?

What are the core skills of emotional intelligence?

According to Daniel Goleman, renowned behavioural scientist and one of the main theorists behind the concept of EQ, there are several areas of EQ one can develop. These include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills

If you’ve been described as a good listener, or that you’re good with people, you are likely to have a higher EQ level than the average person. 

Below are the five characteristics outlined in more detail. 

Self-awareness

People with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to better understand their emotions and, as a result, have a better handle on the way they react to others and the stressors of everyday life. They also hold a more objective view of themselves and are able to articulate their strengths, motivations and weaknesses. This last bit is the most important — people with higher EQs appraise the areas they may be lacking and actively work towards addressing them.

Self-regulation

This feeds directly from self-awareness: once a person understands their emotions, they can better control them. Those with higher EQs are able to resist their natural impulses and think before they do. 

This isn’t to say that people with higher levels of EQ don’t feel anger, jealousy, stress, or other negative emotions. Rather, they tend to not let these emotions dictate their actions and, as a result, are more careful in their decision making. As a result, these people are good under pressure and agile in the workplace — two aspects highly regarded by employers. 

Motivation

People with high levels of EQ are internally motivated, not motivated by outside factors. They are driven by passion and are always seeking to improve their skills, whether through mentorship, individual development or formal training. 

They are often long-term thinkers, rather than short-term, and have the energy to see projects through to their best ability. 

Empathy

People with higher levels of emotional intelligence don’t just understand their own emotions; they are also able to recognise and relate to the emotions of others. This is incredibly important for those in leadership roles or people who regularly work with people (either in a team capacity or working with customers/members of the public). 

These people are great at listening and managing relationships with others as they know how the other person is feeling and can adjust their behaviour accordingly. 

Social skills

Those with high EQs tend to be team players, focusing on the end goal rather than individual success. With this ability to communicate well and relate to others, they are able to influence others more easily — colleagues, superiors, customers, stakeholders. These people can also mediate disputes in the workplace, either between themselves or other colleagues, and facilitate better collaboration. 

Emotional intelligence in a post-COVID workplace

The workplace has been entirely upended in the last year, as you’re probably well aware. Employers want people who are calm under pressure, who can adapt to the fast-paced world we live in, and who are able to come together to deliver results. 

Emotional intelligence was ranked #6 by the World Economic Forum in terms of the top skills employees must possess to succeed in the workplace in 2021 and beyond. While hiring managers have said that they value EQ over IQ for around a decade now, it is clear that regulating emotions is a crucial area that employers will look for when assessing potential staff or candidates for promotion. 

It is no longer enough to say that we simply aren’t a ‘people person’ — we must be able to demonstrate at least some of the areas of EQ, no matter what role you’re going for. 

How can I improve my emotional intelligence?

Though some individuals are born with high levels of emotional intelligence, this is a set of skills that can be learned just like any other. 

There are a number of ways you can improve your emotional intelligence:

  • Evaluate yourself. You can start by taking this test to see where your emotional intelligence is currently at and take a look at your current behaviours. What is your first reaction when responding to others? Do you become upset easily, or stressed? 
  • Take your time with decision making. You don’t want to take forever, of course, but allowing yourself a minute to take stock of the emotions involved — yours and others — will help you approach the situation more objectively. 
  • Practice! Like with every skill, practice makes perfect. 
  • Undergo training. There are dedicated programs to help individuals and workers learn how to hone their emotional intelligence. Different training options may suit you depending on where you are at in your career and your existing EQ level. 

ICML offers short virtual training courses across Australia, helping individuals and organisations hone the skills they need to be effective in the workplace. The workshops are highly interactive, dedicated to group discussion and individual development through the use of practical activities. With small groups under twelve participants, you’ll be able to take full advantage and get the most out of the sessions. By the end, you’ll come away with an action plan to get where you want to be and resources to help you improve your skills. 

Emotional intelligence is a key skill covered in many courses. Some of the ones you may find the most useful include:

To see the full range of courses and dates or find out more, visit ICML’s website or download the Virtual Course Directory. You can also sign in to your Career Money Life account to sign up for ICML’s courses.

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