Put simply, emotional intelligence – or your emotional quotient (EQ) – is the ability to identify, understand and manage moods and feelings in both ourselves and other people. It’s all about understanding your feelings, rather than being categorised and fitting you into a neat and tidy box.
This is tremendously powerful in the workplace as it allows you to remain in the driver’s seat and stay in control of your emotions, thus helping you make informed, conscious decisions that will benefit you and your team as opposed to acting impulsively. For example, if a colleague says something that you find especially irritating and unhelpful, it’s your emotional intelligence that will allow you to stay in control of your anger and not initiate a confrontation. You understand what your anger is, why it’s there and what you need to do to turn it into positive, helpful behaviour.
This is very different to your intelligence quotient (IQ), although IQ and EQ do in
fact work closely together. You’re unlikely to have a high EQ but a low IQ! Your IQ is generally what will determine whether you get that ideal job or that next key promotion, but it is your EQ which will determine how successful you are at it and how effectively you will be able to work with the people around you.
Consider people who have really changed the world for the better – Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela to name some obvious examples. These inspiring people combine a high IQ with a high EQ to incredible effect.
On the other hand, the business world is full of stories about self-made millionaires who dropped out of school and showed few, if any, academic inclinations, yet have been massively successful due to their people skills – their high EQ. The opposite is true of certain very technical, fact-orientated professions, such as scientists and computer programmers, where a high IQ will generally be more important than a high EQ.