Are Some People More Emotionally Intelligent Than Others?

The concept of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) has been around for decades. However, the idea of EQ (Emotional Quotient) or EI (Emotional Intelligence) became popular in the 1990s as a way of assessing why some people were more successful in the workplace than others. Knowledge from books is important, of course, but researchers noticed that the top performers in their careers all had certain characteristic in common.

They were:

  • Self-aware
  • Self-controlled
  • Able to act appropriate to the emotion being felt
  • Relating to others effectively, such as showing sympathy and empathy
  • Relating to others in a range of social situations, such as one-on-one, meetings, team projects, negotiations
  • A “people person” rather than an ideas person

Research showed that some people had more EI than others. Those who were lacking in EI tended to be in the lowest percentile in terms of work performance, and researchers posited that the personal relationships of underachievers were as difficult as their professional ones.

Learning EI

The good news is that EI can be developed with some focus and discipline. Each of the components above can be learned and improved upon. Working on becoming your best self is always a good idea for the sake of your own personal fulfillment. Working on EI can have the added benefits of improving your career and going from low man on the ladder to the top rung.

How is this possible, you may ask? It’s because in the process of improving your EI, you will become the kind of person who can “win friends and influence people.” People do business with people they like. Becoming more self-aware and self-controlled can serve as the gateway to getting along with others better, and being perceived as someone to be admired and even guided by.

In the same way that some people seem to be born leaders while others study leadership and take action to gain leadership positions, you can learn more about your own emotions in order to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
Understanding what makes others tick, being a good listener and problem solver, a team player and a someone in control and not freaking out no matter what happens, are all signs not just of a reliable colleague, but a leader as well – a person others look to for guidance if and when things start to go wrong.

Studying your own emotions can help you learn how to manage them. Note the word “manage,” not “suppress.” No one is expecting you to be a block of wood, but in the workplace, those who can manage their emotions and not fly off the handle (for example) will stand out compared to those who are not able to rein themselves in.

Observing body language in yourself, and facial expression if you look in the mirror, will all give you guidance on the kind of image you are conveying to others. Are you coming off as warm and friendly, or cold, aloof, and arrogant? Are you really just shy? If you feel you are shy, what is making you hold back from others?

Reading the body language and facial expressions of colleagues, bosses, important business contacts, and so on, can help you get through even tricky situations and negotiations because you will be more alert, aware and tuned in to others. Most people don’t like used car salesmen because they’re so pushy. They only care about the sale, not the purchaser. Conveying care and other higher motivations such as improving their lives will create a win-win situation for everyone.

If you’re feeling stuck in your relationships, spend more time on your EI and see what a difference it can make in your life.

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