Emotional Intelligence: the Key to Your Success

Career advancement and personal gain both require a lot of the same skills to achieve. While we go through school and other training to move forward in our careers and while there is a certain amount of intuition, IQ, and natural skill adaptability that can keep us moving forward, it may surprise you to know that the greater influence on how well we do personally and professionally is actually dependent upon our emotional intelligence.

“Emotional intelligence” a phrase first introduced in a research paper by psychology professors, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, in 1990, is defined as “the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.”

In 1995, Daniel Goleman brought the phrase more into focus with his book, “Emotional Intelligence and Why it Can Matter More than IQ.” Goleman states, “The most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence… Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.”

Emotional intelligence is wrapped up in five different characteristics or skills: self-awareness, self-regulations, empathy, social skills, and motivation.

Being self-aware means the ability to understand one’s own emotions, strengths, and weaknesses; to take responsibility for one’s own mistakes, and to ask for help when necessary. Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s own emotions and responses rather than the other way around. People who self-regulate know how to take a step back and cool off before responding. Empathy is the ability to detect and predict others’ emotions in a situation and to consider how one’s actions could affect other people. Social skills are the ability to get along with others in a friendly manner. These people are well-liked and can maintain strong relationships with clients. Lastly, motivation is the ability to keep moving forward despite the obstacles. Self-motivated people will be able to take feedback and use it to improve on their shortcomings.

People with high emotional intelligence are generally the most successful. In fact, a single point increase in emotional intelligence means a $1,300 increase in annual income. High emotional intelligence also is a great indicator of someone who will be a good leader. These leaders are 7x more effective and 7x more likely to have higher profit outcomes, and 90% of the highest performing employees also have high emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence leads to stronger interpersonal relationships, improved leadership abilities, and greater job satisfaction. Some of this is due to the fact that people with high emotional intelligence are more likely to embrace cross-cultural experiences, feel positively about their employers, remain with a company longer, and earn promotions and salary increases.

Although some people are more naturally inclined to exhibit characteristics of emotional intelligence, it is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Being able to understand and monitor one’s own emotions and responses is key to developing greater emotional intelligence.

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