©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
“Just who do they think they are?” Lisa’s voice was loud and shrill. Anyone peering into her office at that moment would have seen a tall, willowy, red-head standing at the window, her fists clenched against the glass.
“What’s up?” Wendi asked, skidding to a stop in the open doorway. “I heard you from the other end of the hall. Who is WHO?”
Lisa turned toward her colleague and spit out a response: “I was just given an involuntary transfer to a new project, under a new boss! Why me?” She paused and pounded the top of her desk. “They had the nerve to give me a pay raise and tell me there was a good possibility for a promotion at the end of six months. Six months!”
Wendi wanted to ask Why not you? but after another glance at Lisa’s body language decided against it. Instead Wendi asked, “A big pay raise?”
“That’s totally irrelevant,” Lisa snapped. “Big darling deal about a pay raise. What could I buy in the Northwest Territories?” She slammed her daybook closed and reached to turn off her laptop. “I think I’ll march right down there and resign. I’m sure I can find a new job in this area.”
“I can certainly understand the shock you just received,” said Wendi. She paused for a moment to let her words sink in. “Dare I suggest there might be a more emotionally intelligent response than jumping the gun and walking out?”
“Name one,” Wendi said, eyes glaring.
Lisa’s brain had already thought of several options, any of which would demonstrate higher EQ than jumping the gun and walking out. Wendi could enjoy the challenge and stash the pay raise. She could demonstrate her considerable ability while waiting for the promotion. She could use the opportunity to explore that part of the world . . . six months would go by quite quickly. But would Wendi be in any mood to think outside the box? “Let’s have lunch and brainstorm,” Lisa suggested. Wendi paused in midstride toward the door. After a moment she sighed audibly and nodded.
New Area of Study
Wendi was exceedingly fortunate to have Lisa as a colleague; a woman with high emotional intelligence. A relatively new area of study, the art and science of Emotional Intelligence (or EQ for short ) attempts to help people bring intelligence to emotion. EQ can be indispensable in handling relationships, enhancing creativity, and solving problems. It can positively impact every area of life.
Dr. Daniel Goleman, in his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, defines EQ as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”
In their book Handle with Care, Anabel L. Jensen PhD and co-authors describe Emotional Intelligence as “a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act.”
Put as plainly as possible, EQ involves an ability to use the information provided by reason plus emotion in a healthy and effective manner. It gives you the ability to know what feels good, what feels bad, and to get from bad to good in an effective, healthy, and appropriate manner.
Characteristics of High EQ
Estimates are that IQ (Intelligence Quotient) contributes about 20% to the factors that determine a person’s success in life, while EQ is responsible for 80% or more. EQ is synergistic with IQ¾that is, top performers in life use both in harmony.
In addition to positive-mindset and self-talk patterns, self-awareness, an ability to delay gratification, and motivational abilities, individuals with high levels of EQ tend to exhibit some specific behavioral characteristics. Generally they are able to:
- Identify, label accurately, assess intensity, and express emotions appropriately
- Recognize what the emotion is trying to communicate
- Delay gratification and exhibit good impulse control
- Articulate the difference between identifying an emotion and taking action
- Listen, read/interpret social cues and understand the perspective of others
- Exhibit effective verbal and nonverbal skills along with empathy and compassion
- Manage own moods effectively
- Handle relationships effectively, minimizing overreactions / jumping to conclusions
A little bit of self-analysis (avoiding denial and minimization) may allow you to identify rather quickly which of these characteristics are already operational in your life and which ones need to be developed or honed.
It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that people in the workplace who possess high EQ have a huge advantage, especially in times of job scarcity or recession. EQ largely determines your professional success in your job or career. Successful managers typically have high EQ. Less successful managers typically have low EQ (often with a relatively high IQ).
In his book Emotional Intelligence at Work, Dahlip Singh PhD says that EQ consists of three psychological dimensions that motivate individuals to maximize productivity, manage change, and resolve conflict. Those dimensions are:
- Emotional sensitivity (e.g., are able to respond to emotional stimuli of low intensity, are empathetic, exhibit excellent interpersonal-relational skills, and communicate positive emotions)
- Emotional maturity (e.g., tend to be self-aware, are able to delay gratification, help to develop others, and show adaptability and flexibility)
- Emotional competency (e.g., are able to tackle emotional upsets while avoiding emotional exhaustion, have optimum self-esteem, choose to make tactful responses to emotional stimuli, and handle egoism appropriately by taking the initiative to prevent or resolve conflict)
No surprise, outstanding managers typically use a combination of IQ and EQ.
High EQ can put you at a distinct advantage in your personal life, as well. You can understand another’s perspective, give due respect, and communicate in ways that the other person appreciates.
There can be a HUGE difference between persons with low levels of EQ versus those with high EQ. Dr. Singh has identified some of those differences in the table that follows:
Individuals with low EQ are more likely to exhibit:
Individuals with high EQ are more likely to exhibit:
Studies have shown that people with high EQ tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful with their personal relationships. High EQ can help you to reduce your stress levels and perhaps increase your longevity, as well. In addition, you can role model EQ skills to family and friends.
The Bottom Line
EQ is a learnable intelligence that can be developed and honed at any age. It involves an ability to use the information provided by emotions in an effective manner. Children learn their first skills by observing caregivers and role models. If yours were highly functional in terms of managing their emotions, you may have gotten a jump-start on the process. If your care-providers didn’t possess high levels of EQ, you may not have learned those skills. After all, human beings can only share what they know. If you find yourself in this category, remember that EQ involves learnable skills.
Think of it this way: Emotional Intelligence is a required course in the School of Life, but the homework is challenging and the exams are usually tough to pass, so some fail to finish....
NOTE: For additional information about emotions and feelings, you may enjoy Dr. Taylor’s article entitled “The Emotions Staircase.”