Your Most Important Skill – Emotional Intelligence

Your Most Important Skill – Emotional Intelligence

According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. The concept of emotional intelligence surfaced in the early 90s and sparked interest among behavior psychologists. One psychologist in particular, Daniel Goleman, went on to research the link between emotional intelligence and success theorizing that it was not cognitive intelligence that guaranteed business success, but rather, emotional intelligence.

Goleman characterized people with high emotional intelligence as having high self-awareness and social awareness and possessing above average self-management skills and social skills. In the workplace, these traits help employees to be more collaborative, more understanding and more outcome-focused. In fact, a study by TalentSmart found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance compared to 33 other workplace skills.

So, how can you recognize someone with high emotional intelligence? Or better, how can you improve your own emotional intelligence? Here are five qualities of people who have high EI:

  1. They welcome criticism

Receiving constructive criticism is essential to personal and professional development. Still, hearing negative comments about your performance can be hard to digest. People with high emotional intelligence take criticism and turn it into action, constantly trying to learn and improve instead of seeing it as a personal attack. How do you react in this situation?

  1. They’re empathetic

The ability to demonstrate empathy towards others allows you to connect with them on a deeper level, which is important in the workplace. Being able to understand someone else’s point of view and respond in a non-judgmental manner can help alleviate tension and conflict in a group-work setting.

  1. They separate their emotions from actions

While you may feel that you have little control over your emotions, what you do have control over is how you manifest those emotions externally. People with high emotional intelligence don’t let their emotions get the best of them. They are able to separate what they’re feeling from how they react, thus remaining calm and levelheaded during tense situations.

  1. They’re well liked

Another indicator of having high emotional intelligence is being well liked. They know how to connect with others on an individual basis and do so in a genuine way. They are great listeners, inspirational change agents and excellent team players. In the workplace, they lead by example, not by instilling fear.

  1. They’re self-aware

Recognizing your own weaknesses and failures isn’t easy. People with high emotional intelligence are able to be honest with themselves about their limitations but also about areas they’re excelling. They’re also open about these things with others. This self-realization helps propel them forward both personally and professionally.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to the findings of behavioral psychologists like Daniel Goleman, we now know that career success is based on much more than IQ. Individuals who exhibit behaviors linked to high emotional intelligence – welcoming criticism, showing empathy, separating emotions and actions, being personable and self-aware – are more successful than those who lack EI. Evaluating these characteristics in new hires is a great indicator of how successful someone will be on your team. It’s equally important to evaluate your own level of emotional intelligence and see if there are areas you can improve.