In May of 2021, news outlets across the country reported the story of a young 2-year-old who became the youngest person on record to be admitted to Mensa, an exclusive society reserved for those that score in the top 2% on a standardized IQ test. Developed in 1905 by Alfred Binet, IQ or Intelligence Quotient tests have long been the standard for determining an individual’s intelligence and predicting future success. However, some doubt has been cast on the test’s ability to measure every facet of human intelligence in recent years accurately.
Those with high IQs are often perceived by their peers as geniuses. They know everything about their field of expertise, quickly learn new skills, and perform well on standardized tests. Their resumé may appear perfect. However, when faced with the rigors of working in an office, this same person could struggle to communicate their ideas effectively or become easily frustrated when others don’t see their point of view. How can these two scenarios exist simultaneously? Because there is another type of intelligence that we have not yet considered – EQ.
What is EQ?
EQ, also known as the Emotional Quotient, encompasses a unique type of intelligence that can either boost or hinder an employee’s ability to succeed in the workplace. People with a high EQ can accurately identify and control their own emotions and understand their feelings’ influence on those around them. Likewise, they can look outside themselves and recognize the emotions and opinions of others. They exhibit characteristics such as:
- Innate Motivation
- Ability to Self-Manage
- Keen Self-Awareness
- Excellent People Skills
Many employers believe that emotional intelligence is as vital a skillset for employees to possess for one very simple reason – no employee works alone. While some may perform their individual tasks in cubicles or home offices with few interpersonal interactions, at the end of the day, every project and every product gets delivered to or reviewed by another person. Most of the projects exist to serve other people, whether they be internal web pages or consumer products. High emotional intelligence enables employees to collaborate efficiently to accomplish tasks.
Why Do High EQ Individuals Make Great Employees?
Experts in identifying top-performing candidates, staffing agencies are familiar with the unique ability of emotionally intelligent individuals to influence company success. Their attitudes, opinions, and actions impact processes and people within their purview.
- Emotional Control – Emotionally intelligent employees understand that the feelings they exhibit during interactions with coworkers and customers affect the situational outcome. They do not hide their emotions but rather inwardly acknowledge them and control their reaction. The stress and pressure surrounding a situation have little to do with their response. As such, they are a pillar of support and a source of motivation to others.
- Collaboration – Gifted at reading both verbal and nonverbal cues, emotionally intelligent people are in tune with the opinions and emotions of clients, enabling them to build bridges and relationships more easily. This gift makes them natural leaders because they make others feel understood and heard.
- Recovery – Many people struggle in the face of criticism and failure. However, those who can self-regulate their emotions and responses in these situations are better equipped to pick themselves back up and learn from their mistakes. They view these setbacks as opportunities for growth.
- Empathetic – Demonstrating genuine empathy for others requires understanding their situation due to careful listening, not speaking. Individuals with high EQ learn to reserve judgment and seek to understand before seeking to be understood. They are better able to respond once all the cards are on the table.
- Resolution – Business interactions require addressing sensitive issues and making difficult decisions. Employees rocked emotionally by every change of the tide can struggle to deal logically with challenges as their emotions may hinder their critical thinking skills. Those who can self-regulate themselves and evaluate situations objectively are better suited to defusing and solving complex problems.
Can Emotional Intelligence be Learned?
Just as some are born with an innate ability to solve puzzles and answer challenging questions on an IQ test, others are born with a gift for controlling their emotions and recognizing them in others. If that’s not the case for you, there are still several ways to improve your EQ to become a better employer or employee.
- Don’t Be Impulsive – Your first reaction to a comment or situation may not be the best. Take some time to think about what you really want to convey before you speak.
- Know What You Can Control – You cannot always control what happens or the emotions you feel as a result. You can only control what you do in response to it. Seek to understand a situation completely before you pass judgment.
- Be Willing to be Wrong – We all have room to grow. Criticism from others allows you to see yourself the way others see you. You can learn from their comments and change yourself for the better.
- Focus on Others – Emotionally charged conversations can cause people to focus internally. You may learn more by focusing outward to understand how and why the situation played out the way it did.
- Express Your Feelings – Many people find it difficult to offer praise or admit fault for mistakes made. However, expressing honest emotions to others builds trust and respect.
Evaluating a job candidate’s skills and competencies for any position is critical to find a good fit. However, wise employers will also assess applicants’ emotional intelligence and skills, knowing that these skills can have just as significant an influence on their ability to excel in their position.