What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does it Matter?

What is Emotional Intelligence and Why Does it Matter?

When it comes to success and happiness in life, emotional intelligence is just as important as our intellectual ability. Some would say even more so, as skills such as empathy, self awareness and active listening drive not only our interactions with others but also our ability to manage emotions in a positive manner.

We’re all familiar with the concept of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which measures a person’s cognitive intelligence by calculating a numerical score in a series of standardised tests. Emotional intelligence – or EQ as it is also referred to – is harder to assess as there is no universally accepted benchmark for evaluating it.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The dictionary defines emotional intelligence as: ”The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

According to Dr Travis Bradberry, the award-winning author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, people with high EQs balance good manners, empathy, and kindness with the ability to assert themselves and establish boundaries. He goes on to argue that EQ is twice as important as IQ in helping you achieve your goals and, by capitalising on our emotional skills, we can transform our personal and professional lives .

How does EQ relate to etiquette and good manners?

Those who possess high emotional intelligence are more adept at judging social and business situations and adjusting their behaviour accordingly. In etiquette terms, this means having the self-awareness to relate to others in an empathic way and treat them with respect and kindness.

By contrast, people who are not emotionally intelligent frequently let their emotions drive their actions. For example, after a stressful day at work, they may express their anger by shouting at their children when they arrive home. An emotionally intelligent person would be able to recognise that the children’s noisy play is not the root cause of their feelings and refrain from letting the workplace stress spill over into the home environment.

Emotional Intelligence in the workplace

Understanding what emotional intelligence is and why it is important in the workplace is crucial in today’s highly competitive world. Cultivating EQ in your day-to-day interactions with work colleagues, partners, clients or employees encourages better teamwork and communication, increases motivation and paves the way for a more productive work culture.

In his research, Bradberry found high emotional intelligence among 90% of top performers but only 20% of bottom performers. These top performers were more adept at managing their own impulses, showed empathy towards co-workers and displayed clarity of thinking even in tense and chaotic situations.

However, as many as one in four UK business leaders claim that emotional intelligence is still undervalued when it comes to hiring new employees. A study by recruitment firm Robert Half U.K. revealed that many organisations do not currently assess EQ during the recruitment process despite its recognised value in corporate environments.

How can you improve your EQ?

While some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, the good new is that, unlike your IQ, your EQ is highly malleable. By adopting emotionally intelligent behaviours you can train your brain to build pathways that turn them into habits. Before long, you will begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it.

Emotional intelligence is a key module in our etiquette classes for both adults and children. Our trainers give students the tools to develop skills such as self-awareness, empathy, effective communication and self-regulation. These skills have far-reaching benefits both for the students themselves and their families, friends and other people they come into contact with in their daily lives.

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