When we think of the capacity we have to accomplish certain things, we often measure our, and others, abilities by taking into account their intelligence. We refer to people’s IQ to describe how smart they are, and as a result how capable they will be to get the job done. It turns out that there is another factor that is much more important in determining how well we work and what we achieve.
The Other Kind of Smart
Some call it the other kind of smart, like the middle child squished in between the intelligent older sibling and the personable younger one. But alas! The middle child rises and it turns out the rest can’t quite function without him. The middle child in this case is called emotional intelligence, or EQ (emotional quotient), and it’s our ability to manage behavior by identifying our own emotions and those of others. It’s also the way in which we master or regulate our emotions, and apply them to different circumstances and tasks.
The emotional quotient doesn’t only measure the ability to asses, motivate, or interact with other people, but it’s also the capacity to examine, crudely, one’s own potential for doing these things. As Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ, says this is a (not so new now) “way of thinking about the ingredients of life success.” Today, businesses around the world look “through the lens of EI” when considering new candidates and training their employees.
According to the Good Men Project, “decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.” This is because EQ affects how we relate to others, and how we navigate the complex web of social encounters that surrounds us on a daily basis. When we can identify certain emotions, know where they are coming from, and how we can better manage them, it becomes easier to deal with external circumstances. For instance, someone with a higher EQ would recognize a feeling and be adamant about pointing fingers and putting the blame on something or someone that is not at fault. In any professional environment, this is a trait that is essential to quickly and efficiently solving problems.
EQ and the Managing of Negative Emotions
Your EQ is also linked to how well we tend to manage stressful situations and negative emotions. As an entrepreneur, there will be plenty of times when it seems like things could be going a bit better than they are, and having the capacity to manage negative phases, positively, will determine the outcome of your project. Reducing these negative emotions involves having a clear and multi-dynamic sense of the situation that is causing us to feel a certain way.
Being able to asses emotions logically, I know, it’s quite the contradiction. But it is possible and even necessary in high-stress level and constantly changing entrepreneurial environments. “Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, this is not easy,” says Travis Bradberry in his highly acclaimed book Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
“Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible,” says Travis Bradberry, a contributor at Forbes magazine. We can’t quite measure it like we would our IQ’s, and it turns out that EQ “is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, you can develop high emotional intelligence even if you aren’t born with it.” So there isn’t any need to worry about not being at our fullest potential when it comes to emotional intelligence. It’s a trait that can be developed and constantly worked on.
Emotional intelligence is, in simpler terms, how capable we are of being mindful so that our emotions push us forward, instead of holding us back. “The tricky thing about your brain is that, once a negative mood takes over, you lose sight of what’s good in your life, and suddenly you hate your job, you’re frustrated with family and friends, you’re dissatisfied with your accomplishments, and your optimism about the future goes out the window. Deep down, you know that things aren’t as bad as they seem, but your brain just won’t hear it,” says Travis Bradberry. For someone in the entrepreneurial side of business these are decisive moments. So how exactly do we make the right choice?
Psychology Today lists a couple of things that can be helpful in understanding EI to better manage it. They recommend reducing negative personalization and the fear of rejection, managing stress, and practicing being assertive when expressing difficult emotions.
A higher EQ level means that you are more flexible with changes and can cooperate with others with ease. “No matter how many degrees or other on-paper qualifications a person has, if he or she doesn’t have certain emotional qualities, he or she is unlikely to succeed. As the workplace continues to evolve, making room for new technologies and innovations, these qualities may become increasingly important,” says Mariah Deleon in an article for Entrepreneur.
This leads us to the other reason why emotional intelligence is even more important today than it has ever been in the past. It’s nothing new that advances in technology lead to changes in the work force, and we are preparing ourselves for the greatest change to yet to happen.
Technology such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) will revolutionize the way we work, because it will change the way we look at different skills. “A smart machine may be able to diagnose complex business problems and recommend actions to improve an organization,” say Megan Beck and Harry Libert in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “a human being, however, is still best suited to jobs such as spurring the leadership team to action, avoiding political hot buttons, and identifying savvy individuals to lead change.”
As we enter the age of distraction, the sense of awareness (of the self and of our environments) that is such a crucial component of a high EQ, will be a trait incessantly sought after, and will determine who succeeds in adapting to the changes that are to come and the challenges that we will have to face across the planet.