Have you ever had a chance to take an emotional intelligence (EI) test? How do you think you would fare? Higher or lower than average? We normally have a better sense of our IQ level than our EI. Mostly due to the basis of our societies’ school systems, which focus much more on developing and rewarding students’ achievements based on their IQ capabilities than anything else. Yet, at work EI is more important than IQ. Which means people with high EI have greater potential to achieve success.
By the way, if you’re curious to test yourself on emotional intelligence, the Global Leadership Foundation offers a test you can do online. It takes less than 10 minutes. Find THE TEST HERE.
Maetrix defines emotional intelligence as, “… the ability to recognise, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and others.”
We don’t always realize how much of an impact the way we interact with others can have on our performance in our day-to-day activities at work. Unless your work requires absolutely no interaction with other people — including no written communications. There are numerous examples why we should all strive to further develop these soft skills.
How can you develop your EI?
The good news is we can always improve our EI. The challenge starts with being able to take an honest look at ourselves, to understand where our weak points are. And to produce change you must be determined, patient and dedicated, since these type of skills cannot be developed overnight.
It’s a good idea to start with a test on EI, to understand your strong points and distinguish areas which need improvement. Another way to find out where you stand to begin with is by asking a couple of people/colleagues you trust, to tell you how they would describe your EI abilities. It takes guts to do this since you will not like everything you hear. But hey, nobody’s perfect!
A few years ago I went through that exercise, and it made me realize it’s one of the best ways to get the real picture. While I was working with a coach, she suggested I go through a test called 360, to learn how my colleagues perceived me. When I got the results, I remember how surprised I was to learn about some of the weak points they had described. It just shows how difficult it can be to know oneself well.
Many books can then be of help to guide you through ways and techniques on how to implement change.
Of course, specific trainings on the subject and working with a professional coach are other ways you can use to further develop your EI.
8 reasons why at work EI is more important than IQ
So many situations at work require social interactions. Having well developed self-awareness and social skills will have a direct impact on your ability to deliver and your professional reputation. As you improve your EI capabilities you’ll notice it becomes easier to convey your messages. That people will start to appreciate you more.
Here are some of the many situations found in the workplace, where emotional intelligence becomes all the more useful.
Negotiations. The particular context of a contract negotiation often puts both parties on their guard. Not wanting to reveal all the information they possess to prevent finding themselves in a vulnerable position. You’re bound to navigate more easily in this context if you’re good at reading body language and have the ability to quickly develop strong relationships of trust with clients and partners. In order for them to share valuable information, they need to trust you first.
Communications. Do you sometimes make presentations to your team, to higher management or to clients? When you do so you’re probably hoping that the people will come away with a few key points. This requires that you be able to capture, live, who your audience is, and where their interests are. To adapt your content accordingly. You must listen carefully to questions or objections in order to see if corrections to your message are needed.
Contacts and business relationships. In order to build a strong contact list, you need to develop valuable relationships. If you’re naturally empathetic, a good listener and able to show your true self, you’ll have more success building solid and honest relationships. The same applies to your relationships with colleagues, bosses and employees.
Know what’s going on. The stronger your EI, the better you will become at picking-up if your colleague, boss or employee is going through a rough period. Be attentive to their emotional cues. Is the person more impatient than usual? Are communications more complicated lately? It may be stress related to work, or a personal life problem. It’s really helpful to capture the signals. You’ll be much more understanding if you know what reasons are behind the person’s odd behaviour. It will make it easier for you to be generous and flexible.
To motivate and engage. Whether you’re a manager or not, you’re probably called upon to provide your opinion as an expert in your field. In this context you’ll want to convince people in the room that you have the answer and know what direction they should take. However, to succeed in engaging people with your ideas, you not only need not have the right technical knowledge, you need to be aware of your nonverbal communication. And to know this you must be aware of your own emotions, your body language, and what it translates. Last but not least, ask yourself “do I practice what I preach? Or are they just words?”
Emails and letters. You will craft more effective written communications, if you have the ability to properly assess the kind of message your choice of words will deliver. How many emails do you send in a week? Probably a whole lot. The quality of these communications will impact your business credibility and reputation as a professional.
Team work. Working with a team has its challenges. It can be very stimulating. But it normally requires that you be able to deal with group differences, and each person’s sensitivities. It’s an art to finding the right balance between making your committee productive, while allowing people to feel they have their say and can contribute.
Avoid serious problems. As a manager, you can encounter problems that can creep up within your team. I’m talking about burnouts, conflicts between employees, verbal harassement. However, if you’re a good listener and are well in touch with your employees, you should probably be able pick up the warning signals. You and your team will be much better off if you intervene early to avoid letting the situation deteriorate too seriously.
Are you convinced?
Hopefully these 8 reasons convinced you that at work EI is more important than IQ. One thing is for certain, EI is one of the most important attributes you’ll need to be successful in the workplace. And the good news is there’s no limit to developing and improving these soft skills.
And there’s a bonus! The more you become grounded with your own emotions, and better at evaluating how others feel, the more your work will become interesting.
Have you followed trainings or read books you loved about this subject? Don’t hesitate to share below for the benefit of other women!