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What is EQ and Why is it Important?

We all know about IQ, but how does Emotional Intelligence Help Your Success?

Of course, you’ve heard the term IQ - basically a measure of your overall intelligence. But lately, my industry (business coaches, leaders of employees and HR professionals) is placing a higher weight on EQ — emotional intelligence — which isn’t quite so apparent.

It’s no secret that I embrace the use of personality assessments; in fact, before I really get to work with any client to help them, I require them to complete an assessment. One of the things that an assessment can reveal is emotional intelligence. In a nutshell, it’s about having the ability to “read” people’s emotions while also managing your own.

The value is priceless, as everyone you come into contact with has emotions, and it’s rare that decisions they make don’t have some thread of emotion running through them. Your ability to address those emotions in working with people will therefore increase your success, whether you are in sales, on a team, or even in a family dynamic. (And aren’t we all?)

First, I will be honest...my understanding of EQ is under development, but I do find much in common with what I’ve been coaching people on. Here’s where I find the value:

  • Self Awareness - this is the ability to see yourself as others do, honestly and with humility. People can fall into two categories: those who think they’re great and don’t understand why people don’t share their opinion, and those who are so self-critical that any misstep they make is magnified and they beat themselves up over it. In reality, no one else around them thinks as much of their mistake as they do. Self awareness helps us to measure our words and actions to show consideration for the effects they can have on others.
  • Empathy - people who score highly on assessments that measure EQ are empathetic. They identify the feelings and emotions that their colleague, prospect or customer might be dealing with, and approach their communication with this in mind. It’s not a well-understood skill, but with the right coaching, can be something you can improve on.
  • Listening - I cannot stress enough the importance of being a good listener. You are being given the gift of someone’s thoughts whenever they speak, and when you truly pay attention (cell phone turned off and out of sight), you gather valuable information that can help you be more successful in your business. It’s also something that can’t be faked. Authentic interest is noticed by those you are listening to, and when you follow up with great questions, it’s a winning result every time.

These are all skills that can be measured through assessments, and developed through coaching. However, I want to offer a few warnings about EQ to keep you grounded.

While some people say they’re good at “reading” people, or even an entire room full of people, I know that the look on someone’s face isn’t everything I need to know. Politely put, some people are good at their “game face,” and if we rely solely on body language or facial expressions, we could be left wondering why a deal fell through.

For example, not everyone expresses joy in the same way; understanding how they express it, or any emotion, will likely be developed as you get to know that person. The same thing can be said for body language. We know that culture plays a big role in how people use their arms while they talk, how close they stand to you, and how often they look directly at you when you’re speaking.

The importance placed on EQ also assumes that emotions are triggered by events, and therefore can be controlled through rationality. Research in psychology has not shown that to be the case as the brain doesn’t distinguish between cognition (thinking) and emotion. In fact, the thought that there is an “emotion center” in the brain has no basis. The brain processes it all together.

So, do take EQ results with a grain of salt, but do work on the principles that I’ve outlined above. Some people indeed are better at being empathetic than others, and some people have great listening skills. The idea is to identify what areas are your strengths and challenges, and work to improve upon them. The idea is to always be aware of what WE say and do and its impact on the people on the receiving end.