While personality type and emotional intelligence are two very different things, you may suspect that they are related in some way. After all, aren't we all influenced by our personalities in how we express emotions, interact with others, and respond to feelings?
It turns out the answer may not be as cut-and-dried as you expect. Let's take a closer look at how personality type and emotional intelligence may be connected.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to Psychology Today, Emotional Intelligence is defined as “an ability to monitor and regulate one’s own and others’ emotions and to use emotions to facilitate one’s thoughts and actions.” It includes traits such as empathy, emotional regulation and resilience. The four main areas that fall within emotional intelligence are:
- Relationship management
Emotional intelligence (EQ) includes interpersonal (between people) skills, such as empathy, listening and good communication. And it also includes intrapersonal (within yourself) skills, such as self-understanding and management of your own emotions, responses and choices.
We can use our emotional intelligence to communicate better with others and improve our relationships with them, manage our own emotions and habits, make wiser decisions, be happier, and even function better at work.
Can your personality type predict your emotional intelligence?
The short answer is, not really. There are two main reasons for this:
1. Personality type and emotional intelligence are essentially different things.
No one personality type automatically possesses more EQ than other personality types. Whatever your type, and no matter which system you’re using, you can have, develop and practice emotional intelligence. Some personality types (and specific traits within those types) may make you more naturally disposed to a high level of emotional intelligence. But, no one type guarantees that you will have high or low EQ.
2. Personality type is more-or-less fixed, whereas emotional intelligence can be developed over time and cultivated with conscious effort.
Even if you have low emotional intelligence, you can consciously work to increase it. This is true, whatever your personality type. And if you have traits that would seem to make you more disposed to high EQ, you may find that, in practice, you’re not living up to your emotional intelligence potential and could also benefit from working on it.
What can a personality test tell you about emotional intelligence?
Some types may have traits that could predispose them to high (or low) EQ. In that sense, a personality test could be one way to give you an idea of your starting point in relation to emotional intelligence. It could also give you clues to help you develop EQ based on your naturally strong personality traits.
For example, some Extraverts may be skilled communicators, some Introverts may benefit from a high level of self-understanding, and some Intuitive Feelers (NF) types may be especially well-developed in empathy and listening skills.
Those who score high in thinking (data-oriented) abilities may not have as high a level of natural emotional intelligence, but they tend to be high in traits such as goal orientation and self-control. Those traits may give them an edge in their efforts to develop and improve their emotional intelligence.
If they make a conscious effort to do so, they can use their ability to gain and act on information – and their dogged determination – to help them do whatever they set out to do, including increasing their emotional intelligence.
An example of how personality traits could play out in relation to emotional intelligence
Let’s look at an example of a famous fictional couple and how their personality traits first worked against them, then helped them, in their eventual efforts to understand themselves and each other better.
Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice made a disastrous start early in their acquaintance, largely because of their misuse of their basic personality traits. In this case the trait that mostly got in their way was the one they both shared – judging (J) as it’s defined in the Myers and Briggs personality system. It doesn’t necessarily mean being judgmental (though in this case it started out that way), but indicates a tendency to make and stick to quick judgements and decisions, sometimes before all the relevant information is known.
However, they both eventually used a number of abilities to gradually disregard first impressions and turn the relationship around. These include introspection, willingness to change when presented with new information, innate fairness, and Elizabeth’s warmth and ability to communicate.
If a famously happy romance indicated high emotional intelligence, then this couple, using their combined traits and abilities, achieved great success in increasing their individual and combined EI with determined effort over time. If they’d each had the assistance of a modern personality test they might have reached their happy ending sooner.
What are other ways a personality test can help you predict (or develop) emotional intelligence?
A key benefit of any personality test is that it helps you gain self-understanding. Once you know your strong and weak points and how they relate to emotional intelligence, you have a starting point to move forward from.
In the words of Truity’s lead trainer Samantha McKay, “when we are aware of our emotional experiences as they happen, we can see those feelings as information. Now we can pause and explore them further, rather than reacting to the emotion in a way we might regret later.”
When we’re good at recognizing and understanding our emotions and how to express them in constructive ways, we function better at work, for example, and have more positive interactions with others. In a sense, a whole organization can gain a kind of emotional intelligence that helps interactions within it to be productive instead of destructive.
A personality test can tell us what we do well, how we generally respond to situations and emotions, and what we may need to work on. We can also learn the same things about our co-workers, which gives us useful information on how to maximize everyone’s strengths, manage their weaknesses, and communicate in a way that works for the project and for the organization.
Just be careful to use the information you gain about others to help them and the team, rather than using it against them. Part of emotional intelligence is meeting people where they are and figuring out how to work with them for the best result.
A Myers and Briggs or Enneagram personality test doesn't rate or even definitively predict your emotional intelligence. That’s because they are separate things, and no particular personality type is necessarily associated with high or low emotional intelligence. Also, personality type doesn’t usually change dramatically, but anyone, whatever their personality type, can consciously choose to work on and increase their EQ.
Taking an Emotional Intelligence test is a better approach. Rather than measure your broad personality, these tests will measure your EQ in core areas. Truity's new EQ quiz measures your EQ in five key areas so you can understand how well you manage your own emotions, communicate your experiences, and relate to others. Take the free test here — the results will give you information about yourself that you can use in your efforts to increase your emotional intelligence.