EQ is the Most Important Predictor of Success at Work – Here’s How You Can Increase your Emotional Intelligence24 May 2023 / By Diane Fanucchi Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 29, 2023
You likely have heard about emotional intelligence by now. But maybe you think it’s only important for your personal life and doesn’t matter much in business. Or perhaps you think it’s a nice extra to have, but isn’t that essential to your career success. If you believe either of these things, it’s time to think again.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, emotional intelligence “accounts for nearly 90 percent of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills and knowledge.” And 71 percent of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they valued EQ over IQ. That’s because employees with high emotional intelligence are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond to co-workers with empathy.
In other words, a high level of emotional intelligence helps you get the job, keep it, excel at it, advance to higher levels, and help your team thrive as well!
Clearly, it makes sense to put some thought into increasing emotional intelligence. To help you on your way, we have a new EQ test to help you measure your current level of emotional intelligence. The results show your scores across the five facets of EQ:
- Awareness of others
- Emotional control
Once you have a baseline for where you are now, you can start looking at ways to raise your emotional intelligence overall. Here are some tips to help you raise your EQ in each of the five areas.
Self awareness is the ability to recognize and identify your own emotions at any given moment. It goes beyond the ability to just ‘feel’ your emotions and measures how well you can name them, understand the reasons behind them, control how you express them, and act in a thoughtful, appropriate manner.
Why you should improve your self-awareness: People with high self-awareness can respond to situations in a much more reflective, proactive and appropriate manner, instead of giving an impulsive knee-jerk reaction. According to organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich, while 95 percent of people view themselves as self-aware, the actual number is more like 10 to 15 percent.
How to increase your self-awareness:
- Practice stepping back and analyzing your emotions – give them a name, try to think of why you feel that way.
- Keep a journal of what’s triggering your emotions. Are there patterns?
- Compare notes: ask others who know you well how they think you’re doing.
- Pause and breathe before you respond. Use this gap to get in touch with what you’re feeling before you say or do something you may regret.
2. Other awareness
Other awareness is how well you can understand the emotions of others. It includes being able to interpret nonverbal cues such as body language and facial expressions, as well as language, moods and so on.
Why you should improve your other awareness: People with good other awareness find it easier to relate to others with insight and empathy. Sometimes we can help a situation go better if we can sense what a person is feeling and respond in a way that won't inflame the situation or exacerbate their emotions.
How to increase your other awareness:
- Practice observation – look for small cues that people may be giving out.
- Really listen when others speak – look beyond the words to the meaning and feelings.
- Try matching someone’s body language to the emotion. If someone has widened their stance, for example, what does that tell you?
- Put what you perceive into words, and ask if you got it right.
3. Emotional control
Emotional control is the ability to regulate and manage your own emotions. For example, it describes how well you stop your emotions from impacting your life in destructive ways, and how easily you can harness positive emotions to support your well-being. People who score higher on this ability are more likely to have a strong sense of control over their emotional experiences and can direct their emotions in a way that serves their goals.
Why you should improve your emotional control: If you have high emotional control, you’ll be likely to recover from setbacks more quickly, be resilient in the face of strong or negative emotions, and know how to get back on track.
How to increase your emotional control:
- Take a breath. Give yourself a moment to calm down and think about how you want to respond.
- Make a conscious choice. You don’t always have control over the words or events that trigger an emotional response, but you do have control over how you think and feel about them, what you say and do, and how much power you let the feelings have over you.
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you understand and process them and put them in their place. This will likely help you become more aware of your feelings and those of others, and give you a chance to practice healthy responses you can use next time.
Empathy is your ability to understand and relate to the emotional experiences of others. Those who score very high in empathy tend to be affected by others' suffering and want to help them feel better.
Why you should improve your empathy: Empathy helps us take others’ feelings less personally while being more caring towards them. It also motivates us to help others and work toward the common good. For these reasons, empathy is good for others and for us as well. It's a critical skill in the workplace, helping to foster collaboration and mutual understanding.
How to increase your empathy:
- Practice “empathetic statements.” Psychology Today suggests that we can increase our understanding of others by starting sentences in our mind with: “It must not be easy….” For example, “My boss is really demanding. It must not be easy to have such high expectations placed on her performance by management…”
- Read fiction. Reading about a variety of characters and getting invested in their story helps us understand and relate to various kinds of people with different points of view. In a sense, we’re experiencing life as they would, which helps us relate to others in our real life.
Wellbeing is your overall state of psychological, emotional and social health. Score high in wellbeing, and you are likely to feel good about life and feel happy and fulfilled in your day-to-day activities.
Why you should improve your wellbeing: Who doesn’t want to be happy? People with a strong sense of wellbeing have satisfying relationships with others and are able to find joy in small things, while meeting challenges with resilience.
How to increase your well-being:
- Re-frame. Remember that another’s response is more about them than us, and frustrations don’t have to become daunting obstacles. When you reframe problems in a positive light, you are more likely to maintain your emotional equilibrium.
- Be grateful. As the ancient philosopher Epicurus wrote, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Gratitude positively affects our well-being, so look for ways to be thankful.
- Practice self-compassion. If you’re experiencing a difficult emotion, treat yourself with the kindness and understanding you’d likely offer to a friend. By accepting our feelings and finding ways to move forward instead of blaming ourselves, we make it easier to put things in perspective.