How Emotionally Intelligent are you? Your future boss wants to know

Recently I was interviewed by Future Amp, on the role of Emotional Intelligence in our careers. This is their article:

“Anyone can be 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 – that is not easy.”


According to experts, the above quote sums up the power of Emotional Intelligence (EI), a universal, age-old human skill that often goes unnoticed.

But increasingly, EI is surfacing as a skill we all need to purposefully cultivate to enable future success in both our personal lives and professional careers. In fact, in order to successfully gain employment and work effectively in diverse teams both in person and remotely, we all need to know how to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them. To do this, we need EI skills to better understand, empathise and negotiate with people around us.

But how do you develop emotional intelligence? And what is it?

Rachel Moore, an EI Practitioner, Trainer and Author, says research shows that our emotional intelligence begins to develop in childhood and continues into our adult years, and that everyone has the ability to improve their emotional intelligence.

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, express, reason with and manage emotions within oneself and others. When applied in our careers, emotional intelligence is about how intelligently you use emotions to get positive results – for both yourself and others,” she says.

Justine Lomas, Programs Coordinator and PhD Candidate in the Emotional Intelligence Research Unit at Swinburne University, agrees, but says EI is more than just a set of skills to do with emotions.

“These skills relate to identifying, using and managing emotions. It sounds simple when you think of it like that, but emotions are part of everything we do in life,” she says.

“Emotional intelligence skills include identifying emotions and expressing them accurately, understanding emotions of others, using emotions to solve problems and make decisions, adapting emotions from moment to moment – and controlling our strong emotions.

“Our research in schools shows that emotional intelligence is an important determinant of a range of life outcomes including scholastic success, healthy relationships, leadership, mental health, resilience, well-being and life satisfaction.”

EI is the new IQ

While IQ, short for intelligence quotient, has historically been an identifiable and widely used measure of a person’s professional qualifications and employability profile, increasingly EI is overtaking IQ as the key skill required in the rapidly evolving modern workforce.

“Without a doubt, EI has overtaken IQ as a measure of success. This has been recognised for some time now, and first became a focus area in employment with the release of Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, which was first published in 1995,” Rachel says.

The World Economic Forum currently has Emotional Intelligence listed in the Top 10 critical career skills for our time, and a 2012 Career Builder Survey covering 2600 Human Resource and Hiring Managers found that:

 71% value an employee’s EI over IQ

75% are more likely to promote an employee with high EI

59% would pass up a candidate with high IQ but low EI

 “Workplaces have become aware of the importance of EI in the last 20 years and I think that the focus on EI in this context is increasing,” Justine says.

 “IQ is an important predictor of a person’s capacity to master the basic skills of a particular job, but that simply isn’t enough these days.

Employers want people on their team who can work well with others, foster a positive and collaborative work environment, be adaptive, think creatively, communicate well, manage stress, stay positive under pressure and be a leader.

All of these things depend on your EI and it is what will make a candidate stand out above others who have the same educational qualifications.”

How do you upskill in EI?

The good news is that EI can be learned. The first step in that learning is making the decision to continue developing and improving your EI as a lifelong learning commitment.

“EI is most definitely a learnable skill. I strongly believe that everyone can, and everyone should spend time developing their emotional intelligence. That being said, it is a lifelong practice. One does not simply achieve a plateau of emotional intelligence and remain there,” Rachel says.

Justine suggests the best way to improve your EI is to start by observing others, asking for feedback about your own behaviours, and exercising greater self-awareness by reflecting on your emotional experiences and how they shape your thoughts and actions.

Future Amp’s Top 5 Tips for Upskilling in EI

LANGUAGE: Start by extending your emotional vocabulary. Emotions give us important information about our experience of the world around us, and when we only have a few emotions in our repertoire, it’s like seeing the world in black and white instead of colour. Grab a piece of paper and a marker and brainstorm a list of all the feelings and emotions you can think of.

LIST: Group list into 10 Basic Emotions – Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Anticipation, Fear, Loneliness, Jealousy, Disgust, Surprise, Trust.

STUDY: Choose a new emotion each week to look out for in yourself and others. When you recognise it, think about the meaning and consequences it has for you, and those around you, as it shows up in your personal or professional situations.

MESSAGES: Learn more about the messages emotions give you. All emotions have a purpose – even the ones that don’t feel so nice, like jealousy, anger or fear! So pay special attention to the purpose or message each emotion might send, and try to recognise patterns or how the emotion plays out in you. Is it constructive? Destructive? Short-lived? Long-lasting?

OBSERVE: Observe others who you think effectively regulate and manage emotions. How do they appear to deal with their moods and emotions? Ask yourself if any of their coping or emotional regulation strategies would be useful to you.


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