IQ vs EQ: What’s more important?

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Why emotional intelligence can be more useful than IQ.

In school, we are often only judged for a certain type of intelligence – the kind that can be measured on a test. Not enough credit is given to the vast array of benefits that stem from being emotionally intelligent. The results are aplenty: improved communication, better relationships, increased intimacy, and overall happiness. Interestingly, in some situations, emotional intelligence may be more useful than IQ.

Psychologist Daniel Goleman has been researching and spreading awareness of the concept of emotional intelligence for quite some time and has outlined five key elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Self-awareness: If you are self-aware, you are cognisant of your internal feelings. A result of being able to name your feelings is the ability to think about how those feelings affect those around you. Self-awareness is also understanding your qualities and talents and having a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

Self-regulation: It is important to be able to cope with your emotions. Regulation stems from awareness; knowing how you feel and how to ensure that you are in control of your emotions. People who can self-regulate rarely verbally attack others or have outbursts of anger.

Motivation: The ability to be intrinsically motivated by your work is an element of emotional intelligence. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you are inspired to work and take action because you are genuinely interested in the task. There is more reliance on internal factors rather than external rewards like money, fame, attention, and recognition.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and understand how they are feeling. This is a critical relationship-building skill because it ensures readiness to respond to the emotional state of others. If you are skilled in empathy, you respond to others with care and concern.

Social Skills: Social skills is about applying your emotional intelligence to your interactions with others. People with excellent social skills intuitively know what to say in social situations and make other people feel at ease.

On the other hand, there are many indicators that someone could do some work on their emotional intelligence. Some of these could include difficulty maintaining friendships, inability to understand the feelings of others, and irrational emotional outbursts of anger and sadness. Sometimes we can have one or two or these indicators along with strong EQ qualities in other areas, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Identify what you see as needing a little work.

If you are looking to improve your emotional skills, here are some strategies you can implement to start building that muscle.

  1. Ask others for their opinion
    • Asking others for their opinion ties into the principle of collaboration. Asking others what they think can build a more conscious social awareness. Working as a group builds a shared sense of empathy and shows that you value the thoughts of others in your community/workplace.
  1. Build optimism
    • An optimistic attitude is one where you expect the best. These are some characteristics that optimists share: they feel a sense of gratitude for their life, they see challenges as opportunities for growth, they believe that their future is bright, and they expect good things to happen for them.
  1. Learn how to name your emotions
    • Ask yourself – when you are in a stressful situation, what emotions are you feeling? Learning how to communicate your emotions is a lifelong process. Getting more specific about how you are feeling in a given moment is a cornerstone of emotional health. For example, if you’re able to identify that you are mad, you can get more specific: is it Rage? Irritation? Disgust? Envy? The next step can be for you to journal and ask yourself the following questions: Am I trying to hide this emotion? What does this emotion need from me? How can I process this emotion?
  1. Demonstrate kindness
    • Demonstrating kindness shows that you care for others deeply. In the workplace, this can be as small as complementing a coworker and as large as taking time out of your day to offer your help to someone that is struggling. Those who are emotionally intelligent understand that there are benefits to serving those in their community. This is about more than the prospect of receiving help back in the future, it is about fulfilling a greater duty you have in the world.

As with any kind of education, it takes patience, repetition and commitment. The long-term benefit to a strong EQ is the ability to reduce stress, build relationships and defuse conflict and many successful people have a high EQ because it enables them to not raise their cortisol levels, remain calm in all situations and make intelligent assessments and decisions.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your mental or physical health, seek immediate medical attention.