Emotional Intelligence: What it is and why is it so important?

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Two letters defined the 20th century approach to quantifying human cognitive abilities: IQ. This test was created with the sole purpose of trying to quantify our abilities to think and analyze and solve problems. From a mathematical stand point, it is a great test and does predict brain function abilities in problem solving. From a human interaction, leadership, family and parenting, relationship and social stand point, it is utterly useless. If our worlds were an interaction between paper, pen, computer and tablet, phone and us, then IQ is all you need. After all, when solving a problem through cognition, it is your mental abilities that are called upon. IQ refers to a person’s analytical, intellectual, rational and logical abilities. As such, IQ focuses and is concerned with mathematical and visual skills, spatial and verbal abilities. But as human beings, our world is more reliant on how we interact with each other…much much more. It has been shown that IQ does not predict success in life. According to studies, IQ is able to predict on average, 6 percent of success in a given job. SO if someone relies on another person’s IQ to hire them, they have a 6% chance of meeting expectations and being successful if based solely on their IQ scores. EQ scores correlate anywhere between 27-45 % of success, depending on the field of study.

            Let me give you an example. You have heard how some people are “great on paper”. They appear to be the “perfect candidate” for a job, for a position, as a physician or healthcare provider, as a leader but when you interact with them, hire them or work with them…well, they turn out to be a disaster. The reason for this is their EQ, not IQ. What is EQ? EQ is a test done to quantify if you will your emotional intelligence. The emotional quotient was developed for the sole purpose of trying to identify where individuals are in terms of their emotional intelligence strengths. And why is that important? Well, people with high EQ’s make the best leaders, parents, partners, workers, professionals and providers. Studies have been done on the effect of emotional intelligence and practically every aspect of human behavior, work, responsibilities and social interactions. So what is exactly emotional intelligence? Let me start by the following definition:

Emotional Intelligence: “The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” Daniel Goleman.

            Simply stated, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand yourself, manage yourself, understand others and manage others. According to Reuven Bar-On, it is an “array of noon-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures”.

Now think about that for a second. If you have the highest IQ in the room, but are clueless of your own state of being and of those around you, how can you communicate, understand and interact? Let me give you an example.

            When talking to people, are you perceived as angry, obnoxious, caring, supportive, appreciative, or nonchalant? Do you know? Are you aware of your own emotions all the time? Are you able to see others? Are you able to feel others? Are they angry? Relaxed? Receptive? Do they seem preoccupied? And finally and perhaps most important of all, is your intended message being broadcast the right way, received the right way and perceived and understood in the intended way?

            The ability to “see” others and understand them, with a clear understanding of who you are and where you are on an emotional level is the very core of emotional intelligence. And that, my friends, is the very basis of human interaction. Many of us will attest that the best people around us are those who “get us”, or understand us. Further, most of us will attest that if someone is to communicate with us in the right way, they are able to get “almost anything from us”.  That is the very definition of being aware of who we are and what we need and who others are and how we communicate with them.

            Over the next few articles I will be discussing the importance of EI in several fields of life. I hope this sets the background for what is to come as I promise you that the data and the literature on this topic is nothing short of fascinating.