Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace.So what’s all the hype about?

by: Sharon LeBlanc
Consultant: Training and Research

So you have a high IQ! What about your EQ or Emotional Intelligence? Not so long ago, it was believed that a high IQ was the primary ingredient for a successful life. Psychologists have recently discovered that Emotional Intelligence is even more significant. IQ addresses your analytical smarts; EI pertains to “emotionally intelligent behaviour”. Brains alone don’t make a leader. People can be savvy in ways that have little to do with IQ scores!

Daniel Goleman, the guru of Emotional Intelligence, says EI is the ability to be in tune with both one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, and those with high EI are able to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. Not so long ago, intelligence was measured by an “intelligence test.” It was usually based on analytical, mathematical, and verbal abilities and conveyed an Intelligence Quotient (IQ). It was thought that intelligence was a quantity, fixed at birth, and generally unalterable from then on.

Why is it that you often see a person with an incredibly high IQ working for a boss who has a lower IQ? Are we amazed when we watch interviews on TV with street people who seemingly are so eloquent and intelligent? Why can’t they find themselves a job so they can support themselves? The answer is Emotional Intelligence. Why? Because EI includes a set of competencies that allows one person to flourish while another person of higher IQ to flounder. Recently, there was a Canadian uproar with the possible release of Canada’s all-time favourite sports broadcaster, Ron MacLean. Why were people so upset? Because many people agree that Ron MacLean is the epitome of Emotional Intelligence. People respect, admire and gravitate to those who emanate emotional calmness, and sensible, empathetic opinions. Who cares about their IQ?

High IQ does not guarantee success in life. In his 1995 book, Daniel Goleman says IQ only contributes “at best 20% of factors that determine life success. A brimming 80% comes from Emotional Intelligence. Both types of intelligence are important,” he says, “but they’re important in different ways.” It’s little wonder that EQ is ranked so highly in the core competencies that decide a company’s achievement.

Major qualities that make up emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness. The ability to recognize a feeling as it happens is the basis of Emotional Intelligence. People with greater certainty about their emotions steer their careers more smoothly. A person who can stop and evaluate his feelings can usually change them.

2. Mood Management. Being able to neutralize a bad mood enables us to have balance in our lives. We often have little control over when we are overtaken by emotion. But we can have sufficient means to determine how long that emotion will last. Knowing that there are ways to defuse negative moods such as re-framing (that person who just cut in front of me may be going through a personal tragedy and is likely not thinking straight), exercise, and distraction (play music you love to calm your anger) will leave you less upset.

3. Self-motivation Motivating yourself for any achievement requires distinct goals and an “I can do it” attitude. You’re better off hiring job applicants who tested high in optimism but failed the aptitude test, than someone that passed the aptitude test but scored high in pessimism.

4. Impulse control Emotional self-regulation is the ability to delay impulse in order to service a more distant goal. Those who can delay gratification in pursuit of their goals are usually more proficient and self-assured, and better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.

5. People skills. Interpersonal skills, social skills and being empathetic (the ability to know how another feels) are EXTREMELY important on the job. Having the ability to read reactions of others quickly and accurately and being able to effectively deal with others is a social art. A simple, but sincere gesture, like the way you say “thank-you”, being a good listener, making EVERYONE feel valuable and important, are a part of building a supportive and loyal team of workers. The old adage that “people need to know you care before they care about what you know” still holds true. We should subtly send and capture feelings from each other in a caring and sensitive way, done with mutual honesty and respect.


Traits of an ideal employee with loads of Emotional Intelligence:


Most important are the intelligences that cannot be measured on a scale. Employers today demand and hire for these skills in the office-place:

  • self-directed reflective learner
  • effective communication to inform, express oneself, and persuade
  • collaborative participation
  • problem solving
  • creative production
  • responsible citizenship
  • community contributors
  • complex thinkers

Emotional Intelligence and Intelligence Quotient need not compete with each other. EI is not a substitute for ability, knowledge or job skills. It is the head working with the heart.

Evaluate your EI:

Of course, a professionally administered test such as the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory [EQ-i (r)] will give you an accurate evaluation of your EQ. However, if you want a quick, informal assessment, try the following quiz from The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, by Stein and Howard Book:

1. When I feel angry, I always know what triggered it. True/False
2. I often keep things in so I don’t offend people. T/F
3. I know my strengths and weaknesses. T/F
4. I like to make decisions independent of other’s feedback. T/F
5. I balance my time well among the people and things that are important to me. T/F
6. I take time to listen to how others are feeling. T/F
7. I donate time to community organizations. T/F
8. I’d rather not be alone. T/F
9. I enjoy solving people’s problems. T/F
10. People say I can read people and situations. T/F
11. I prefer doing things in new ways. T/F
12. I rarely get ruffled when things get stressful. T/F
13. I tend to look before I leap. T/F
14. I stay cheerful during difficult times. T/F
15. Those close to me say I have a positive attitude. T/F

Score one point for every true response. Scoring 11-15 indicates you are emotionally smart. Less than 6 suggest you need EQ help. Try calling Multi-Health at 1.800.268.6011 to take the BarOn test to receive EQ assistance.

What’s so important about Emotional Intelligence in the workplace?

  • Emotional Intelligence is essential when assuming interpersonal roles at the office such as motivating, managing, and mediating.
  • Leadership (having a talent for understanding people and yourself) may suggest you should consider a people-intensive career like sales or process training.
  • Team building qualities are invaluable in the workplace. Teams of people that work closely and effectively together are stronger than individuals working alone. Emotional Intelligence is often what holds these dynamic teams together.
  • EI with IQ enables problem solving, allowing one to be more effective in the workplace.

A good employee is an enabler. You hire people to create a team that advances yourself and the company. Every company needs leaders and followers, and you need to hire those leaders and team builders to lead the pack and show the way. These leaders and builders thrive in their preferred careers and sustain balanced and healthy lifestyles. No matter what their IQ, it is their Emotional Intelligence that separates these superstars from the mediocre performers and ensures they will be high value employees.


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