What is emotional intelligence ?

What is EQ ?

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ and EI, is generally regarded as a measure of how well someone can read and interpret other people's and their own emotions. Depending on what book your read it will vary slightly but that's more or less the basis of it.

This can take the form of visual, verbal or in some cases maybe even written communication. The ability to look at someones body language - particularly facial expressions - and pick-up on their emotions can be as important as what is being said.

While there are obviously comparisions of EQ vs. IQ, they are quite different in many ways and there isn't necessarily any correlation between the two.

What is Emotional Intelligence ? Can you understand the emotions within the facial expression ?

Is emotional intelligence actually intelligence ?

Yes and no. The Oxford English dictionary defines 'intelligence' as 'the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills'. In this sense, EQ could be defined as intelligence. It is certainly an ability and there's evidence that people can improve that ability so therefore calling it an intelligence would make sense.

However, within a common definition of intelligence (with respect to 'IQ'), it's perhaps not such a good definition.

Part of this problem is that it's not so easy to measure. The tests for IQ tend to be relatively clear compared to the tests for EQ, where there's much disagreement over how to test and what is actually being tested. Additionally, while there's little doubt about the benefits of a high IQ, there's also some disagreement about the relative benefits of various aspects of a high EQ.

Can emotional intelligence be measured ?

Part of the problem with measuring emotional intelligence is that there's not much agreement on the definition of EI itself. Without a clear definition, it's difficult to consistently test against that. However, there are currently three generally regarded models of EI - the ability model, the mixed model and the trait model. Each of these models has developed ways of assessing a persons ability against the model.

What else is Emotional Intelligence ?

Why is emotional intelligence important ?

The value of emotional intelligence cannot be underestimated. Part of the reason that EI/EQ isn't as regarded as IQ is because of the disagreement in what it actually is and the resulting problems with testing it. Because it's not so easy to test for, it's not as widely considered and therefore not considered enough. The fact is that in the vast majority of work, family and life scenarios the ability to communicate your feelings and being able to understand other's feelings is vital. Everyone can of course do this just as everyone has some degree of IQ.

It's not uncommon in many jobs now to undergo a number of cognitive and intelligence tests. These tend to focus on two things. Firstly, they tend to measure IQ or perhaps more specifically, the problem solving ability of a person. The second tends to focus on the behavioural characteristics of a person - are they organised, are they a good leader or a good follower. Neither of these tests actually measure emotional intelligence although clearly there can be an overlap between behaviour and EI.

What isn't Emotional Intelligence ?

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

There's almost nobody that's worked in an office, building site, shop floor or any other workplace that hasn't come across the 'difficult' person. The person that just 'rubs someone up the wrong way'. This, without question, is a lack of emotional intelligence. There's a signficant difference between a manager that constantly annoys people and hassles people to get things done and a manager that just gets things done and that difference more often than not is emotional intelligence.

The focus within most workplaces is on skills, qualifications and so on. The CV is the defining measure of a person when applying for a job and yet it's almost impossible to get the measure of that person from a couple of pages of 'facts'. In reality, most recruiters who have any skill or experience will say that you can tell more from a person by the covering letter paragraph than you can from the CV. Small details can highlight the ability of a person to communicate effectively and quickly. This is turn is often a reflection of a person's emotional intelligence.

Most current interview techniques are too rigid. A typical 'can you remember a time when...' results in a formula answer which might assess the person's experience or ability. However, it doesn't indicate much about how they will deal with the next situation. How they handle the next delayed shipment and angry customer is more likely to be reflected in their emotional intelligence than any other measure.

This doesn't, of course, mean that the best business people have the highest emotional intelligence. In fact, many top business people have a reputation for being abrasive, rude and fairly adept at 'rubbing people up the wrong way'. The ability to get things done isn't directly linked to getting people onside.

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