What is emotional intelligence and why is it so important?


What is emotional intelligence, and why is it so important for personal and professional fulfilment? Find out what ‘EQ’ means, and how you can increase your own.

When it comes to enjoying professional success and mutually rewarding personal relationships, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as your intellectual ability (IQ) – if not more.

If you have a high level of emotional intelligence you’ll find it easier to build stronger relationships, create success at work, and achieve your career and personal goals.

Career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads Jane Jackson explains why emotional intelligence is so important and how you can boost your own EQ by mastering these key skills.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.

Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.

If you have high emotional intelligence you are able to recognise your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.

The four attributes of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence consists of four key attributes: 

  1. Self-awareness – you recognise your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviour, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
  2. Self-management – you’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  3. Social awareness – you can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognise the power dynamics in a group or organisation.
  4. Relationship management – you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

Why is emotional intelligence so important?

As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships.

Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.

Four areas of your life EQ can affect

Emotional intelligence has an important impact on every part of your life. Here are four areas it can affect.

1) Your performance at work

Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring.

2) Your physical health

If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.

3) Your mental health

Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.

4) Your relationships

By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.

Now read five key skills that will increase your emotional intelligence

Jane Jackson is a career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads. Her book takes you through all the essential steps to not only survive but THRIVE when changing direction.

Related Stories

Latest Help

view all ›