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Emotional Intelligence: Why EQ is the New IQ

So you’ve heard the phrase ‘emotional intelligence’, but do you know what it actually means  and why honing it may help your career?

Emotional intelligence – or EQ (’emotional quotient’) – is a combination of character attributes that can determine success in your life and at work. A great EQ will set you apart from peers, colleagues or potential job candidates, and will help you to handle emotionally demanding experiences throughout your career.

With many employers starting to value emotional intelligence over and above IQ, it is becoming increasingly crucial to prove that you are able to manage your emotions in different environments, and use your emotions to guide thought and behaviour in order to achieve your goals.

What determines EQ?

Emotional intelligence is broadly understood to be a combination of the following characteristics:

  • Self-awareness

Being aware of your own emotions, strengths and weaknesses. This also means knowing and preparing for these to change in different environments.

  • Social awareness

Being familiar with the feelings and mood of those around you so that you can respond appropriately. It is not enough to only understand yourself.

  • Managing yourself

The ability to manage and regulate your emotions. In the workplace this might mean having the flexibility and sensitivity to adapt your emotions as required.

  • Managing relationships

The ability to control your communications and ensure a positive solution is achieved. This also incorporates managing your interactions to encourage respect and trust (e.g. knowing how to cheer up or calm down another person as necessary).

Why does emotional intelligence matter?

Job satisfaction is a key consideration for both you and your employer  and, very often, the happiest employees are those who have an intuitive ability to adapt to different emotional environments, such as a successful networking experience or a valuable debate with a colleague. But whilst the idea of EQ may sound daunting, it is possible to hone emotional intelligence, whether by practising mindfulness or enrolling in a short course.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Practice rationality

Are you angry at your manager? Have you felt this way before? Connect your feelings to a specific instance and try to be rational about what is happening. It could be a personal occurrence that is shaping your relationship with your co-workers. In order to control your emotions, you need to understand their origin.

2. Speak to your team

Take the time to observe the people around you. Whilst some of your colleagues will prefer ‘no fuss’ communication, others may take your feedback to heart if you aren’t emotionally aware.

3. Learn to be patient

Clear your mind each morning and learn to step back and analyse a stressful situation impartially. Try to refrain from interrupting those around you, and stop thinking about the fifty things you need to do all at once! A builder in their apprenticeship training who acts with haste is of little value on a real construction site, and the same goes for your dream career, whatever it is.

4. Respond, don’t react

Reactions are involuntary and based on your own individual emotional state. By contrast, a response is a conscious process in which you determine how you feel, how the other person feels, and work out the best way to approach the situation accordingly.

5. Always stay accountable

This is particularly challenging for young professionals, but it pays to create a positive environment by taking responsibility for your actions. Your behaviour comes from your decisions and nobody else. If you lash out, remember that this is your decision. Maintain your emotional intelligence to demonstrate maturity; a win in the eyes of employers.

6. Education options

Education is a great way to develop EQ and is employed by many small and large businesses when training their staff. If you enrol in a TAFE course, short course or internal workshop, this will help you learn to control your emotions within a structured, recognised program.

Ultimately, emotional intelligence is something that is developed through experience. By choosing to strengthen the relationship you have with your colleagues and contacts, you can enhance your prospects at both your current job and any future opportunities. Learning how to handle your feelings will also benefit your personal life, as EQ helps minimise the stress and anxiety that you might otherwise take home. So sit down and take some time to get in touch with your sensitive side: EQ is the new IQ, after all.

Written by:

Caroline writes the blogs for Kangan Institute. She is passionate about TAFE courses, careers, and giving career advice to students of all ages.

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