What does emotional intelligence mean for career development?

What does emotional intelligence mean for career development? - happy people sat round a laptop in a meeting room with nice art on the wall

When you first apply for a role, you’re interviewed, largely, based on your intelligence – but how much attention do we give to emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the subject of my next series of blog posts. It can help an individual become the best at what they do, be the best colleague possible and achieve career success. In this blog post, I’ll answer the question ‘what is emotional intelligence and why is it important for career development? In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how you can use emotional intelligence to fuel your career development. And in the final blog post in the series, I’ll share some top tips for improving your emotional intelligence for success in your career.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Peter Salovey and John D Mayer coined the term ‘emotional intelligence’ back in 1990. Emotional intelligence was then popularised by author and psychologist Daniel Goleman because of his book on the subject – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

A basic definition of Emotional Intelligence is:

The ability to identify and deal with our own emotions…

The ability to recognise and understand the feelings of others…

…and to adjust our own responses and our behaviours to others accordingly.

In other words, it is the ability to understand, perceive, manage, and adapt not only your own emotions but also others too. It can help an individual become the best at what they do. Be the best colleague possible and achieve career success. It enhances their ability to communicate, work in a team and build stronger relationships.

People with higher emotional intelligence can communicate more easily with others. They can understand how they feel, read their emotions, and then connect with them verbally on the perfect level. Rather than just letting their emotions run wild, emotionally intelligent individuals can control their own emotions and comprehend the emotions of others.

The ‘Other Kind of Smart’

Sometimes called “the other kind of smart,” emotional intelligence (EQ) is the counterpart to intelligence quotient (IQ). Both aspects are, in fact, extremely important. Whilst IQ is a strong indicator of your capabilities and potential, EQ has a huge influence on success in many areas. EQ answers the question of why, 70 per cent of the time, people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs (the standard kind of “smart”). Daniel Goleman, the author of the first book on the subject, made the case that cognitive intelligence is far less essential to success in life than the ability to navigate complex relationships and interactions.

But how can it affect your career?

In many jobs, you will experience periods of stress, difficult conversations, and challenging situations. You’ll deal with colleagues who are experiencing their own issues, both personally and professionally, and whose emotional intelligence may not match yours.

Those who have higher emotional intelligence will be colleagues who can read a situation quickly and deal with things efficiently, while still maintaining a level of calm that can transcend to others.

When you compare the accomplishments and relationships of people who listen carefully, understand body language, show empathy, ask questions, and respond constructively to stress versus those who don’t, who seems to have career momentum and happier home lives?

Five Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence

In his book, Goleman outlines five main characteristics of emotional intelligence.

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is an important characteristic and a great life skill to have in general. It is the ability to identify your own emotions and acknowledge where they come from (what has caused them) and how they can affect the people around you. Being aware of your feelings helps you understand how others might perceive you and your emotions. One example from the workplace may be using self-awareness to understand how you are viewed by your co-workers, clients, or managers. Therefore, you’ll be able to use this to understand your colleagues more deeply. Gaining their trust and building a stronger rapport with them too.

2. Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to control and adjust your emotions to create a more positive effect – staying in control despite varying emotions in a certain situation. The best way to self-regulate your emotions is to take a step back to think about why you feel a certain way. From there you can evaluate how you want to proceed and address the situation. Understanding your emotions and thinking logically about how you WANT to feel can result in much more positive feelings. Being in control of your feelings is a great skill in the workplace as your emotions can strongly affect others around you.

For example, a salesperson with strong ability to self-regulate will be able to control themselves in the face of a customer who is making a complaint. Listening to reason before delivering a measured and professional response. That will be given in a way that doesn’t escalate the situation further – therefore, keeping others in their team calm.

3. Motivation

Motivation links strongly to a person’s emotional intelligence as your desires can promote different feelings toward people and situations. For example, having the desire to complete everything on your daily to-do list may be displayed as intrinsic motivation to your manager – and serve as a way of fulfilling your own inner needs and goals. Being positive about the outcomes can lead to a stronger feeling of motivation to get the job done. That way you’ll crave more positive feelings and inner fulfilment rather than needing to be praised.

4. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to identify and understand the feelings of another person. If you can understand your colleague’s feelings, then you’ll be able to handle workplace situations more effectively. For example, if a colleague is showing signs of upset or dismay, an empathetic reaction may rescue a situation. Those with a high level of empathy can see things from someone else’s perspective making them more inclusive and welcoming.

5. Social Skills

Social skills are the skills you use regularly, the tools used to communicate and interact with others. Stronger social skills – including effective communication and respect – allow you to listen, speak and resolve conflicts more effectively. Strong social skills can most certainly be used in a work environment to further your career and are essential for leaders.  The strongest managers and team leaders will be able to effectively communicate with their teams. They will resolve any conflicts that may arise, removing feelings and emotions and applying logic and respect to resolve an issue.

So, in the future think about your emotional intelligence, and seek ways to improve it if you’re looking to progress your career. Identifying these characteristics and understanding emotional intelligence will help you now and, in the future, – at home and work.

Emotional Intelligence is one of the subjects we discuss in our Career Labs. Which provides employees with a dynamic learning environment to build career development skills. Find out more at https://antoinetteoglethorpe.com/services/career-conversations/career-lab-series/

2 thoughts on “What does emotional intelligence mean for career development?”

  1. Love this reflection Antoinette and wholeheartedly agree.
    The #’mentalwealth group coaching programmes I run are centred around building these skills and awarenesses together. I find not only do people begin to thrive and enjoy their career journey more as well. Alice 🙂

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