Do you recognise the emotion you are currently experiencing? Can you manage those feelings without becoming overwhelmed? Can you push yourself to get work done? Do you anticipate and appreciate the emotions of others and respond appropriately?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should congratulate yourself, you have clearly developed a number of or all of the skills that form the basis of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence has been understood and discussed for the last few decades. It has had different names – from ‘social intelligence’ to ‘emotional strength’ – but its importance has always been undeniable. According to talentsmart.com –  90% of top performers have a high EI and it’s responsible for 58% of our job performance.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) facilitates our capacity for resilience, motivation, empathy, reasoning, stress management, communication, and enables us to successfully read and navigate any number of social situations and challenges. In essence, EI helps us to enjoy a more fulfilled and happy life.

It’s a challenge to quantify EI in terms of numbers, however, EI can be thought of a person’s ability to be:

  • Self-aware: knowing ourselves, our traits, our behaviours, and emotions.
  • Self-manage and self-regulate: having the maturity of thinking to control our emotions, and how we respond to different situations.
  • Self-motivated: generating the drive to deliver, perform, act, and reach towards our goals.
  • Empathic: understanding and recognising the feelings and perspectives of those around us and relating to them more effectively.
  • Relational: encompassing our ability to develop and build relationships, network, lead, manage challenges and work with others.

Why does emotional intelligence matter?

Emotional intelligence offers vast benefits in terms of both personal and professional success. It is a key requirement in many vocations, can support the advancement towards academic and professional success, improve relationships, and boost communication skills amongst other things.

People who demonstrate a higher level of EI tend to perform better than those with lower EI in life overall, regardless of IQ. Proficiency in EI is becoming an essential skill in ‘emotional work’ such as nursing, social work, the service industry, and management roles. High EI improves the physical and mental health of people and encourages improved business performance.

EI is also key in developing and maintaining successful human relationships. There are significant links between high EI and healthier interpersonal relations. Those participants who exhibited greater levels of EI also demonstrated empathy, teamwork and developed loving and more satisfying relationships and improved social skills.

Higher levels of emotional intelligence can also affect the physical body in a multitude of ways. People who demonstrate EI, tend not to suffer from chronic stress, anger, depression, and anxiety which can be responsible for hypertension, heart problems, and diabetes; reduced immune system, and infections.

Life is an inherently sociable construct. Without the ability to function well, it’s doubtful how far intelligence alone will get you. As Theodore Roosevelt said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Emotional Intelligence and our ability to draw on it benefits us in a number of ways: from our physical and mental health and well-being to our ability to inspire and lead. It helps us create positive relationships and manage effective conflict resolution. It should be considered a key driver for success.

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?

Your success in the workplace can be affected positively or negatively by your level of EI. Workplaces are generally relational environments. They contain a myriad of different personality types, skillsets, strengths, and emotions. EI affects every decision and action within the business’ operations. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence, in general, are more successful in the workplace as they can handle what needs to be done and the people they need to work with. EI helps a business leader to build and manage successful teams and to be able to drive change and be flexible in their response to opportunities and challenges.

Emotional intelligence is a learned skill and takes practice and regular usage to work to its’ full capacity. However, developing it can provide you with a competitive advantage in life – both professionally and personally.