Why Employers Should Value EQ In The Workplace
By Doris Lam, Last updated: 2021-10-21 (originally published on 2019-08-20)
If you’ve ever found yourself taking an intelligence test online after say hearing about a child genius scoring record numbers on the news, you’re not alone. Recently, a 12-year-old girl made headlines for besting both Einstein and Stephen Hawking on an IQ test and causing people around the world to wonder “Will she become the next Einstein?”
In a society where IQ is often celebrated through societal systems from a very young age, the importance of EQ (emotional intelligence) is often overlooked. After all, IQ can be identified in one’s everyday tasks, such as the ability to solve mathematical equations, apply knowledge and skills, demonstrate analytical thinking, and generally having a good memory. EQ, however, can be harder to spot. From being able to recognise your own emotions to forming good relationships with others, a person with a high EQ is a valuable asset in every business.
EQ VS IQ
Often debated as book smart versus people smart, it’s been a recent topic of discussion, particularly for businesses that are intrinsically interested in delivering what people want, as well as those concerned with running their own businesses harmoniously (which probably should be everyone). In the context of the workplace, would you rather hire someone with clear textbook intelligence over someone who is highly emotionally aware? If you think there is an obvious answer, you’re probably not really looking at the actual question being asked.
If you’re hiring fresh graduates, someone with the highest GPA and most suitable skill set might seem the obvious candidate choice. But, according to Harvard Business Review, it’s EQ that is “the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers”. This is because people with higher emotional intelligence possess certain traits, including the ability to manage stress and emotions better, have a higher tendency to be hardworking, control their impulses, and more.
In the day-to-day business world where communication and interaction with each other is vital. Staff with high emotional intelligence could be the key ingredient to successful business operations longterm. Not only will it help with business meetings and networking by landing contracts and deals, but it will also help with staff collaboration within the workplace by improving staff motivation and strengthening employee relationships. It’s even proven in studies that EQ impacts an employees’ job satisfaction as they are more likely to create positive relationships, are therefore less prone to burnout, and have better overall job performance.
The Issue With Low EQ
Low emotional intelligence at work can cause problems in the office if you don’t do anything to break the cycle. Examples of signs of low EQ in the workplace include employees with the inability to adapt to changes in operations or culture; or managers who discourage flexibility and creativity when problems or suggestions come up. A good way to identify high emotional intelligence within your office is to observe your employee at social events or after-work drinks. Individuals that refuse to see others point of view, believe they are always right, have a demonstrated lack of understanding how others are feeling, and blaming others for being ‘sensitive’. Seemingly small patterns in interaction can reveal strong interpersonal relationships. People with high EQ tend to invest their time and energy in building quality relationships while those with low EQ do not.
If you see a bit of yourself in some of the above, or in some of your employees, fear not. There are ways to grow your EQ and to improve interpersonal skills in the workplace. Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be strengthened and learned through training and self-awareness. Start by implementing workplace programs to improve emotional intelligence so all can benefit. Then be sure to set an example to educate employees in learning communication strategies, improving sensitivity and encouraging self-management.
This is particularly important with leadership and management roles. Good leadership can greatly impact the attitude and efficiency down the chain of command. A leader that practices high emotional intelligence can communicate their ideas, improve their powers of persuasion, as well as give staff calm and appropriate solutions when stressful situations occur.
5 Steps To Improve EQ
According to psychology expert Kendra Cherry, those seeking to boost emotional intelligence should practice the following five steps:
- Become more self-aware of your daily emotions and understand your emotional triggers to understand your weaknesses and how to tackle them.
- Find soothing techniques to self-regulate stress such as taking up a new hobby, working out and meditating in order to clear your head before making big decisions.
- Learn how to relate to others by becoming more empathetic and at the same time learn how you react to people’s problems.
- Work on your social skills by becoming a good listener, learn nonverbal communication signs, and improve on public speaking skills.
- Focus on the positivity of your life and job rather than giving in to negativity.
At the heart of it all, IQ and EQ go hand in hand in order for someone to become a successful individual. But in the workplace, emotional intelligence goes a long way to help you become an effective manager and employee. As author and science journalist Daniel Goleman said, “The interest in emotional intelligence in the workplace stems from the widespread recognition that these abilities – self-awareness, self-management, empathy and social skill – separate the most successful workers and leaders from the average.”
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.