What is the secret of success? According to a new study by Talent Smart and published in Psychology Today, the secret of success in the workplace may be having a high emotional quotient (EQ). Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence “is the ability to understand, manage, and effectively express one’s own feelings, as well as engage and navigate successfully with those of others.”
Their research showed that 90% of high performers in the workplace possess a high emotional quotient, while 80% of low performers have a low EQ.
There are many different tests (and whole books written) on the topic of emotional intelligence and how to determine your emotional quotient. Here’s a short one from the University of Washington. Of course, most of these tests are self-graded so there may be a bias if a person is unrealistic in their self-assessment.
According to the Psychology Today article, here are five ways to boost your emotional intelligence:
1. Improve the ability to deal with so-called “negative“ emotions. While the author of the article defines some emotions as negative, the reality is that most emotions can be constructive if we learn to express them in a helpful way. Learning to deal with anger, frustration, and other difficult emotions in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us or affect our judgement is critical to success. There are many ways to deal with difficult emotions, which include: writing them out, going for a brisk walk, waiting a while before sending out that angry e-mail, or spending time in nature. Of course, these are just a few. I’d love to hear from you about the ways you deal with difficult emotions.
2. Stay cool under pressure. Boosting the ability to remain calm under pressure is one way to handle stressful situations in an assertive, rather than a reactive, way. Simply breathing deeply and counting to ten prior to expressing anger can be helpful. Similar to number one, vigorous activity or spending some time in nature can also help us keep our cool.
3. Pay attention to social cues. People with a high EQ are generally more accurate in their interpretation of others’ emotional, verbal, and physical expressions. They also tend to be effective at communicating their intentions. The author suggests coming up with multiple interpretations of someone’s expressions or actions instead of jumping to conclusions about his or her behavior. And, avoid personalizing someone else’s behavior. Seek clarification about someone else’s intentions or feelings if you are uncertain.
4. Be assertive and express difficult emotions when necessary. Set boundaries. Say “no” if you really need to and don’t feel guilty about it. Avoid trying to be superwoman or superman, taking on every responsibility that someone throws at you. I’ve been asked on occasion why I seem to have a positive outlook on aging while so many people desperately try to look and act younger. My response is simple: I would never want to go back to being younger now that I’ve gained more confidence and a stronger sense of myself, along with the ability to say “no” and set clear boundaries, without feeling guilty.
5. Express intimate emotions in close relationships. Another key to success is building and maintaining strong intimate relationships and one of the best ways to do that is to learn to share emotions in a constructive way and respond positively when another person does so. Of course, knowing with whom to share these emotions is also imperative. Some emotions are best reserved for strong personal relationships, not just acquaintances. But finding ways to let someone know they are important, cared for, or loved is important to relationships but also our self-worth and our emotional quotient. As John Donne aptly wrote, “no man is an island.” Strong relationships give us a solid foundation from which to experience life.
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