“Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” – Roger Ebert
Emotional Intelligence, also known as EQ, is defined as “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, emphathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict” (Segal, et al., 2020). Emotional Intelligence was acknowledged as early as the 1930s by Edward Thorndike, when he referred to it is “social intelligence”, however, the concept of emotional intelligence only became popularized in 1995 after the publication of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by psychologist and New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman (Virkus, 2009)
Am I emotionally intelligent?
During our class on emotional intelligence, we all got to take a test that tells us what level our EQ is at. The test is called the Empathy Quotient (EQ) questionnaire, found on the website psychology-tools, and I scored a 70 out of 80. Higher scores indicate greater levels of empathy and EQ and to be honest, the score did not surprise me.
Personally, I am someone who has always had a higher level of emotional intelligence and I feel EQ is just as important as IQ, sometimes even more. Throughout my life, I have found that even though I am gifted with high intelligence, my high EQ is what allowed me to form relationships and what helped me be a good friend, daughter, sister, and aunt and in the future is what will help me be a good colleague, boss, significant other, mother and more. I feel like due to having a high EQ, it’s easier for me to understand people and see things from their perspective. It’s what assists me in knowing whether my mum is in a good or bad mood in the morning, it’s what helps me notice when my friends seem off, even if they don’t tell me, I can usually tell from the tone of their voice, or even from the way they text. Of course, as a child my EQ was not as high as it is now as once in a blue moon, I would have outbursts of anger which would involve me yelling and just being mean towards my friends if they upset me too much. But of course, this it to be expected because as research shows even though development of EQ begins in infancy, it is usually still lower in children than it is in teenagers or adults (Brackett & Cipriano, 2020).
Why is EQ important?
A video from The School of Life talks about emotional intelligence and how it can help us in life. Socially, EQ is felt in regard to sensitivity to other’s moods and in the ability to grasp the issues that they may be facing beneath the surface. In the workplace, EQ can allow us to interpret other people’s moods and is what allows us to understand that your boss or coworker being a bit snappy might be having a bad day and someone being overly joyful might actually be a mask disguising their sorrow. In relation to ourselves, EQ shows up as scepticism towards our emotions such as anger, love, desire, envy, and anxiety. It allows us to have greater self-awareness and look to uncover what our emotions could actually mean.
It can also help you to accept criticism and responsibility, say no when you need to, share your feelings with others, know why you do the things you do and can stop you from being judgmental of other people among many other things (Cherry, 2020).
Despite all the pros having a high EQ does have its cons. In a professional setting having a high EQ can cause a manager to have trouble giving employees negative feedback as they may fear hurting their feelings or can be hesitant to make bold decisions or changes as they want to keep the peace. They also risk being heavily focused on emotional aspects of communication which could obscure their logic. In addition, individuals with high EQ are more likely to have a well-developed ability to manipulate other people. So, while having a high EQ is a desirable trait, it is important to balance it out (Chamorro-Premuzic & Yearsley, 2017).
How will I improve?
After reading about all the things that having a high EQ can help you with, I think it’s important for it to be taught in schools and universities, and even for parents to teach their children as well. Unfortunately, there are still so many people who think EQ is unimportant or think that praising high EQ levels is a way for less intelligent people to feel better about themselves even though research shows us different. Although, I have a high level of EQ, I still have many areas to improve such as being able to share my feelings with others or being able to move on after I make a mistake. I am currently working on those problems. At the moment, I am lucky enough to have a couple of people in my life that I completely trust and feel comfortable sharing my feelings with and in regard to moving on after I make a mistake, I think I can do that by accepting that what happened has happened, forgiving myself and then reflecting and learning from the mistake, so I don’t repeat it in the future. It’s difficult to master this overnight but I am currently doing it and I hope in a year I’ll be able to do this effortlessly.
Brackett & Cipriano.  Emotional Intelligence Comes of Age [Online]. Available from: < https://dana.org/article/emotional-intelligence-comes-of-age/ > [Accessed 24 April 2021].
Chamorro-Premuzic & Yearsley.  The Downsides of Being Very Emotionally Intelligent [Online]. Available from: < https://hbsp.harvard.edu/product/H03EGE-PDF-ENG#:~:text=The%20drawbacks%20of%20higher%20EQ,to%20challenge%20the%20status%20quo. > [Accessed 30 April 2021].
Cherry, K.  What Is Emotional Intelligence? [Online]. Available from: < https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-intelligence-2795423 > [Accessed 24 April 2021].
Segal et al.  Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ) [Online]. Available from: < https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/emotional-intelligence-eq.htm > [Accessed 24 April 2021].
The School of Life.  What is Emotional Intelligence? [Online video]. Available from: < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgUCyWhJf6s > [Accessed 24 April 2021].
Virkus, S.  Leadership Attributes: Trait Approach [Online lecture notes]. A Brief History of Emotional Intelligence. 2009. Tallinn University. Available from: < https://www.tlu.ee/~sirvir/IKM/Leadership%20Attributes/a_brief_history_of_emotional_intelligence.html > [Accessed 24 April 2021].