Is EQ a Real Thing? Emotional Intelligence Explained

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Is emotional intelligence real?

When most people think of intelligence, they think of people with genius level IQ like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking.

But “”book smarts” aren’t everything.

Often times, those with high IQ and traditional “”book smarts”” lack some social skills.

This is where EQ, or emotional intelligence, comes in to play. While meerly, ‘having emotional intelligence‘, was seen as a sign of weakness a few decades ago…, experts now agree that enhanced emotional intelligence can provide benefits that allow you to enhance your life.

Today, expert psychologists, CEOs, and top level managers point directly to high ‘emotional intelligence’ as the critical factor that defines top performers from others.

In this article we’ll explore expert opinions, different perspectives, and the latest science when it comes to emotional intelligence, also known as “EQ”.

What is Emotional Intelligence? Is EQ real? The Science

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According the Harvard School of Business, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and manage ones own emotions, as well as the ability to recognize the influence those emotions have on people around you. 

Our emotional intelligence (EQ) impacts how we manage our behavior, make personal decisions, and navigate complex social situations.

The study of EQ was popularized by psychologist and science journalist Dr. Daniel Goleman in his bestselling publication—Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

As put by to Dr. Goleman, “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.”

It’s not that IQ is irrelevant he says, it matters, but for executive level positions, IQ is only the entry-level requirement.

EQ vs IQ : What’s The Difference ?

As confirmed by Healthline Dr. Alana Biggers, IQ tests measure your ability to solve problems, use logic, and grasp or communicate complex ideas (“”book smart””).

EQ tests measure your ability to recognize emotion in yourself and others, and to use that awareness to guide your decisions (“”street smart”” or “”people smart””).

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IQ –

IQ is short for “Intelligence Quotient” and is a measurement of how “”smart”” someone is as defined by their ability to use logic, reasoning, and pattern recognition.

EQ –

EQ is short for “Emotional Quotient” (also known as emotional intelligence) and is a measurement of ones ability to understand and handle emotions.

EQ is very different from IQ and people with high emotional intelligence (EQ) are known to have high levels of self-awareness, the ability to recognize their own emotions, and the emotions of others.

Those with high EQ can use this emotional awareness information to help them guide their thinking, behavior, decision making, and ability to adjust emotions to adapt to new environments.

Evidence For Emotional Intelligence?

In 1990 two psychologists Dr. John D Mayer and Dr. Peter Salovey set-up one of the first successful tests providing hard evidence of emotional intelligence. Because of their work, and according to PsychologyToday, emotional intelligence is now considered by many experts as an established intelligence.

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In 2006 psychologist Dr. Paulo N Lopes lead a study which found evidence that emotional intelligence, leads to better work performance.

More recently, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Sciences found evidence that “the cultivation of emotional intelligence can contribute to and provide many positive benefits to people’s lives in accordance with studies and surveys.”

“When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ).”

How Is Emotional Intelligence Measured?

Measuring intelligence of any kind is a difficult thing to measure.

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In 2019 Australian business professor Dr. Peter Joseph O’Connor did a comprehensive review of past studies on emotional intelligence. Through his analysis he found there’s currently more than 30 different measurements of emotional intelligence.

Out of those 30, there are three main techniques for measuring emotional intelligence.

1. Self-Reported Test

Self-report tests are the most common because they are easy to administer and quick score. But as one can imagine, self-reported tests are prone to bias results.

2. “Others”-Reported Test

Other-reporting, also known as “observer rating”, relies on a trained third party to assess your degree of emotional intelligence.

3. Ability-Based Test

Ability testing is now thought to be the most reliable way to assess EQ since it’s skill-based and unbiased. Ability tests have people respond to situations and are then compared to thousands of others answers.

According to leading business consultants TRG International, the assessments help people understand how they demonstrate self-awareness, empathy, how they authentically express their feelings.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence ?

Why is EQ important ? And what are the benefits of improving emotional intelligence?

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Test data is clear that raw intelligence (IQ) is directly linked to a better ability to see relationships between things, solve problems, and remember information…but these isolated skills alone only go so far.

It takes high levels of EQ for effective group communication, leadership, and establishing / maintaining both personal and business connections / relationships.

Emotional Intelligent Leaders

According to the Harvard University School of Business, good leaders excel in “social awareness and empathy”. They strive to understand other perspectives, feelings, and the needs of those around them. This enables those with high EQ to communicate and collaborate very effectively.

Emotional intelligence has been found to account for nearly 90 percent of skills that set some leaders apart from their peers.

Signs of Emotional Intelligence And Tips For Improving EQ

Some people are born with natural signs of emotional intelligence, but emotional intelligence is also a skill. And like most skills, emotional intelligence can be learned, developed,  and improved upon with time and effort.

Here’s some of the top signs and tips for improving emotional intelligence.

1. High Degree of Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a core sign of emotional intelligence. It instantly demonstrates the ability (or not) to self-identify strengths and weaknesses.

To improve self-awareness, look to recognize active emotions in real time and ask yourself “What emotion am I feeling right now ? ”. By accurately answering this question in your own head look to recognize the effect your active emotions are having on you and the effect they have on those around you.

2. Strong Social Awareness

High EQ allows you to place yourself in other people’s shoes, leading to deeper connections and awareness of society.

As written by Dr. Jeanne Segal, author for a leading mental health website,

“Being in tune with your emotions serves a social purpose” It connects you to other people and to the world around you.

Strong social awareness gives the ability to recognize and interpret the “vibe”, body language, and other nonverbal cues constantly being communicated.

For improving social awareness experts all point towards a handful of different things to focus on. But the overarching commonality is striving to understand the perspective of others.

3. Ability to Manage Emotions (choosing mood)

High EQ breeds self-regulation. It allows us to stop and think before we act or speak.

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It prevents impulsive decisions and the moments you would otherwise wish you could take back.

In 2010, a study published by the American Psychological Association, Dr. Stéphane Côté found that those who can self-regulate emotional-expressive behavior have higher well-being, more disposable income, and generally higher socio-economic status.

Medical Experts agree, by practicing mindfulness you can gain control of your thoughts, maintain control over your actions, and better manage your emotions.

Mindfulness is often thought of as ‘cliché’, but the science says otherwise. The benefits of mindfulness have been well-documented in lowering stress levels and reducing anxiety.

4. Excellent Ability to Manage Relationships

Those who are great at relationship management empathize well with others and influence people to become to best versions of themselves

According to mental performance coach and writer Eli Straw a building relationship skills starts with first paying attention to your own self-awareness. And then being willing to accept feedback.

5. Taking Time to Reflect

The ability to pause, reflect, and reason with emotions…, especially in a tense situation, is a vital EQ skill everyone can benefit from developing.

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According to the Harvard Business Review, “research has shown that reflection boosts productivity.”

Taking time to reflect is not a new concept and has been taught for thousands of years as an important part of life.

To improve reflecting, dedicate a time to breathe and think at a slower pace. This leads to a better understanding of what you’re doing and what you want out of life. 

Taking time to reflect can seem like a chore at first, but it’s been proven to lead to increase both independence and confidence. 

6. Understanding Others Perspectives

According to a study lead by Dr. Olivier Serrat from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, being open to candid feedback and new perspectives are both leading indicators of emotional intelligence.

It’s imperative to understand where others are coming from when you have strong emotional opinions that are at odds with other who have strong opposing emotional opinions.

7. Ability to Apologize

“Sorry” is one of the hardest words in history. It takes courage and strength to apologize

Doing so portrays empathy and humility, both traits that will bring you closer to people.

When you develop emotional intelligence, you become a part of a group that recognizes when they do wrong and don’t hesitate to apologize to the affected parties when it happens.

Those with EQ learn to apologize because they value relationships more than their individual egos.

Final Thoughts: Is EQ a Real Thing ?

Some of the smartest people in the world struggle with basic social skills. And some of the most successful leaders aren’t the worlds top mathematicians.

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Emotional intelligence is with-out question a real thing and has been proven so by leading researchers and scientific institutions.

It’s commonly said that there’s a yin to every yang, and EQ is certainly the yin to IQ’s yang. In order to function at the highest levels of society one must be well versed in emotional intelligence and balance IQ with EQ.

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