You might not have heard a lot about emotional intelligence, but you use it every day. How much you have has a huge affect on your success in several areas of your life, including your career. In fact, 90% of the people who perform the best at their jobs have high emotional intelligence, and 58% of a person’s ability to lead can be explained by their emotional intelligence. Since higher emotional intelligence correlates with improved job performance, it also correlates with higher annual income.
Emotional Intelligence is also useful outside the world of work. It’s hugely important for managing relationships with friends and family. Most conflicts between people can be prevented or handled in a healthy way by using emotional intelligence to understand ourselves and each other.
What is emotional intelligence?
It’s the ability to perceive and manage the emotions of yourself and others. Of course, perceiving and managing emotions are two completely different things, and so are your emotions versus another’s. That’s why emotional intelligence is split up into five different categories: internal motivation, self-regulation, self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness.
1. Internal Motivation
Internal motivation is the ability to make yourself work with little to no pressure from others. Some sources of internal motivation include curiosity, a desire to fulfill your potential, and/or a desire to see your vision come to life. If you’re highly internally motivated, you might want rewards like money or praise, but they aren’t the driving force behind your behavior. This means you have more control over your productivity, because your motivation is self-generated.
2. Self Regulation
Self regulation is the ability to remain calm in emotionally trying situations. While many factors influence how you feel and may be beyond your control, if you’re highly self regulated, you’re good at controlling your reactions. You can make clear-headed decisions even if the world is falling apart around you. Also, if you’re highly self-regulated, you can easily adapt, because the discomfort that often comes from change won’t make you stumble. Self-regulation is a necessary skill for people planning to go into jobs that are fast-paced and dangerous. For example, you would want to be self-regulated as a firefighter. If you panicked you could hyperventilate and pass out, endangering yourself and those you were trying to save.
3. Self Awareness
Self awareness is the ability to evaluate yourself socially and understand how your behavior is being perceived by others. If you’re self-aware, you know how you’re feeling, how you’re acting, and how you appear. You likely have a strong grasp on your own strengths and weaknesses, which means that you know where and how you’ll be most useful. This knowledge can make you a great leader because you have an understanding of what skills you may be missing and therefore where and how you need others to apply their skills.
Self-awareness can also help you train yourself to think about your emotions in a productive way. It requires self-reflection and interpretation, so if you’re self-aware, when you get upset you might start to think about why you feel as you do and find that the feeling is momentary, misplaced, or a catalyst for positive action. Doing this allows you to think of your emotions as part of a larger picture, so you don’t become consumed by them. Knowing the reasoning behind your emotions can also give you a greater sense of control over them, improving self-efficacy.
Empathy is the ability to understand how others feel and put yourself “in someone else’s shoes.” While no one can completely know for sure if they’re feeling what someone else is, If you’re highly empathetic, you’re good at intuiting what their feelings might be. If you’re highly empathetic, you’re also likely to feel pain when you see others in pain and pleasure when you perceive others’ pleasure, allowing you to connect with others emotionally.
5. Social Awareness
Social awareness is the ability to pick up on social cues and communicate well with others. It requires being quick on one’s feet in conversations. Socially aware people are often very good listeners, who can easily figure out what’s important to the people they speak with. If you’re socially aware, you’re also good at perceiving power structures and group dynamics and appealing to the proper people. As such, social awareness is a powerful tool that can lead you to fit in, thrive, and potentially become a powerful leader.
Emotional Intelligence Matters
Emotional intelligence matters because you need to work successfully with others to truly create value in the modern economy. When a team has high emotional intelligence, the workplace is welcoming, creating happier, more productive employees.
While all jobs require emotional intelligence to some extent, some careers depend on it above all else. Jobs in sales, for example, require superb emotional intelligence. In sales, once you become an expert on your product and the context surrounding it, you need to be able to build a relationship with a prospect, determine what they are looking for and provide it. All of these activities are based on a person’s social awareness and empathy.
At Awato we believe people should be aware of emotional intelligence and know what emotional intelligences they possess. Our assessment platform includes an emotional intelligence assessment to help you reflect and learn which intelligences you possess.
Knowing your emotional intelligence and how it corresponds with careers is useful for navigating the world of work. Just as you would want to know what hard skills are required to fulfill a role, you want to know the soft (subjective, universal) skills too, which emotional intelligence is a major part of. You can either use this knowledge to choose careers where you know your current emotional intelligence would be a good fit or to determine where you might like to improve your emotional intelligence.
If you decide you need to improve your emotional intelligence, there are several tactics you can use. They all boil down to two essentials: paying attention and brainstorming. If you pay attention, your habits will become apparent to you, and if you brainstorm you can come up with alternatives to your default thoughts and actions. Once you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it, take our assessment again to see how you’ve improved. You’ll find new and exciting career horizons open up for you.