If you are a current or former Cisco Networking Academy student, it is a pretty safe bet that you have developed the tech smarts and the analytical skills to kick-start a healthy career in technology.
But how does your emotional intelligence stack up?
Emotional intelligence, known as your EI or even your EQ, is defined as the capacity to monitor your own and other people’s emotions; to recognize and discriminate between different emotions and manage them appropriately.
Put another way, EQ is that intangible “something” that determines how you manage behavior and social interaction.
All well and good, you might think. But it is your IQ that matters most in terms of getting through your education and succeeding in your career, right?
Well, there’s a growing body of research and opinion that says no, that is an incorrect assumption.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that when it comes to succeeding in work – and in life – it is your EQ, and not how “smart” you are, that really makes the difference.
There is More to Success Than Being Book-Smart
Your IQ or intelligence quotient is a measure of your cognitive abilities – your capacity to learn and understand. It stands to reason, then, that people with higher IQs should be able to outperform others with lower IQs; academically and in the workplace.
But in fact, studies have shown there is way more to success than having a high IQ.
For instance, it is your emotional intelligence that determines whether you find it easy or hard to form interpersonal relationships; and how easy you find it to fit in to the group situations – key in the workplace.
Your EQ can be broken down into five core areas or personal competencies, that link directly to how you manage yourself and your relationships with others at work.
- Social skills
Personal and Interpersonal Skills
Self-awareness and self-regulation are key, not only to your confidence in yourself and your abilities, for instance, but also drive things like adaptability and innovation – which are highly prized in the workplace.
Your EQ is also linked to your sense of motivation – your drive, initiative and optimism – as well as your ability to feel empathy with others; which is inextricably bound up with political awareness, service orientation, and your capacity to understand those around you.
Social skills too hinge on developing your emotional intelligence. From your ability to influence, communicate and collaborate with, and lead others, to managing conflict and being a catalyst for change ... the higher your EQ, the greater your ability to work in, or lead a team.
Studies have shown, in fact, that a whopping 90 percent of top performers have high EQs; whereas only 20 percent of the bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence.
Working on your emotional intelligence could well be the most important aspect of your personal development.
Building your EQ
The good news is that, unlike your IQ, your emotional intelligence is a set of skills that you can acquire and develop with practice and over time.
And there is plenty you can be doing to build up your core competencies.
Developing self-awareness, for instance, could be as easy as taking time out to think about you—be introspective. A regular walk, keeping a journal or asking people around you for their thoughts and input can help you gain perspective on your own emotions – and tackle issues head on.
Your emotions are only half of the story, though. Building empathy will help you navigate your relationships with others – at work and beyond.
You can boost your empathy in numerous ways. Start out by learning to listen to others, putting aside any preconceptions and making a genuine effort to understand their position.
From there, build your people skills – your ability to negotiate, resolve conflict, communicate, influence, and lead – links back to identifying and managing your emotions, and understanding those of other people.
Next time you find yourself in conflict with someone else, try to gain control of your emotions first. When you are calm, try to identify – and agree – on what the problem really is. And end on a cooperative note.
Research shows that people with higher levels of emotional intelligence enjoy more satisfying and successful careers and relationships.
So if you think about ways to enhance your EQ, you are likely to become more interesting and attractive to others; and you will also be giving your self-esteem a boost.