We have been conditioned to believe that IQ is the best measure of human potential. In the last decade, however, researchers have found that this isn’t necessarily the case. In actuality, your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) might be a greater predictor of success.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a relatively recent behavioral model, rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 Book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

There are many definitions for Emotional Intelligence and its meaning is constantly evolving. However, at its most basic level:

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? It can be.

But how often do we also dismiss these skills because we’re so focused on the goals or our own process for achieving them? How many times do we find ourselves constantly being interrupted or interrupting others instead of taking the time to listen?

We can miss opportunities to be more effective leaders, because we don’t take the time to step back and make a deliberate choice about our reaction. We exclude the human dynamic as being as important – if not more important – than the goal.

What’s the Impact of High Emotional Intelligence?

It affects professional excellence

Some key findings from “The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook”

o EQ is so critical to success that it accounts for 60% of performance in all types of jobs.

o It’s the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.

o 90% of high performers are also high in emotional intelligence.

What Can You Do?

The great news is that emotional intelligence is a skill that anyone can learn. It’s highly flexible – and all it takes is some practice.

4 Practices to Developing Stronger Emotional Intelligence

Below are 4 different practices to try. Each one focuses on a different area of Emotional Intelligence. I challenge you to focus on one each week and notice the impact.

Clients are often amazed at the impact that subtle shifts in EQ can make in their daily work and their relationships with others. And the more committed and motivated they are, the faster the change happens. I’ve seen as much as a 25% increase in self awareness in clients, for example, within a time span of only 4 months. Imagine the impact over a longer period of time! This can give you the edge you need to be seen as an ever more impactful and successful leader.

1) Self-awareness: Watch Your Emotions.

Observe what you are feeling and doing as the situation unfolds. Monitor the thoughts and any physical sensations that arise with particular feelings. For example, when you get nervous do you sweat? Does your heart beat faster? Do you shut down? Go blank? Do you neck and shoulders get tight? Your job here is to just notice and then write down what you learn. That’s it! Simple huh?

2) Self-management: Powerfully choose your reaction.

Notice what emotions you are feeling and then stop, pause, breathe, and reflect before you take action. Our greatest power as a human being is the power to make a choice. In any situation – before the response – we get to choose our action. Instead of letting your emotional response habits get the best of you, simply try something different. In the moment: 1) Listen without responding. 2) Take a deep breath, clear your head and then choose the best course. 3) Step back and look at the situation objectively as if it were happening to someone else. Then choose away!

3) Social awareness: Notice the moods of other people.

Simply notice others and begin to assess their mood. What’s not being said? What’s the body language? What’s the dynamic of the room? Is it light, heavy, serious, intense? Spend time just observing the connection between how someone is behaving and what you perceive to be their mood? Notice what happens when you focus on others and outside yourself. Jot down what you notice – of if you’re feeling bold – ask someone what they actually are feeling and see how close you were!

4) Relationship management: Get to know others in a new way.

Spend extra time on small talk. Push your limits here. It only takes a minute or so to make a difference in an interaction. Also, don’t forget to acknowledge people. If you’re genuinely interested and care, say it! People love to be acknowledged when it comes from a place of authenticity. I challenge you to find something new about 5 people every day – and acknowledge at least one new person each day. Have fun creating great positive energy!

Good luck and have fun!