Emotional Intelligence: What is it?

By Matt Arnerich - Inspiring Interns - London

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In the first of our trilogy of posts on emotional intelligence, we introduce the idea of emotional intelligence and explain what on earth it means.

One of the big buzzwords of recruitment nowadays, emotional intelligence (EQ) is becoming an increasingly important indicator of a strong candidates. But what exactly is EQ and why is it becoming so coveted across the recruitment landscape?

What is it?

Emotional intelligence is essentially the ability to identify and control both your own emotions and the emotions of others. It can generally be split up into three skills:

Emotional Awareness – being able to recognise your own emotions and the emotions of others
Connecting Emotions – being able to connect your emotions to thinking and problem solving
Managing Emotions – being able to control your own emotions as well as the emotions of others

Essentially, you have personal emotional intelligence and outward emotional intelligence. These can be mutually exclusive, and both are advantageous. Being able to recognise and work with your own emotions is typical of a calm person, who can manage their stress, anger and happiness easily. By working effectively with these emotions, it allows them to make look at things more logically, and often involves periods of self-reflection to understand what’s making them tick.

Alternatively, outward emotional intelligence is characterised by high perceptibility; traditionally you might be described as a good reader of people. This can include being effective at reading people’s faces and body language, effectively working out what motivates them, and being to the effect of how you communicate. Over and above this, people with high emotional intelligence will be able to recognise how somebody’s truly feeling, despite what they’re attempting to project.


What's the point?

The ability to understand and regulate your own emotions is incredibly important to your ability to work effectively and productively. By truly managing your own emotions you can successfully avoid common problems for people who are prone to bottling up or misunderstanding their own emotions, including burnout, flare ups and low motivation.

Particularly relevant to the world of the business is using your EQ to perceive the emotions of others and effectively manage people goals and desires. By establishing what makes colleagues and customers tick, it leaves you in a strong position for both leadership and negotiation roles.

Do Employers care?

Importantly, more and more employers are understanding the importance of high emotional intelligence; it displays both your communication and leadership potential, as well as having a healthy attitude towards admitting to and learning from your mistakes.

Research by TalentSmart suggests that 90% of top performers are adept at managing their own emotions, allowing them to remain calm and in control during times of stress. While prolonged stress can lead to meltdown and a drop in performance, intermittent periods of stressfulness can help to increase performance through growth in attention and interest, and may even help to grow brain cells linked to memory retention. As a result, those that can control their emotions, and allow themselves only intermittent periods of stress, can often be the most productive.

Employers seem to agree, with a CareerBuilder study suggesting that over 70% of employers value emotional intelligence over and above IQ. It seems that in the connected world we now live and work in, standard intelligence doesn’t count for much unless you’re able to harness it with the ability to communicate with, and work alongside others effectively.

In the digital age it seems employers are valuing soft skills more and more, particularly for junior hires, and so by establishing and developing certain soft skills such as empathy, self-awareness and self-regulation, you leave yourself in a very employable position. 

Next time we look at why Emotional Intelligence is so useful in the workplace.

About the Author

Matt Arnerich works as a content writer over at the UK's leading graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns. He specialises in careers advice for young people looking to get into graduate jobs and internships, although writes across the spectrum of recruitment, job hunt tips and personal development. Check out the Inspiring Interns blog for specialist graduate careers advice, or if you're looking to hire a graduate, then get in touch!


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