When emotional intelligence first garnered significant media attention back in the 1990s, it really hit home for people. For the first time we all had an explanation for an unusual finding: people of average intelligence outperform people with the highest levels of intelligence the vast majority of the time (70% to be exact). Suddenly we had a name for the main determinant of success in life: emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is critical to managing your behavior, moving smoothly through social situations, and making critical choices in life. There are four emotional intelligence skills and they group under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.
- Self-Awareness is how accurately you can identify your emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across time and situation.
- Self-Management is how you use awareness of your emotions to create the behavior that you want.
- Social Awareness is how well you read the emotions of other people.
- Relationship Management is how you use the first three emotional intelligence skills to manage your interactions with other people.
The three do not go together in any meaningful way. Emotional intelligence explains a fundamental element of your behavior that is unique from your intellect. You cannot determine someone's IQ based on their EQ and vice versa. Intelligence is how quickly you absorb new information and it does not change throughout your life. Emotional intelligence is unique because it is a flexible skill that you can improve with practice. Anyone can develop a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Like IQ, your personality does not change. Personality is the style with which you approach the world: what motivates you and the people and situations that give you energy (versus those that drain it). One example of this is the tendency we all have to be introverted or extroverted.
Emotional intelligence has a massive impact upon personal and professional success. TalentSmart has measured the EQ of close to a million people now and we find that this skill accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs. Emotions are the primary driver of our behavior. Working to improve your emotional intelligence results in improvements in many areas of your behavior. We've found that more than 90% of top performers have high EQs. High EQ individuals make $29,000 more on average than those with low EQs and every point you add to your EQ adds $1,300 to your annual salary. You can read more about this research in the #1 bestselling emotional intelligence book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Just click the link at the top of this page that says "EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE BOOK."
Your brain is hard-wired to give emotions the upper hand. The limbic system (the emotional brain) reacts to events first before we have the opportunity to engage the rational brain. The communication between these two areas of the brain is the very definition of emotional intelligence. EQ requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centers of the brain.
“Plasticity” is the term used to describe the brain's ability to grow new connections between neurons that facilitates the use of new behaviors. Your brain loves efficiency: the skills you practice are the skills your brain will make it easier for you to repeat. When you work to increase your EQ, the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain branch off small “arms” to communicate with the cells around them. A single cell can grow upwards of 10,000 connections to the cells around it.