Real Emotional Intelligence

EQ IcebergSomeone asked me last week what exactly Emotional Intelligence was. I explained that its a combination of factors namely (Goleman) Self Awareness (to be aware of ones own emotional state, emotional reactions and focus of attention), Self Management (the ability to regulate those emotions and reactions), Motivation (the ability to rise to a challenge and maintain the energy required), Empathy (the ability to understand other peoples emotions and be present for/to them) and Social Skills ( the ability to interact with others and build social networks).  I explained that it was totally seperate from IQ in that it was not Intelligence in the normal sense that we have come to know over the years and that it seems that Emotional Intelligence is very important to success in life.

The response was “So?”. “Well” I continued – “people who are successful and particularly business managers are shown to have high Emotional Intelligence and the higher the Emotional Intelligence the more chance of being really good at your job and moving up the organisation.” The response was “So you’re telling me that people with better motivation and social skills basically make better managers”. “Yes” I said, happy my point had gotten across. “But” the reply came “That’s common sense. We all know that. Whats new about that?”

Oops – I was stumped for a sec – so I said “Well now its proven to be true” and winced inwardly. I deserved the look I got from my inquisitor. So I stopped for a bit and I thought it out before saying – “I suppose its about the old rule, you can’t improve what you can’t measure, so the fact that the factors have been identified and are now measurable means you can tell what someones EQ level is and work on its improvement.” I explained the EQ was the Emotional Quotient that is the measure of one EQ (as IQ is for Intelligence).  For this I got a nod which said “Maybe this guy does know what he is talking about”….”Maybe!”.

But its an excellent question and one which brings into focus the question of competencies and their measurement. There are more definitions of Emotional Intelligence than Golemans. Two of the most respected are those of Higgs and Dulewicz and Mayer and Salovey (more on those anon), but the measurement instrument that is most popular is the Rueven Bar-on model which was named after its developer and provides an EQ-i score from a test based on 133 items. These questions are sectioned to address: Intrapersonal – comprising Self-Regard, Emotional Self-Awareness, Assertiveness, Independence and Self-Actualization; Interpersonal comprising Empathy, Social Responsibility and Interpersonal Relationship; Stress Management comprising Stress Tolerance and Impulse Control; Adaptability comprising Reality-Testing, Flexibility, and Problem-Solving; General Mood comprising Optimism and Happiness.

Given the EQ-i measure of Emotional Intelligence has been around for a while there have been a few interesting trends evolving – particularly where there is a suitable base for research – North America. One such trend is that Emotional Intelligence tends to improve as you get older. And peaks – on average – in ones late 40’s. A form of wisdom perhaps. Also interesting is that there is no difference between ethnic groups. Most fun of all however – definitely for the social dinner gathering this one – is the finding that females are more aware of emotions than males while the latter are more adept at managing emotions than the former. I don’t know about you but there are definitely a few times and places where I wouldn’t bring that up without wearing my motorcycle helmet.

Aidan Higgins

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