What is EQ?

Recent dialogue around business success has been singing the praise of EQ, for it's powerful benefits to company progress, and in growing a culture of teamwork and dismantling toxicity in the workplace. But often these same discussions advocating EQ fail to make plain what exactly EQ is.

So what is EQ?

Simply put, it stands for "Emotional Quotient", and is more commonly referred to as "Emotional Intelligence". While IQ focuses on your learned knowledge and intellectual abilities, EQ describes your social competence and understanding of human behavior.

EQ was identified and defined in the 1990's by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey, and has been written about extensively in years since by accomplished social scientists including Daniel Goleman. What they've uncovered is that the most common causes of failure and distress have much more to do with EQ than with IQ. Additionally, while IQ is important, EQ is a better determinant for success and happiness in the workplace.

EQ can be broken into four primary stages, each of which lends its own skills to the user.

Personal Understanding: The first stage is the ability to comprehend your own emotional state and reactions, based on your inherent and learned traits. While this sounds a bit "woo-woo" to those of us that are less "in touch with our inner selves", it isn't nearly as fluffy as it sounds. Using personality assessments and reading about character development are foundational to understanding our behavioral patterns and why we do the things we do.

Self-management: Once you understand your emotional tendencies and corresponding behaviors, you can learn to control them in a way that is more effective and healthy. This includes learning how to consciously pause and consider your emotional response before reacting in times of stress and frustration, and acknowledging your shortfalls when they appear, and being intentional about growing those areas. At Emergent, we consider this the most difficult level of EQ to apply and master.

Social Awareness: The same things you've learned about your own behavior can be applied to others. The third stage of EQ is actively learning and noting others' emotional responses, and understanding why it is they act in those ways. This is the platform on which we move away from inward thinking, but pay conscious attention to everyone around us and their joys, stressors, strengths, and weaknesses.

Relationship Management: The final stage of EQ is applying our knowledge of others' abilities and needs to our relationships and social interactions. Success at this level lies in application. However, by successfully managing our relationships with others, we are able to achieve new heights of health and happiness in relation to/alongside those with whom we interact.

EQ is not solely applicable to the workplace, but it can create dramatic progress when it is used in the context of an organization. Developing our emotional intelligence gives us the ability to have negative conversations in a positive manner, create healthy relationships with others we feel frustrated by, and allow for enhanced team building and leadership. 

Interested in learning more about EQ? Check out our upcoming event The EQexperience: eqexperience.com

About the Author

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Taylor McDonald is a social scientist with a BA degree in Psychology and a MSc degree in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology. She is interested in how culture affects communication and how cultural awareness impacts success, and is passionate about emotional intelligence development.

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