Your intelligence quotient, more commonly known as IQ, is said to assess your level of intelligence. You may have found yourself taking an IQ test as part of a job interview process, or even before being admitted into university, and a lot of emphasis is placed on the little score you're given; it is said your educational achievement, job performance and even income can be predicted from it.
As someone who has always been rather sceptical of how a test that asks me to figure out which pieces of a shape are missing can tell the world how "intelligent" I am, it comes as no surprise that I am more drawn to theories of EQ, which is said to be your emotional quotient. According to John D Mayer and Peter Salovey, two of the leading researchers on the topic, EQ is "the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions".
Numerous psychological studies indicate that a high EQ might be a greater predictor of success than IQ, despite the common misconception that people with high IQs will naturally accomplish more in life. The EQ Edge, by Steven Stein and Howard Book, suggests that while IQ is fixed and unchangeable, the real key to personal and professional growth is your EQ, which you can develop. But what makes EQ the elusive factor to success in the workplace?
"One of the reasons it seems elusive is that we tend to value it less than other skills," explains Stein, a clinical psychologist based in Canada. "We have paid little attention to these factors because we have focused so much on things such as intellectual ability, academic ability, technical skills and work experience. While these are all of importance, we tend to neglect emotional skills, such as empathy, assertiveness, interpersonal skills, optimism and other skills. The people who have developed these skills are the ones who make the greatest impact in the workplace. They contribute over and above their technical skills."
It is believed that by developing your EQ, you can also build more meaningful relationships, boost your confidence and optimism and respond to challenges more effectively.
Jayne Morrison, regional director of Six Seconds Middle East and Africa, a non-profit organisation that supports EQ in schools, businesses and families around the world, including the UAE, explains that having a higher EQ makes us more self-aware, which in turn makes us more adept at having fulfilling relationships with others.
"We all have emotions, whether we're the manager, the employee, the friend or the parents," she says. "Thoughts, feelings and actions are inextricably intertwined - each affects the other. People with higher EQs have more meaningful relationships because they have a greater sense of self-awareness, they understand their emotions and how these drive their thoughts and behaviours, and are mindful of how these affect others. People with higher EQs also make intentional choices in their interactions with others, using consequential thinking before taking action instead of drifting through life on autopilot."
Tips on how to increase your EQ
Helen Maffini, an educational consultant from Australia who specialises in EQ and has lived and worked in the UAE:
- Develop self-awareness and see yourself as others do. You can do this by taking time to reflect each day on how you acted and reacted and how those around you did. Becoming aware allows you to take a step towards managing your emotions.
- Learn to read facial expressions and body language. This is a skill you can acquire with practice. This will help you tune into people's feelings and moods and really hear what is behind their words.
- Learn to manage stress. Deep breathing is one effective way to manage stressful situations. Learn to breathe deeply and you will be amazed at how quickly you can change your emotions.
Jayne Morrison, regional director of Six Seconds Middle East and Africa:
- There are more than 1,000 words to describe emotions in the English language; most of us use about 10. And yet the foundation of emotional intelligence is emotional literacy - the ability to identify and interpret feelings. To develop emotional literacy, start recognising and naming feelings, increase your emotional vocabulary, and understand the cause and effect of emotions. Use feeling words. Ask people about their feelings and truly listen to their responses.
- To assist in making better decisions, at home and at work, I find these three questions incredibly powerful: What am I feeling? Consider cause and effect. What options do I have? Consider cost and benefits for self and others. And what do I really want? How does this align with my sense of purpose, my values and others etc?
- Probably the simplest, but possibly the most powerful, tip in assisting in developing empathy, building deeper connections and stronger relationships in all domains of your life is to use your ears and mouth in the ratio in which they were given - listen more, talk less.
Dr Steven Stein, author of The EQ Edge and clinical psychologist:
- Work at developing yourself. Learn more about your own emotions and how they affect your behaviours. Be more patient, pay attention to others and try to understand where they are coming from when you are interacting with them.
- Emotional skills are learnt more by doing and experiencing than by reading. Each skill will require some practice in the real world with others to develop, but by developing these skills you will be better able to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Six Seconds Middle East and Africa offers a range of workshops and assessments for those looking to improve their EQ. Forthcoming events in the UAE include:
Vital Signs Toolkit, February 17-18
Emotional Intelligence Certification, March 24-28
Coaching Emotional Intelligence Certification, April 22-25
For full listings please visit www.6seconds-mea.com/about/events