By Travis Bradberry
As co-author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0
, I’m often asked what all the fuss is about when it comes to emotional intelligence (EQ). People want to know why EQ is such a critical skill in the workplace.
When the concept of emotional intelligence was introduced, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: People with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ.
Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. Your emotional intelligence is the foundation for a host of critical skills—it impacts most everything you do and say each day.
Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.
Emotional Intelligence Predicts Performance
How much of an impact does emotional intelligence have on your professional success? The short answer is "a lot"! It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. TalentSmart
tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58 percent of success in all types of jobs.
Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we've found that 90 percent of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20 percent of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.
Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money—an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.
You Can Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the brain’s rational and emotional centers. The good news is that you can improve this communication. As you discover and practice new emotional intelligence skills, the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional Emotional intelligence requires effective communication between the brain’s rational and emotional centers. The good news is that you can improve this communication. As you discover and practice new emotional intelligence skills, the billions of microscopic neurons lining the road between the rational and emotional centers of your brain branch off small “arms” (much like a tree) to reach out to the other cells. A single cell can grow 15,000 connections with its neighbors. This chain reaction of growth ensures that it’s easier to kick a new behavior into action in the future.
As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. Before long, you begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it. And just as your brain reinforces the use of new behaviors, the connections supporting old, destructive behaviors will die off as you learn to limit your use of them.
This is why emotional intelligence is so important.
Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., @talentsmarteq on Twitter, is an award-winning co-author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
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