Emotional Intelligence: The Secret to Career Success

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The modern workplace is in dire need of people with soft skills. Team leaders and expert communicators commonly excel over those with only technical expertise. Yet soft skills aren’t taught as easily as technical knowledge is. How does one acquire more?

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What Is Emotional Intelligence

Individuals who want to improve their soft skills should first make note of their emotional intelligence. According to the psychology professors who coined the term, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. Later definitions added traits of empathy and motivation, but the core of the concept remains unchanged. Emotionally intelligent individuals are experts at understanding and relating to other people. They have mastery over their own emotions and use that mastery to help others.

One may be tempted to underestimate how much emotional intelligence matters in a career setting. The truth is striking: emotional intelligence leads to improved leadership abilities and greater job satisfaction. Those with high emotional intelligence are more likely to remain with a company longer and earn promotions and salary increases. Emotional intelligence is especially important in customer facing service jobs, but its fundamentals apply to every occupation. In a 2021 study of Spanish workers, high emotional intelligence was a stronger predictor of salary than both age and gender.

The Importance Of Emotional Intelligence

As alluded to earlier, emotional intelligence is especially important for leaders to possess. Emotional intelligence is linked to up to 60% of performance metrics for supervisors and executives. Employee engagement, turnover, and productivity are all affected by their leaders’ communication and management skills. Guest and customer satisfaction are also affected by a manager’s emotional intelligence capabilities. As author Daniel Goleman said, “the most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence….”

As is the case with conventional intelligence, some people are more naturally inclined to empathy and social situations than others. They possess an advantage. Despite that, emotional intelligence is a set of skills that can be mastered by anyone. To grow your emotional intelligence, work on understanding your feelings and monitor your reactions. Once you are better at recognizing your own emotions, it will be easier to see the same feelings in others. Mentors and journals can help you identify and manage emotional experiences as well.

Emotional Intelligence

Infographic source: GradSchool Center