Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work
By Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
(Notes from the journal of Douglas A Smith)
“Our civilization is still in the middle stage, scarcely beast in that it is no longer guided by instinct, scarcely human in that it is not yet wholly guided by reason.”
–Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie
(Quote from the journal of DAS)
The book begins by recounting the story of Phineas Gage who had an accident while working for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad that led to a change in our knowledge of how the brain works. Phineas had a railroad spike pass through his pre-frontal cortex on September 13, 1848. He survived and seemed to recover fully his intellectual faculties. But it soon became clear that he was not the person he was before in that he no longer had the ability to lead or to work productively with others. What Phineas lost was his EQ, his emotional intelligence.
Each of us takes in information from the world around us through the five senses. Everything we see, smell, hear, taste and touch travels through the body in the form of electrical signals. These signals enter the brain in one place at the back near the spinal cord. Complex, rational thinking happens on the opposite side of the brain, at the front, which is the same part that Phineas lost.
When electric signals enter your brain, they must travel all the way across it before you can have your first logical thought about the event. This chasm in the mind between the entry of our senses and reason is a problem because between the two rests the limbic system. This is the area in the brain where emotions are experienced. Signals passing through the limbic system create an emotional reaction to events before they reach the front of the brain. The front of the brain can’t stop the emotion felt in the limbic system. Instead, the two areas communicate constantly. This process of communication is the physical source of EQ.
Our brains are wired to make us emotional creatures. The fact that we experience the emotional response to an event first means that our primary feelings are strong motivators of behavior.
“When dealing with people, remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic but creatures of emotion.”
Billions of microscopic neurons line the road between the rational and emotional centers of the brain. Information travels between them much as cars do on a city street. When you practice EQ, the traffic flows smoothly in both directions. Your emotional intelligence is greatly affected by your ability to keep this road well traveled. The more you think about what you are feeling – and do something productive with that feeling – the more developed this pathway becomes.
- EQ is something in each of us that is a bit intangible. It defines how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.
- E.L. Thorndike, a professor at Columbia University, was the first to give EQ skills a name. His term “social intelligence” reflected the ability of individuals possessing these skills to get along well with other people. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) took on its current name. Powerful research soon followed, including a series of studies at Yale University that linked EQ to personal achievement, happiness and professional success.
- There is no known connection between IQ and EQ; you simply can’t predict EQ based on how smart someone is. This is great news because cognitive intelligence, or IQ, is not flexible. EQ, on the other hand, is a flexible skill that is readily learned. While it is true that some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, a high EQ can be developed even if you aren’t born with it.
- Personality is the final piece in the puzzle. It’s the “style” that defines each of us. Your personality is a result of your preferences, such as your inclination to introversion or extroversion. But like IQ, personality can’t be used to predict EQ. Also, like IQ, personality is relatively stable over a lifetime.
The four EQ skills tend to pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence. Personal competence is a result of your self-awareness and self-management skills. It is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.
“The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.”
Social competence is a result of your social awareness and relationship management skills. It is your ability to understand other people’s behavior and motives and manage your relationships.
- Personal competence is the product of your ability in two important skills, self-awareness and self-management.
- Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and understand your tendencies across situations. Self-awareness includes staying on top of your typical reactions to specific events, challenges and even people. A keen understanding of your tendencies is important; it facilitates your ability to quickly make sense of your emotions. A high degree of self-awareness requires a willingness to tolerate the discomfort of focusing directly on feelings that may be negative. It is essential to address and understand your positive emotions as well. Self–awareness is understanding.
- Self-management is what happens when you act – or do not act. It is dependent on your self-awareness and is the second major piece of personal competence. Self-management is your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior positively. This means managing your emotional reactions to situations and people. Self-management is action.
- Social competence focuses on your ability to understand other people and manage relationships. Social competence is the combining of two skills: social awareness and relationship management.
- Social awareness is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on with them.
- Relationship management is the product of the first three emotional intelligence skills: self-awareness, self-management and social awareness. It is your ability to use your awareness of both your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully. This ensures clear communication and effective handling of conflict.
An Emotional Epidemic
- Despite the growing focus on emotions and emotional intelligence, during the last two decades, the global deficit in understanding and managing emotions is startling. Only 36 percent of people tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. This means that two-thirds of us are typically controlled by our emotions and are not yet skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit. Emotional awareness and management are not taught in school.
- Most organizations perpetuate an environment that stifles emotional intelligence. Only 15% of workers surveyed feel strongly that they are respected and valued by their employer. Four out of every five people would likely leave their current job if offered similar pay and position elsewhere.
- The author’s analysis of EQ by gender suggests women on average have an overall emotional intelligence score that is four points higher than men’s. This difference is large enough to suggest that women typically express more skill using emotions to their benefit. Women outscore men in three of the four emotional intelligence skills including self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Self-awareness is the only skill for which the scores are equal by gender.
- Relationship between EQ and job title is the most dramatic. Scores climb with titles, from the bottom of the corporate ladder upward toward middle management. Middle managers stand out, with the highest EQ scores in the workforce. CEO’s, on average, have the lowest EQ scores. Only the unemployed have lower scores. Too many leaders are promoted because of what they know or how long they have worked, rather than for their skill in managing others. [This reinforces the USA Today article that speaks about 70% of CEO’s and those on a CEO track have “alpha male” personalities. My guess is that alpha males are not high on the EQ scale.]
- Yet among executives, those with the highest emotional intelligence scores are the best performers. The authors have found that EQ skills are more important to job performance than any other leadership skill. The same holds true for every job title: those with the highest EQ scores within any position outperform their peers.