Woman Wearing Brown SkirtIn today’s workplace, an education in emotion goes to the head of the class

Play fly on the wall in the boardrooms of most Fortune 500 companies today and a buzzing selection of Ivy Leaguers will most likely be on hand. Human Resource departments are always looking for cream-of-the-crop business school graduates to join the company roster. However, more and more, employers are recognizing the value of Emotional Intelligence in their employee base. While a top-tier alma mater is always welcome on a resume, a candidate skilled in Emotional I.Q. offers traits invaluable to the progress of a healthy team and, by extension, a winning company. And those in leadership roles, especially, boast a greater level of success when they bring an impressive degree of Emotional Intelligence to their position.  

What defines the “Heart of Smart”?

Call it “intuition.” Call it “empathy.” Call it “social skill.” In truth, none of these terms adequately define Emotional Intelligence (E.I). The term, made popular by psychologist and science journalist Daniel Goleman in the 1990s, introduced a new type of human cognition—a seamless union of mind and heart. Goleman defined Emotional Intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” In its finest form, E.I. manages to connect traditional intelligence, empathy, and easily accessed emotions, greatly broadening the ability to enhance interpersonal communications.

According to Goleman, several traits accompany Emotional Intelligence:

Self-Knowledge: Understanding one’s personal strengths and weaknesses, and, perhaps more importantly, how these affect others. This fosters an ability to accept creative criticism and actually learn from it.

Self-Regulation: The ability to express emotions without complete abandon. There is a maturity evident in the dispersal of feelings delivered with restraint.

Motivation: Strongly defended against disappointment and obstacles, an unflagging optimism fuels inner ambition.

Empathy: An understanding of human nature coupled with the spirit of compassion. Empathy allows for a deeper personal connection and generates direct response to another’s adversity.

Social Awareness: The ability to build rapport, a sense of community, and to instill trust within a group. Power struggles and ego clashes are overridden by a genuine appreciation for what others bring to the table.

In a corporation, where a great variety of personality types and bristling egos must connect on a daily basis, the ability to identify, understand, and harness emotions in one’s self and in teammates can be a priceless commodity. Emotional Intelligence has been credited for an array of desirable qualities including ability to focus, to embrace accountability, to neutralize toxic coworkers, and to implement creative strategies. Meaning, if a system or practice within a corporation is failing, leave it to a team member with a soaring Emotional I.Q. to resolve the problem.

Wallets that feel thicker

A study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in November 2014 found that those who didn’t skim on expressing their feelings had higher salaries. Associate Business Professor at Illinois State University Yongmei Liu, who coauthored the study, found that employees who were able to display their emotions, while also taking into consideration other people’s emotions, were more likely to make more money than those who suppressed their true feelings.

“People increasingly rely on each other to get things done and that means understanding each other’s motives and emotions is a lot more important than it used to be,” says Liu.

There’s no tuition for intuition

No doubt, the education, the prestige, the door-opening benefits of a degree from Harvard, Yale, or Columbia, will take one far and bolster any organization fortunate enough to claim them as an employee. But these pedigrees don’t come cheaply. Conversely, Emotional Intelligence, a predictor of exceptional workplace success, can be acquired or strengthened at little to no charge. There is no shortage of information available on elevating one’s E.I. For the price of a paperback book, or even an eBook, increasing your Emotional I.Q. is available to anyone.

Set your own emotions in motion. Need a great place to start? Check it out here.  

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