IQ is a reflection of your intellect, logic, and problem-solving skills, whereas emotional intelligence involves “soft skills” like empathy, communication, and leadership ability. Both IQ and EQ are important components of a person’s personality and pathway to success. While IQ is set, for the most part, at birth, EQ is something that can be crafted throughout our lives.
Our experts Lindy Smiley, SVP and Global Head of Human Resources at Starwood Property Trust, and Laura Berger, Founder of the Berdéo Group, touch on areas where we can fine-tune our own emotional intelligence, as well as learn to see and build it in others.
1. Understand Key Signs of Emotional Intelligence
The first step in detecting strong emotional intelligence in those around you and even yourself is knowing what to look for. “One key sign of emotional intelligence is being a good listener,” says Lindy. “This means more than just not talking too much. It means that when you are listening to someone, you actually hear the message they’re trying to send, not just the information that’s coming across through their words.”
Lindy also emphasizes empathy as a sign of strong emotional intelligence, as well as someone who can recognize their own strengths and weaknesses.
“People that are not very self-aware tend to have lower emotional intelligence,” she says. “A good example is when talking on the phone. When you ask someone one question and they go on for 10 or 15 minutes and don’t pause, this is a strong sign that someone is one-dimensional.”
2. Be in the Present Moment
Laura points to a piece she’s written entitled, “Is your dog more emotionally intelligent than you?” to explain the importance of curiosity as it relates to emotional intelligence.
“Dogs are very curious when meeting new dogs, looking at body language,” she says. “When we engage with people, have that sense of curiosity and homing in on body language. Increase awareness through curiosity and being in the present moment. Dogs are very much in the present moment. For humans, there’s room to move your emotional intelligence muscle by putting your phone down and taking notice of what is really going on around you.”
3. Develop and Fine-Tune Your EQ
Unlike IQ, EQ is something that can be developed and practiced in order to improve over time. So our experts recommend practicing and fine-tuning your emotional intelligence whenever given the chance.
“EQ is something that we can build over time,” Laura says. “As we interact with more people, we can develop a higher level of emotional intelligence. As you move into management roles, for example, you are being given more responsibility to manage and interact with more people. This puts you in a position to really flex and build your EQ.”
“Emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ as far as someone’s success,” Lindy points out. “They have to complement each other—you can’t have one without the other. But you can be stronger in one than the other, and as such, that might lead you in a different career path.
4. Be an Empathetic Leader
If you are looking for ways to increase the emotional intelligence of employees in the workplace, a good place to start is leading by example.
“If a leader is very compassionate and empathetic, the overall culture might be more likely to be that way,” says Lindy. “Make an effort to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and not always make it about yourself. This also comes with experience. When you’re starting out, you are more focused on yourself and what you need to do to get to the next level. But as you grow in your role and become more senior, you have to work on those skills of empathy. Everyone’s human, so if you want to get something out of someone, you have to understand why they think and act the way they do.”
Laura points out that once you get to higher and higher levels in your career, it might be more difficult to practice good emotional intelligence. “A CEO can choose not to modify impulses in decision making because it’s not up for debate,” she says. “So those in higher levels within an organization are not always emotionally aware.”
5. Learn to Look for Emotional Intelligence in Others
Our experts offer a few key tips to use when interviewing or assessing others to identify candidates with good emotional intelligence.
Laura recommends asking behavioral-based questions. “At the end of the interview,” she explains, “ask the person to share one area where they feel you could possibly improve upon. Someone once told me that I could use a new hairdo. I didn’t hire that person. This helps you identify how this person goes about giving feedback.”
Lindy suggests starting with the person’s image. “If they dressed too casually for the interview, it shows that they are lacking emotional intelligence,” she says. “How you present yourself is a reflection of EQ.
“Then, pay attention to the way they respond to questions—the length of their answer, their body language, their preparedness with appropriate questions. Finally, note how they close the interview. Do they have proper etiquette and manners? Do they shake your hand? Are they thankful? Do they write you a thank-you note? All of these things make up the package—it’s so much more than just qualifications on paper.”
As with anything else, building great emotional intelligence takes practice and self-awareness. Use these tips to help you flex your EQ muscles and learn to detect signs of strong EQ in others as well.
We are continuing our Just Ask TCI virtual program through 2020! It will remain free and open to the public, taking place from noon to 1:00 ET on the third Friday of every month. So bring your friends, grab some lunch, and join in on the discussion!