How does EQ affect career success?

Today, thousands of companies use EQ tests to determine how well new applicants will fit into their respective companies. Why does emotional intelligence hold such a strong influence over the hiring process? The answer to this question will help you to understand how your own emotional intelligence is affecting your work progress. If you’ve been struggling to make headway in your career, wouldn’t you want to know if your EQ was the reason? It may well be, and here’s why.

People with high EQ work well in teams together

Emotional intelligence is directly related to relationships

The fact that your emotional intelligence will affect how well you work with other people is inescapable. Developing a high EQ will enable you to recognise different personalities, and help you deal with each one effectively. Emotionally intelligent people relate well to others. Whether you work on your own, or within a team, you will eventually have to deal with other people in order to be successful at your career. Working well with others is directly related to job success, as we’ll soon discover.


As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In many ways this is true. Many people who are good at their jobs don’t progress in their careers because they struggle with relationships. A good relationship with your superiors and you colleagues can go further than good work ethic. Are you someone who wants to progress further in your current career? If you’re someone who needs to work on your emotional intelligence, this should be enough of a reason to get started.


Goal setting

Setting short term, mid term & long term goals is a habit practiced by people with emotional intelligence. Goals give you something to work towards. If they’re on your mind at all times, you naturally take small actions to achieve them—sometimes even subconsciously. While it may be obvious to some how this can positively affect your career, let’s investigate it a bit more thoroughly in the context of a work environment.


People who set career goals are always doing small things to reach them. Let’s look at someone who sets a mid term goal of being promoted within two years. They will take on extra tasks. Other times they will ask to be a part of meetings or new projects. At all times, these individuals work more efficiently, because the goal drives them to do so. This ultimately results in career success. It also gets them noticed by their company’s superiors, because they come across as focused & ambitious individuals who are going places. It’s all about moving forward as opposed to remaining stagnant.


Turning conflict into productive discussions

Conflict has halted many careers. It can get in the way of a promotion, and even cause you to quit your job or lose it against your will. Learning how to constructively handle conflict is the best way to overcome this danger and rise above it. Emotionally intelligent people have a knack for turning conflict into something more constructive. That’s because they have a desire to recognise the opinion of others. They have a way of thinking that includes the other person’s point as valid and worthy of exploration.


Because confrontational people appreciate feeling as if they’re being heard, conflict resolvers tend to handle them well. Imagine a work colleague complaining to you about something you’ve done. If you’re an individual with a high EQ, you will listen to the person’s point of view and aim to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of you both. You will also be good at conveying your own point of view without it seeming as if you’re drowning out theirs. This is what conflict resolution is all about—validating the other party’s opinion and being empathetic enough to take their feelings into account.


Adapting to change

Change will happen in any work environment whether we like it or not. Some people crave change, while others try to avoid it at all costs. Change is usually just another word for growth, and not being able to grow will hinder your career. A good way to develop your emotional intelligence is to learn how to embrace change. This is easier for some than others, but those who succeed in this mindset alteration often succeed in life.


Consider the stress and uncertainty involved when a company restructures itself. Employees may have to move offices, tackle technology challenges, and learn to initiate new tasks. Emotionally intelligent people can feel the same level of stress as the next person, but handle it very differently to a person who hates change. Individuals with a high EQ will refrain from complaining, and get on with what they have to do—no matter how many problems they encounter.


Owning up

Human beings are naturally defensive, especially when we think our jobs are at stake. When we make mistakes, our automatic response is to justify or defend the mistake. This is often a detrimental direction to take because it causes a lot of frustration for those affected by the mistake. In the end, more damage than good is caused by a defensive attitude to mistakes. This attitude deviates from a team mentality. Instead, it focuses solely on one person and his or her defense.


One of the most pleasant aspects of an emotionally intelligent person is their ability to own up to their mistakes and apologise for them. Because they are empathetic to other people, they immediately see how their actions have affected others. This leads them to admit to their mistakes and take responsibility for them. When a person takes this course of action rather than the former, superiors feel settled in the fact that the mistake will not happen again. On the other hand, defending your mistake makes people think that you haven’t learnt from it; but will instead make it again.


Natural born leaders

A popular sentiment doing its rounds on the internet lately is that there’s a big difference between being a leader and being a boss.  This is so true. Leadership books and seminars are a billion dollar industry across the globe. The question on everybody’s minds is, “What does it take to be a good leader?” Some say it’s natural talent, while others claim that leadership skills and be acquired over time. The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle; but what we do know for certain is that emotionally intelligent people make great leaders. Let’s look at why this is the case.


First of all, good leaders are good communicators. They can give instructions without seeming condescending or arrogant. Second, people respect natural leaders because they are easy to connect with on their own level. These leaders are not seen as above their team, but alongside them. Third, leaders possess the ability to resolve conflict among others. Most importantly, leaders have their team’s best interests at heart; which wins them the respect and loyalty they need to get things done.


Honesty, trust, work ethic

Work ethic seems to be on the decline. Punctuality has also become a rare practice among many people. This may stem from a lack of empathy. When people are more self focused, they have no qualms about making others wait. Trust, honesty and work ethic all fall into the same category when it comes to career-orientated EQ. Emotionally intelligent people make a point of being at work on time. They are trustworthy individuals and have no problem delivering on their promises at work.


Workers who are reliable in these three aspects of work are often successful at their jobs. They are the ones who pick up the slack when others are either off sick, late for work, or simply lazy at their jobs. Work ethic invariably leads to promotions, incentives and/or salary increases. For this reason, emotionally intelligent people have an edge over the rest when it comes to career success.


Dealing with emotions constructively

Owning and dealing with an emotion will serve you well in your career. It’s a skill that has been mastered by those with high emotional intelligence. People with a high EQ know how to recognise an emotion without letting it take them over. From there, they are able to deal with it effectively without disrupting their work. Being in control of your anger, despair and fear is the secret to productivity. It allows you to separate yourself from irrational feelings and remain professional in any situation.


Let’s look at a quick example. A colleague has sent you a rude email about a project that hasn’t yet been received. Your initial assumption is that he will communicate this to your superior and gossip about your alleged incompetence to others in the office. This fear needs to be recognised immediately and subsequently dealt with. Someone with a low EQ may react to the email prematurely without thinking it through first, thereby causing more damage than good. However, an emotionally intelligent person will gauge the situation, and respond in a mature way that diffuses the unpleasantness.


Growth and development

Continually moving forward is a key ingredient to overall success in life. If you aren’t growing as a person, you will stay where you are and fall into a rut. Emotionally intelligent people have recognised that career development is not up to anyone else other than themselves. They also know that personal development influences their careers. That’s why people with high EQs continually aim to improve themselves in small ways.


People are creatures of habit. Those who realise this have created positive habits in their lives such as exercise, healthy eating, mind stimulating activities, and organisation strategies. A messy person may argue a predisposition to messiness, but an emotionally intelligent person will try to improve this area of his or her life. Someone who is disorganised or overwhelmed at work, should—for their own sake—recognise it as a negative aspect of their life. From here they can do something such as keep a journal to try and improve on this. This personal growth attitude is what separates successful people from the rest.


A simple case of being happy

Happy people are productive workers. When you have job satisfaction, it enriches your life and creates a snowball effect of success between your personal life and your career. That’s because you’re continually improving yourself, cultivating relationships with the people around you, and retaining a general positive attitude. Emotionally healthy people spread their happiness to others. Your colleagues and your superiors will want to be around you when you’re known as a positive, vibrant, caring person.


The opposite is also true. Negativity can spread like a virus. People who come to work and complain about their personal and work lives are likely to remain stagnant in their careers. They blame external factors and other people for their problems, and struggle to embrace these problems as challenges that can be overcome. The remedy for this negative culture is positive, emotionally intelligent people. They have an uncanny ability to dispel negativity and counter it with a positive attitude—resulting in a generally positive work culture. That’s why workers with a high EQ are more likely to achieve job success, and that’s why managers want these people in their respective companies.


A journey worth taking

The good news is that these points, while they are predispositions in some, can still be cultivated in those for whom they don’t come naturally. This is certainly worth doing, as we’ve seen thus far. Leadership skills, empathy and emotional health can and should be developed for the sake of your career and your personal life. This developmental process is an ongoing journey that takes years for some, and a lifetime for others to achieve.


Now that you know how emotionally intelligent actions directly affect your career success, take the journey to improve on the points you struggle with. The result may surprise you. As your EQ develops and grows, people will begin to see a difference in you. Your superiors will begin to notice you, and your productivity is sure to improve. More than that, however, you will find your life and career more fulfilling—whether in your current job or your next one.