Until recently, many people thought the sole source of success boiled down to their intelligence (IQ). However, research has been emerging since the late 90’s that there is a definitive link between career success and emotional intelligence (EQ). Intelligence is your ability to learn, which remains the same whether you’re 15 or 50 years old. EQ is not a steadfast metric, it’s a flexible set of skills that can be learned and improved with practice. You may be saying to yourself “but my technical skills will speak for themselves – why should I care about this?”
Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, recently helped conduct a survey with staggering results that hold true for employees in all industries, at all levels, in all regions of the world. He found that not only are 90% of top performers high in emotional intelligence, but they average a salary of $29,000 more per year than people with a lower degree of emotional intelligence. The association between EQ and earnings is so explicit that each point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,300 to an annual salary. So what exactly is emotional intelligence, and how can it help you during your career in tech?
Handling Criticism With Grace
Remember that while attention to detail is a good attribute, perfectionism can veer into negative ground. Is your response to criticism to deny the problem, make an excuse, place the blame on someone else or let your anxiety take over? When confronted with criticism, it is important to practice self-awareness. Self-awareness is the key that unlocks our understanding of what makes us happy, bored, angry, etc. People with high emotional intelligence view criticism as something to take note of, then analyze and correct the problem. Take any criticism you receive at face value, tap into your self-awareness, not take it personally, then roll with the punches and move on.
Empathy Is Key
Put yourself in their shoes. Being able to see things from someone else’s point of view is an invaluable attribute that immediately makes you a team player. Sensing other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling makes getting through difficult times smoother. When you understand others, they will want to understand you – and this is how you can start to build cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.
When faced with a trying issue, try using these tips to navigate an empathetic conversation:
- Pay attention, physically and mentally, to what’s happening.
- Listen carefully, and note the keywords and phrases that people use.
- Respond encouragingly to the central message.
- Be flexible – prepare to change direction as the other person’s thoughts and feelings also change.
People with high EQ understand that change is a necessary part of life and are not afraid of it. When presented with a new idea, don’t be quick to dismiss it. Tap into your self-awareness, listen to the situation and react without judgement. Take this opportunity to explore new possibilities by asking questions – you will most likely come to a productive outcome and quickly become a go-to team member.
Everyone has stressful days in and out of the workplace, and it’s natural to have a negative emotional response in these situations. Again, self-awareness is the major factor here. Remember that your emotions not only affect you, but everyone that you work with. There are a myriad of tried and true ways to manage your stress, but I suggest checking out Forbes’ 14 things emotionally intelligent people do in times of high stress.
High EQ will not only give you a leg-up if you are currently job searching, but will also quickly escalate your growth potential. Practicing and improving upon your Emotional Intelligence will serve your relationships both in and out of the workplace, so why not get started now?