What is emotional intelligence? The term was first coined in a 1990 research paper by psychology professors John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey. They used “emotional intelligence” to refer to a collection of emotion-related skills. Later definitions break down emotional intelligence into 5 categories: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and motivation. Individuals who excel in these areas are said to possess a high degree of emotional intelligence while those who struggle must learn to improve.
Study after study shows the impact emotional intelligence has on professional achievement. High levels of emotional intelligence leads to stronger interpersonal relationships, improved leadership abilities, and greater job satisfaction. These people are more likely to embrace cross-cultural experiences, remain with a company longer, and earn promotions and salary increases at their job. A single point increase in the Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) test indicates an $1,300 increase in annual income. In a 2021 study of Spanish workers, high emotional intelligence was a stronger predictor of salary than either age or gender.
As stated before, emotional intelligence is especially important for workers in a position of leadership. Those with high emotional intelligence are 7x as likely to be effective leaders. Part of this statistic has to do with how good leadership is measured. Emotional intelligence is linked to up to 60% of performance metrics for supervisors and executives. Factors like lower employee turnover, higher productivity, and improved guest/customer satisfaction are all partially based on the emotional climate at work. Emotionally intelligent leaders ensure stress is handled in a productive way and interpersonal conflict is either managed or averted.
While these skills are important for leaders in any industry to have, they are most important in client-facing service industries. Think restaurants and hotels, for example. Emotionally intelligent restaurant managers generate 34% higher profits thanks to their increased rates of guest satisfaction and employee retention.
As is the case with conventional intelligence, some people have a natural advantage with their emotional intelligence. Social skills and empathy come naturally to some while remaining a mystery to others. Yet even if you don’t possess an inherent ability to understand others’ feelings, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned by anyone.
Here are 2 important steps to growing your emotional intelligence:
One you grow adept at identifying and managing your emotions, you can help those around you do the same. Two resources that can help teach you these skills are mentorship (find someone older who can show you the ropes) and keeping a journal (write down your feelings every day and watch for any patterns).