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Are You (Emotionally) Intelligent?

What is intelligence? For a lot of people the first thing that comes to mind is IQ, or a measure of IQ. Now whether you agree with this association or not, it’s the association we’re stuck with. But it’s hardly the original… The original definition of intelligence, as proposed by Darwin, is not super focused on whether you can pass 6 different ways of measuring pattern discrimination (I suck at that one), or numerical literacy (I’m very good at that one!). The original definition focuses on adaptability. Given that Darwin proposed “survival of the fittest”, adaptability as a concept is not surprising. It means the ability to conform to your ever changing environment, as such ensuring survival, meaning you could pass on your genetics to the next generation. Which was essentially judged to be the meaning of life, or at least the purpose of a species, both back then and to a large extent now. So really intelligence has very little to do with pattern discrimination (phew!)


Why am I diving back into IQ or intelligence? Well, I’ve seen, and have heard, quite a few articles lately about different “Q’s”. I’m talking EQ (emotional), SQ (social), AQ (adaptability) and CQ (cultural). Now all these Q’s are just different ways of measuring or defining a different form of intelligence, where the focus is not on how quickly you can add numbers together, but how easy it is for you to help someone understand/overcome their emotions, read a room, function in social groups, change your way of thinking in new and unexplored circumstances and be able to function within different cultural groups and hierarchies. Now I know that’s a lot to unpack, so I’m going to try and focus specifically on how these different intelligences would work in a business setting, as that is where they are often studied. And for today’s “episode”, we’re discussing EQ: emotional intelligence!


What is emotional intelligence? Glad you asked. EQ is defined as “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.” Within this definition the focus is on your own emotions, but empathy: understanding other’s emotions, is also an important part of EQ. Now what would this look like in the workplace? Well, according to quite a few articles the workplace would almost by default have to be more female. Because I can’t hyperlink them all, I’ll just leave the articles underneath this post. Whether the future is female or not, this skill (it is a damn skill) which has been hammered home to women all over the world has finally gotten the limelight. EQ is judged to be quite important for having a good functioning team, less people quitting as a result of bad dynamics and stress and good output at work. Nothing to sneeze at! When it comes to EQ, there’s a lot to unpack. Conceptualized by psychologists like Michael Beldoch and later popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, EQ includes some key competencies which then have further subheads (no joke), such as:

  • self-awareness, which includes emotional awareness, self-assessment & self-confidence;

  • self-regulation which includes self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability & innovativeness;

  • self-motivation which includes drive, commitment, initiative & optimism;

  • social awareness which includes empathy, service orientation, developing others, leveraging diversity, and political awareness;

  • and social skills which include influence, communication, leadership, change management, conflict management and cooperation.

I told you there was a lot there… Now I struggle with differentiating EQ and SQ (social) as is. So I will only focus on the individual’s emotional management in this article and leave the rest to the article on SQ.


Emotions and the workplace, not necessarily the best fit, depending on how toxically masculine the person is you’re asking. Don’t even bother displaying tears, it won’t get you anywhere good. This type of environment is often referred to as the “men’s world” in which everyone is an emotionless robot. Until they quit their job because they hate it or have a burn out. Numbers which are a lot higher for teams which have managers who are poor with EQ, or any type of emotional regulation. So how do you avoid that yourself, without the interference of a manager (that’s SQ)? Well, that requires some actual emotional intelligence on your part!


Not all days at work are good. And when I say at work, I mean wherever you might be working from, even if that’s home. The company culture can easily transfer over Zoom, and it’s not always great. If you constantly suffer imposter syndrome, you might really want to get into why you’re feeling that way. Chats with friends can help, as can therapy. Work should not be making you feel down all the time. In addition, a lot of people have struggled with finding motivation to “get to work” in the sense that they do not find the motivation to roll out of bed now that no one is watching them like a hawk in the actual workplace. Find out which schedule works for you (if you can), or build an entire new set of habits around your work to make you feel more at ease with the “new normal.” It takes a while for habits to kick in, but a basic reward-punishment system a la Skinner should get you started! Also, to get back to the “no tears at the workplace” dilemma. It’s very likely that emotions and tension get high in the workplace (or just during work). Tight deadlines, stress, miscommunications and having a life next to it, is a lot of anyone to take on. Let alone if it’s multiple people who have to work in a team. It’s important to remember that you are more than you work, and what happens at work is not a reflection of you as a whole. Having a high EQ, which you can train and work on, just seems to mean that you can keep perspective and not be overwhelmed by the emotions as they are in the moment. It gives a sort of balance, and sometimes even peace of mind. Which is something I think we can all use.


It also has to be mentioned that to me, and other very famous psychologists decades before me, there seems to be a lot of overlap between EQ (all of the Qs to be honest) and some personality models, such as the Big Five. For EQ especially seems to correlate really high with neuroticism (negative) and extraversion (positive). And that’s not really surprising, as neuroticism is highly linked to feelings of anxiety and the disorder itself. So if you know you’re a highly neurotic person, make sure you have one hell of a support system in place! Don't worry if your EQ isn't super high, down in the links below there are some articles on how to improve your EQ. And cheer up, there's several more articles to come on AQ, CQ and SQ!


Links: Improving EQ: EQ vs. personality: EQ in the workplace: Workplace, Women and EQ: EQ, Leadership and Women: Female Leadership and EQ: EQ in Business:

Behavioural Science

Personal Finance



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