Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the «something» in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.
Emotional intelligence can make your career
Decades of research now points to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous result. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.
Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence. On the flip side, just 20 percent of bottom performers are high in emotional intelligence. You can be a top performer without emotional intelligence, but the chances are slim.
Naturally, people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money–an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and earnings is so direct that every point increase in EQ (measured with an emotional intelligence test) adds $1,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, in every region of the world. We haven’t yet been able to find a job in which performance and pay aren’t tied closely to emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence can save your life
When you stuff your feelings, they quickly build into the uncomfortable sensations of tension, stress, and anxiety. Unaddressed emotions strain the mind and body. Your emotional intelligence skills help make stress more manageable by enabling you to spot and tackle tough situations before things escalate.
People who fail to use their emotional intelligence skills are more likely to turn to other, less effective means of managing their mood. They are twice as likely to experience anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and even thoughts of suicide.
Scores of research studies have come forth linking emotional intelligence and susceptibility to disease. Stress, anxiety, and depression suppress the immune system, creating a vulnerability to everything from the common cold to cancer. The potency of your immune system is tied to your emotional state via neuropeptides: complex chemicals that act as messengers between the mind and body. When your mind is flooded with tension or distress, it signals the body to decrease energy directed toward fighting disease. This change increases your vulnerability to an attack.
Research even shows a definitive link between emotional distress and serious forms of illness, such as cancer. One of the first long-term studies measured women’s stress levels over a 24-year period. Researchers tracked the degree to which each woman experienced tension, fear, anxiety, and sleep disturbances–all forms of emotional distress resulting from unresolved conflict and unmanaged emotion. Women who experienced higher levels of stress during this 24-year period were twice as likely to develop breast cancer.
Emotional intelligence skills can also be taught to speed the body’s recovery from disease. People who develop their emotional intelligence skills during treatment recover faster from a variety of ailments, including the two biggest killers in America, heart disease and cancer. Teaching emotional intelligence skills to people with life-threatening illnesses has been shown to reduce the rate of recurrence, shrink recovery times, and lower death rates.
Emotional intelligence has a strong influence on health-related outcomes because it reduces the perception of stress in response to trying situations. Emotional intelligence skills strengthen your brain’s ability to cope with emotional distress. This resilience keeps your immune system strong and protects you from disease.
Bringing it all together
It’s nice to know working on your EQ can have benefits in some of the most important areas of your life. A healthy career and body tick a couple of very important boxes.