Emotional intelligence refers to some form of social intelligence involving one’s ability to monitor the feelings and emotions of oneself as well as those of others, in order to distinguish among them and use the information as a guide to one’s way of thinking and actions. According to Davies et al (1998), there is nothing really new as far as the idea of emotional intelligence is concerned. This was arrived at after reviewing existing measures that purport to gauge emotional intelligence.
It has been found that professionals rising to peak of their careers do not achieve only by virtue of being good at their respective jobs. These peak performers have been found to be optimistic, resilient and affable. This is the case in all careers including banking, engineering, medicine, law and psychology.
This paper investigates the relationship between an individual’s emotional intelligence with emotional competencies. It examines how important emotional intelligence is in one’s endeavor to succeed in his and her career as well as social life.
Does emotional intelligence really matter in one’s quest to acquire emotional competencies necessary for success in his or her career and social life?
Saloney and Meyer (1990) undertook a research aimed at exploring the significance of emotional intelligence and developing its valid measures. In one of their studies, they showed an upsetting film to a number of people. They found that those showed high levels of emotional clarity recovered more quickly.
In another study, they found that people who showed a high ability to understand, perceive accurately, and appraise other people’s emotions were in a better position to create supportive social networks and respond flexibly to any alteration in their social environment (Goleman, 1998).
IQ has been proved not to be a good job performance predictor. According to Hunter and Hunter (1984) IQ only accounts for only 25 per cent of this variance. Sternberg (1996) further found that these studies greatly vary and that a ten per cent estimate is more realistic. In a number of studies, the IQ is responsible for only four per cent of this variance.
It is worth noting that there is a relationship between cognitive abilities and non-cognitive ones. Studies have shown that social and emotional skills help in improving cognitive functioning.
For instance, a study was carried out at Stanford University, where kids aged four years were required to stay alone in some room with a marshmallow and await the researcher’s return. They were promised two marshmallows if they could restrain them selves from eating the marshmallow until the researcher’s return.
Ten years down the line, the kids were tracked down by the researchers. They discovered that the kids who resisted the temptation to eat the marshmallow had attained an SAT score of 210 points more than those were not able to wait.
Cognitive ability has been found to play little or no role in some people succeeding more than others. Social and emotional factors have been identified as very important in determining success level among individuals.
Emotional intelligence and work
Different people make different causal attributions when setbacks or failure confronts them. Optimists usually make temporary, external and specific causal attributions. On the other hand, pessimists make internal, permanent, and global attributions. A research by Seligman at Met Life and others discovered that optimistic insurance salesmen sold 37 per cent more covers than their pessimist counterparts.
When this company engaged individuals with high optimism without necessarily having met the desired qualifications, it sold more than the pessimists by 21 per cent during the first year. In the second year, they outdid these pessimists by a massive 57 per cent. This special group even went ahead to outdo the sales of an average agent by about 27 per cent.
One’s ability to handle stress and manage feelings has been identified as another emotional intelligence aspect that greatly contributes to the individual’s success. A study carried out among store managers in the retail chain industry discovered the employees’ ability to tackle stress led to higher sales per employee and per square foot and higher net profits. It also resulted in higher sales for a given amount of investment in the stores.
Emotional intelligence is concerned with knowing how and when to control and express emotions. For example, a research was carried out by Sigdal Barsade (1998) at Yale University. Barsade got some volunteers to act as managers coming together to allocate some additional benefits to their subordinate. A trained actor was also among these managers.
The trained actor was made to speak first before all the others. In certain groups, the actor was asked to project cheerful enthusiasm. In other groups, the actor was made to act relaxed.
In yet other groups, the actor was made to act sluggish and depressed. In the last group, the actor was asked to act hostile and irritable. According to the findings of this study, the group was affected by the actor’s good feelings and emotions. This led to better cooperation, performance and fairness in the group.
Empathy has been found to be a very essential facet of emotional intelligence and greatly contributes to the success of any occupation. According to Rosenthal et al (1997), individuals who are good at identifying other people’s emotions are more likely to succeed in their social lives as well as their work.
Another more recent survey among retail sales buyers discovered that apparel sales representatives were valued mainly because of their empathy. The buyers were found to prefer representatives who were good listeners and really understood their needs and concerns.
On the other hand, it has been argued that emotional intelligence does not strongly predict job performance (Goleman, 1998; Mayer et al, 1998). It instead provides the foundation for these competencies. Goleman (1998) further tried representing the idea by distinguishing between emotional competence and emotional intelligence. Emotional competences are the social and personal skills leading to superior performance in the workplace.
Emotional competencies are closely connected and founded on emotional intelligence. It is however necessary to have some level of emotional intelligence in order to learn the necessary emotional competencies. For example, one’s ability to accurately recognize the feeling of another person enables him or her to develop specific competencies like influence. Similarly, individuals with an ability to control their emotions find it much easier to develop competencies such as achievement drive or initiative.
In a number of ways, there is really nothing new about emotional intelligence. It has its basis in the history of theory and research in personality and social psychology. Many psychologists have carried out studies about emotional intelligence over the years. The findings of these studies have tended to indicate that emotional intelligence abilities are very important if one is to succeed in numerous areas of life.
It is worth noting that emotional intelligence is very important for performance at work. Considerable research findings suggest that one’s ability to identify, perceive and manage emotions is very important for success in any kind of job.
Moreover, as the speed of change increases, and work places great demands on one’s cognitive, physical and emotional resources, emotional intelligence abilities will become very important. This seems to magnify the role of psychologists since they are in the best position to utilize emotional intelligence in improving both the psychological well-being and productivity in tomorrow’s workplace.
Cheerful groups were found to have a better and fair distribution of money, which is known to contribute positively to the organization. A similar study found that effective leaders are more sociable, dramatic, emotionally expressive and outgoing.
It is essential that one develops emotional intelligence in order to emotional competencies necessary for success in ones career and social life. This paper has clearly shown that indeed emotional intelligence greatly matters in one’s quest to acquire emotional competencies necessary for success in his or her career and social life.
Barsade, S (1998) The ripple effect, Yale University School of Management, New Haven
Davies, M et al (1998) Emotional intelligence, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Goleman, D (1998) Working with emotional intelligence, Bantam, New York
Hunter, J and Hunter, R (1984) Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance, Psychological Bulletin
Mayer, J et al (1998) Competing models of emotional intelligence, Cambridge University Press
Sternberg, R (1996) Successful intelligence, Simon and Schuster, New York
Thorndike, R and Stein, S (1937) An evaluation of the attempts to measure social intelligence, Psychological Bulletin