You Think You Have High EQ? Sure You Do!

Corey Burns Corey Burns, Culture, Employee Coaching, Employee Development, HR, Training and Development

Over the past decade, there has been a meteoric rise in the use of the concept “emotional intelligence” or “EQ” in the workplace, which has led to a wave of unintended narcissism. Just like IQ (Intelligence Quotient), everyone wants to have high-levels of EQ. I get it – who wants to say they are emotionally unintelligent? No one.

I was inspired to write on this recently when working with another leader who has been struggling to coach one of their employees. During the conversation, I kept hearing that this person had low EQ and how that has led to their current issues. After diving deeper into this, I recognized we weren’t talking about EQ at all; it all came down to communication or lack thereof.

In a previous article, I wrote about how improving employee development starts with ourselves and it ties into emotional intelligence without even mentioning it!  

Remember I mentioned the wave of unintended narcissism that followed emotional intelligence? At some point, as EQ increased in popularity, people began to believe that emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and influence others thoughts and emotions. While some of this may be true, it shouldn’t be the primary motivator; the point is to be a better YOU.

During my own growth journey as a leader and the development of my coaching process, I have learned that the most important factor that can increase your emotional intelligence is your own self-awareness.  It’s crucial to understanding your natural behaviors, strengths, blockers, and thought patterns as you develop yourself. As a result of increasing the consciousness of our emotions, we can increase our level of empathy towards others.

Another confusion that needs to be addressed is the use and understanding of EQ (emotional quotient) vs. EI (emotional intelligence). While it is widely accepted to use EQ when speaking of emotional intelligence, I simply steer clear of the use of EQ. I believe that when dealing with highly qualitative factors such as one’s level of emotional awareness, we can’t determine the “quotient” on our gut feelings. I’m using EQ as part of this essay because it’s commonly understood, not because I advocate for the term.

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is used as a measurement of one’s intelligence, but can we truly and accurately measure someone’s emotional intelligence? In most cases, EQ is thrown around by in the workplace as if there is a definitive understanding of the emotional intelligence concept.

As leaders in the people space, it’s important we help inform and educate our teams on the importance of emotional intelligence training and its purpose. Rather than falling into the trap of labeling an individual as being “low EQ” or labeling ourselves as having “high EQ”, let’s focus on educating teams on what emotional intelligence is and how we can effectively use it to benefit ourselves first and others second.