Having a high IQ will only take you so far up the corporate ladder. New research suggests that having high emotional intelligence is equally, if not more, important to your career success.
The study from the staffing firm OfficeTeam revealed that 21 percent of employees believe emotional intelligence is more valuable in the workplace than IQ, with nearly two-thirds saying the two are equally important.
The study's authors define emotional intelligence as a person’s capacity to be aware of, control and effectively express emotions. Emotional quotient (EQ) is the level of someone's emotional intelligence.
"It involves understanding how others feel and using that knowledge to manage how you interact with them," the researchers wrote.
Overall, 99 percent of human resources professionals, 95 percent of managers and 99 percent of employees think it's important for employees to have a high EQ, because it helps them manage their own emotions and understand and react to the emotions of others. [See Related Story: Emotional Intelligence Is Key to Good Leadership]
"The value of emotional intelligence in the workplace shouldn't be underestimated –– it's vital to companies and teams," Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. "When organizations take EQ into consideration when hiring and also helping existing staff improve in this area, the result is more adaptable, collaborative and empathetic employees."
The research found a number of advantages to hiring employees with high EQ. More than 40 percent of the HR managers surveyed said increased motivation and morale is the greatest benefit of having employees with high emotional intelligence, with 21 percent saying it leads to improved leadership. In addition, 19 percent of HR leaders believe high EQ leads to better collaboration and five percent think it results in effective conflict resolution.
To help professionals increase their emotional intelligence, OfficeTeam offered several tips:
1. Increased self-awareness.
Be in touch with your emotions and have a handle on which ones are likely to boil over. "Take charge to manage those emotions before they affect your job performance," the study's authors wrote. "If you're unsure about what might trigger you in different situations, ask for input from people you trust and who know you well."
2. Think first.
Before reacting to anything, it is critical to think about the bigger picture first. "When you feel upset and want to react immediately, remember that doing so can hurt how others view you," the researchers wrote. "By taking the time to think things through, you’re practicing self-regulation."
3. Motivate yourself and others.
Being motivated each day increases the probability that you'll have positive interactions with those around you.
4. Listen carefully.
To understand others, you need to not only listen to what they're saying, but take note of their nonverbal cues. "A big part of emotional intelligence is empathizing with the feelings, wants, needs and viewpoints of those around you," the study's authors wrote. "This includes people at all levels of your team as well as clients of the company."
5. Boost your social skills.
Professionals can increase their EQ by polishing their social abilities, including their listening, verbal, and written communication and conflict resolution skills. They should also work on ignoring distractions and showing genuine interest in those they work with.
"Having strong interpersonal skills can help you build capital throughout your career, whether it's making a positive first impression or creating long-term professional relationships that could open doors to your next opportunity," the researchers wrote.
The study was based on surveys of more than 600 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees, and more than 800 workers who were employed in office environments in the United States and Canada.