Sent: 02-09-2010 08:02:07
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Emotional Intelligence -- Why It May Be Important -- Part 1
This a condensed version of an article that will be appearing in the ATC Digest in the near future.
The term Emotional Intelligence is one that has become familiar and has entered the lexicon of many. But what does it actually mean, and is it important?
The term probably first showed up on the radar in 1995 when Daniel Goleman's best seller Emotional intelligence was published. The book caused many to rethink common, existing definitions of intelligence, and as a result, to focus on the more functional aspects of interpersonal and personal strengths commonly used by successful, happy people.
Goleman argues that EQ is a different way of being smart. It includes knowing your feelings and using them to make good decisions; managing your feelings well; motivating yourself with zeal and persistence; maintaining hope in the face of frustration; exhibiting empathy and compassion; interacting smoothly; and managing your relationships effectively.
According to Richard Boyatzis, a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations when he said:
"We find that most of the characteristics that differentiate the outstanding performers are these things that we call social and emotional competencies.".
The workplace is the ideal setting for the promotion of such competencies because work plays a central role in our lives (seeing as we spend something like a third of our waking hours at work). When people realize that social and emotional abilities hold the key to greater career success, they become eager to develop those abilities. At the same time, as employers recognize that their profit depends on the emotional intelligence of their employees, they become amenable to launching programs that will increase it.
This is significant because as Goleman argues, people having EQ exhibit certain common attributes. In essence, the panorama of skills found in the context of emotional intelligence help individuals manage both the self and others in the following areas:
- 1. Impulse control
- 2. Self-esteem
- 3. Self-motivation
- 4. Mood management
- 5. People skills
Consequently, it is now accepted that emotional intelligence (EI) the ability to bring out the best in ourselves and others, is a crucial part of a leader's repertoire.
So what are the practical applications of this in the workplace?
Martin Seligman has developed a construct that he calls "learned optimism". It refers to the causal attributions people make when confronted with failure or setbacks. He notes that optimists tend to make specific, temporary, external causal attributions while pessimists make global, permanent, internal attributions. In research at conducted Met Life (a large US Insurance Company), Seligman and his colleagues found that new salesmen who were optimists sold 37 percent more insurance in their first two years than did pessimists.
Not only that, when the company hired a special group of individuals who scored high on optimism but failed the normal screening, they outsold the pessimists by 21 percent in their first year and 57 percent in the second. They even outsold the average agent by 27 percent.
The ability to manage feelings and handle stress is another aspect of emotional intelligence that has been found to be important for success. A study of store managers in a retail chain found that the ability to handle stress predicted net profits, sales per square foot, sales per employee, and per dollar of inventory investment.
Empathy is a particularly important aspect of emotional intelligence, and researchers have known for years that it contributes to occupational success. Rosenthal and his colleagues at Harvard discovered over two decades ago that people who were best at identifying others' emotions were more successful in their work as well as in their social lives. More recently, a survey of retail sales buyers found that apparel sales reps were valued primarily for their empathy. The buyers reported that they wanted reps who could listen well and really understand what they wanted and what their concerns were.
In his attempt expand the differences Goleman uses the work of Salovey as a foundation who definition of emotional intelligence is categorized into five domains:
1. Knowing one's
4. Recognizing emotions in others
5. Handling relationships
Goleman points out that different people have aspects of each domain to varying degrees, combinations and intensities. People adept in one domain of emotional intelligence might not necessarily excel in another domain.
More next time.
Emotional Intelligence: What it is and Why it Matters:
Cary Cherniss - Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University
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