The Importance of EQ

Jenni Bowman, The Passionate PA for Bournemouth and Christchurch, takes a deeper look at the importance of EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence) in today’s workplace.  

Surely it doesn’t matter in today’s digital age how we deal with our colleagues, our team, our clients or our contacts? After all, we very rarely need to have face to face conversations these days. We are far too busy for ‘chit chat’… we deliver a message as quickly as we can, and we move on, right? We text, we email, we WhatsApp, we Slack, we Messenger, we Snapchat.  Jeez, even if we want to date these days, we don’t meet them or call them, we “slide into their DMs” (or so my 16-year-old tells me!).

So, what exactly is EQ, why do we need it? How can we improve it and how does nurturing your own EQ help you becoming a more successful, respected and trusted person to work with?  

EQ is divided into 5 separate attributes:

Self-Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including your strengths, your weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations and emotions. Self-Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

Self-Regulation is the ability to act in your long-term best interest, consistent with your deepest values. Emotionally, self-regulation is the ability to calm yourself down when you’re upset and cheer yourself up when you’re down.

Motivation includes our personal drive to improve and achieve, commitment to our goals, initiative, or readiness to act on opportunities, and optimism and resilience.

Empathy is the ability to feel what the other person is feeling. It is to experience their emotions. It is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes in a big and meaningful way.

Social Skills are considered the final piece of the EQ jigsaw.  The ability to take all of the above and use this to influence how you act and how others respond.  Communication, change management, leadership and conflict resolution.

Now we know what EQ is (and if after reading the above you are not thinking about your own EQ, I’ll give you a clue – you need to!), how do we begin to improve it?

1. Use the pause button.  Ever read an email from a client/team member/boss/employee and then sat and bashed out a response with smoke coming out of your ears and off your keyboard?  Don’t! Sure, draft it, it will make you feel better (you might need a new keyboard after though!), but then keep it in drafts and go back to it. Leave it a couple of hours, re-read it and the likelihood is you will re-phrase that email. Think about your end goal and try hard to understand the context of how the sender came to create such an email.

2. Ask others to help you reflect.  Ask trusted friends, family or colleagues how they would react in a certain situation. Gather that information like a market researcher, with no emotion or bias. Use that catalogue of reactions to help you decipher how you would like to be treated and try and adopt that the next time you are in a tricky situation.

3. When criticised, try not to take offence.  Tough one, right?  However, self-reflection and really thinking about a criticism directed at you really does help you to grow. Maybe they have a point, even if poorly delivered? Remember, criticism is also called feedback, and if used correctly, it really is an opportunity to improve your EQ and develop as a person.

4. Talk about how you feel. Here at The Passionate PA, we are great at expressing our emotions because it helps others understand and trust us. Don’t suppress yours – open up if you can. Most people will have true respect for someone who can be honest about their thoughts and feelings, and explain how they have arisen. It really does help to garner lasting connections and deep and meaningful working relationships.

5. Look after your physical health in order to fully develop your emotional health. Getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking water and doing some exercise sounds like such basic advice. You hear it from your GP and it’s all over social media. However, basic self-care will really help you to function at your best both emotionally and physically. If you are feeling great then you are far more likely to react positively to situations than you would if you were tired, hungry, dehydrated and in poor health.  Self-care is vital to be an effective leader.

In summary, most effective leaders are on a journey to a higher EQ. It’s a constant learning curve. In my last 15 months as a Passionate PA, I’ll be honest, my learning curve has been STEEP! One of my biggest concerns as a business owner is that I am not putting enough into technically upskilling in order to progress my career. However, I found a vital piece of research when writing this article:

The Carnegie Institute of Technology carried out research that showed that 85% of our financial success was due to skills in ‘human engineering’, personality and the ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. They found that only 15% was due to technical ability. In other words, people skills or skills highly related to emotional intelligence were crucial skills.

Furthermore, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if that that person is offering a better product at a lower price!


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