Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a topic that continues to gain significant prominence in the both academia and the corporate world. There are dozens of books on the subject and hundreds of articles on it. There is a reason I believe that, unlike so many other concepts in the human capital space that have come and fizzled down or out entirely (empowerment, TQM, teambuilding, etc.), EQ has the potential to stay for a while and even grow in acceptance and practice.
So, I won’t talk about what it is and why it’s important – feel free to visit our website to get that. I want to talk about why it’s here to stay and why it’s different from the other concepts – all of which as a matter of record, I have previously espoused and had businesses around.
First, unlike all the other concepts, emotions – and EQ by extension – are the core to the human make up. Physiologically, our DNA is the core of our being and identities. In Maslow’s Hierarchy, our basic needs start with food and water. In the behavioral and skills context, that basic core is composed of our emotions. It is our emotions that ultimately drive our behaviors, use of skills, and social interactions. Whereas all the previous human capital trends have focused on key competencies, and important ones at that, EQ precedes those competencies. Descartes wrote that we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. It seems that we have always known this, but EQ and its related components seem to be the first to conceptualize this notion and make it practical and applicable in our daily lives.
Second, is that in addition to being core and foundational, EQ is also a concept that captures the entirety of who YOU are as an individual – as opposed to who you may be at work or at a certain function or a certain place with certain people. As a result, the impact of improving your EQ can and does easily translate to almost all parts of your life and relationships. For example, we’ve been talking about teamwork for almost two decades now (in a formalized manner) and there seems to be a workplace context to it. The connection between getting along with people you work with and getting along with people in general is not often made and even harder to visualize. EQ is about YOU, the real and whole YOU. And awareness of your emotional state and how it affects your behavior (EQ component – Self-Awareness) is transferable to all dimensions of life.
Finally, I think EQ is here to stay because the older we get, the more we succeed and fail at things in general – the sample size for validating what has worked and not worked has increased a great deal by this point. And eventually we realize what, again, I believe we have known for a while is best quoted by Walt Kelley, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Whereas most of the workplace professional development concepts focus on you WITH others, EQ focuses on you AND others. Having a great relationship with someone else, whoever that person may be (a coworker, a boss, a spouse, etc.) is and should be a by-product of having a good relationship with yourself – and not vice versa.