LIFE LINES: The importance of EQ vs IQ


Victoria Sarne

By Victoria Sarne

Growing up, most of us were taught that it is our IQ (intelligence quotient) which will define us and play the major role in determining whether we will be successful in life, both personally or professionally.

But it turns out that isn’t true, as studies now show our EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) to be the more important key to a satisfying and successful life in every aspect: home, work, relationships and our other endeavours.

Naturally, IQ is important and is assessed by a series of standardised tests measuring human intelligence. We have to use our intelligence to reason and to safely navigate daily life and its many challenges. But whilst that may be the ability that gets us a great job, it won’t necessarily be what makes us successful.

Current thinking, as quoted by Daniel Goleman in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ”, says: “CEO’s are hired for their intellect and business expertise – and fired for a lack of emotional intelligence.”

It is also noted that EQ counts for 58 percent of performance in a job which in turn has been proved to generate higher income and the single biggest predictor of success in the workplace. That’s quite a statement to ponder but it makes sense.

EQ is how well we understand ourselves, how we relate to others, our reactions to any given situation and the management of our emotions. It is this self-knowledge which has the biggest impact on our lives and our careers and ultimately determines our success on many fronts. Mastering our emotions is essential at the most basic level to interact lawfully and peaceably within society and, at the next level, predicts our success within personal relationships and professional success.

Caroline Dowd-Higgins, a career consultant, goes by Goleman’s definitions of strong EQ which should to be identified by the following seven characteristics which are basically self-descriptive. They are:

  1. Getting along well and having an interest in others (being an attentive listener and sincerely curious about others).

  2. Self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses (unafraid of and able to learn from negative criticism; self-confidence).

  3. Operating with integrity (being trustworthy and conscientious whether visible or not).

  4. Self-Awareness of feelings (being able to objectively analyse the reasons for a particular emotion).

  5. Present-focused (able to move on from a mistake and focus on a solution in the moment).

  6. Self-motivated (confidence and a drive to achieve goals).

  7. Well-placed boundaries (understanding time and energy for a task or in a relationship and the ability to say “no”).

These seven categories are useful to paint a broad-brush picture to direct our focus. They help develop self-awareness so that we can recognise there are also many essential nuances contained within them. They show us whether we need to work on improving aspects of our way of being in the world: are we genuinely loving, are we kind, are we compassionate, empathetic and tolerant of those who may be different from us? Do we accept that ours isn’t the only possible point of view and are we open enough to listen, discuss and learn about possible alternative ways of conducting our lives?

Our emotional intelligence defines our level of maturity, who we are and how we function as human beings, both within our family units and in our communities. It will also determine how we deal with stressful situations or challenges, which are an unavoidable part of life experiences. Our attitudes are reflected in our behaviour and impact everyone we come in contact with. Let’s make sure we can make a sincere and authentic impression because in turn that becomes a validation for our own healthy sense of well-being.

• Victoria Sarne is an entrepreneur and writer. She headed a team to establish a shelter for abused women and children in Canada and was its first chairwoman. You can reach her at victoria.conversations@gmail.com, or visit www.lifelineswritingservice.com.


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