Companies are looking for people with more than job performance skills and abilities. They want workers who have something extra -- a high degree of emotional intelligence, sometimes called EQ.
Employers are tailoring their interviews to predict how well an applicant will get along with co-workers, deal with job stress and practice self-discipline. They even want to know if you have a sense of humor. All are considered part of EQ.
According to Adele B. Lynn’s book “The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with High Emotional Intelligence,” anywhere from 24% to 69% of an employee's workplace performance is due to emotional intelligence.
Having emotional intelligence means you are aware of your moods and feelings and can manage your emotions to overcome challenges and conflicts in a positive way.
There are five building blocks to emotional intelligence, according to University of Notre Dame instructor Dr. J. Michael Crant:
Emotional intelligence can lead to better workplace performance, giving you knowledge of how to navigate sometimes complicated workplace relationships. A high dose of emotional intelligence also makes for better physical and mental health, and improves communication skills that lead to stronger relationships with co-workers.
A first step in self-awareness is learning to recognize your stress signals. These signals might be as simple as changes in breathing or clinching your fist. Next you need to develop mechanisms to control the stress. These can vary according to personality.
Someone prone to anger needs to seek ways to become calm, possibly listening to the sound of wind chimes or gazing at a serene painting. A person more likely to become depressed should look for stimulation. Those who might freeze at signs of stress need a combination of stimulation and activities that bring comfort.
Humor also is vital in maintaining health and creating good relationships. A sense of humor can be a tool in dealing with conflict. At other times, conflicts can be defused through forgiveness or by walking away from an argument.
Emotional awareness is a goal that allows you to better understand your motivations and those of others. Even non-verbal clues can be helpful. It requires focusing on the other person, making eye contact and listening to how a person says something, not just what is said.
Increasingly, employers believe that employees with emotional intelligence are more productive, better able to acknowledge and learn from mistakes, and can function as team players.
When it comes to job interviews, employers search for signs of emotional intelligence, especially for positions with management level responsibilities. Interview techniques include testing applicants with hypothetical questions or starting with casual conversation before posing a complex question.
Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be developed and learned.
Online management courses such as those offered by University of Notre Dame cover topics that can increase emotional intelligence and enable you to handle real-world management challenges while allowing you to earn management and leadership certification for your personal and professional development.