High EQ has been positively correlated with things like leadership, job performance, and job satisfaction as well as physical and emotional well-being. So, it is no surprise emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ (Emotional Quotient), is a key trait organizations are looking for in both leaders and team members. That is because our ability to successfully interact with others is largely a function of EQ.

Whether you are a leader or a team member, working remotely or on-site, here are 3 things you need to know about EQ.

1.)  EQ Can Be Developed

Our ability to identify, understand, manage, and use emotions in positive and constructive ways CAN be developed. Research is very clear that EQ is typically fairly stable over time because it is influenced by things such as our childhood experiences and even genetics.

However, stability is different from “rigid.” This means that with focus and dedication, EQ can be improved. Coaching programs, training, mindfulness, and even aging have all been shown to enhance EQ if the individual is open to learning and growing. And, with measurable benefits such as career success, health, happiness, and relationship satisfaction, there is tremendous reward in doing so.

2.)  Self-Awareness is Crucial to Developing EQ

Self-awareness is considered the first pillar of EQ. Without self-awareness, even the most willing to improve will not. So, how do we develop self-awareness, especially as it relates to our emotions?

While there are many avenues and exercises, one of the easiest is to learn to ask ourselves “what is the emotion behind my emotion?” Often, we will think we are self-aware because we can easily identify when we are, for example, angry. The challenge with this is two-fold. First, we often think we are angry because anger is “familiar.” It’s what we know, and the label is easy to slap on a variety of emotions. Second, anger is often the secondary emotion. Anger is not a singular experience, but rather a group of feelings. When we become angry, it is often because we first feel something else: marginalized, hurt, disrespected, vulnerable, or neglected. People with high EQ are able to identify the primary emotion(s) or drivers of what they might easily call anger. Accurately identifying emotions is the key to managing them.

3.)  High EQ Doesn't Mean Never Experiencing or Expressing Negative Emotions

One of the biggest misconceptions my coaching clients and workshop attendees have about EQ is that it means being nice all the time or never being angry or expressing negative emotions. That is not the case at all!

Individuals with high EQ are able to accept ALL their emotions, even those deemed less “socially desirable” such as frustration or anger. They understand that “what we resist… persists.” So, instead of telling themselves “I shouldn’t be upset,” which rarely (actually never) works and often creates more emotional “upset,” individuals with high EQ accept what they are feeling without judgment. They may even tell themselves “I am upset.” By accepting their current emotional state, they are able to manage it more effectively. Part of that “managing” may include expressing their “upset.” And this can be done in a healthy, positive, and constructive way. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that others will respond in a healthy and productive way instead of becoming hostile and defensive.

Stifling, ignoring, or refusing to express negative emotions to others ultimately leads to more anger, frustration, and even explosive confrontation, which is NOT emotionally intelligent. So, the next time you feel a negative emotion, instead of stifling it or exploding outwards to others, accept that emotion. Sit with it for a moment (this is a mindfulness practice). Ask yourself high-quality questions such as: “Why do I feel this way?” “Do I want/need to express it?” “What are the potential costs and benefits of expressing it?”

If you, a team member, or an entire team needs guidance or coaching on how to effectively express negative emotions or any other aspect of developing EQ, reach out. Programs are readily available.