Can Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Be Developed?

September 26th, 2011 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is one’s ability to recognise our own and others emotions, to understand what they are telling us and to realise how our own emotions may affect others. Having a high EQ enables us to have a greater understanding of ourselves and others, allowing us to manage our relationships more effectively. As a result, high EQ is associated with occupational success, resistance to stress and greater resilience and optimism.

Can you improve your Emotional Intelligence?

Our Emotional Intelligence plays an important part in our personality (the 5 main factors of our personality consists of Openness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness) and it is well known that our personality tends to be stable over time due to the strong influence of our genetic makeup. However, whilst genetics play an important role in the development of emotional intelligence, there is also clear evidence that nurture does impact upon nature. For example, there is evidence to suggest that how our genes express themselves, appears to be shaped by our social and emotional experiences. An example of this is that older individuals tend to have higher levels of EQ, which suggests EQ is learned through life experience.

There is also evidence to suggest that the development of EQ can be accelerated with sustained effort and commitment, through a process of practice, feedback and reinforcement.

One well known study conducted at the Weatherhead School of Management, at Case Western Reserve University, allowed students to assess a whole range of their own competencies, including EQ competencies. They were encouraged to select specific competencies which they wanted to develop, by developing their own individual learning plan. Objective assessments of the students were under taken at the beginning of the programme, upon graduating and again years later once working. The assessments showed that those individuals who chose to develop their EQ competencies significantly improved, and these improvements were sustained over time.

What are the main EQ Skills and Behaviours?

The ability to increase one’s levels of EQ may be linked to the fact that EQ is a complex concept, made up of numerous abilities – each of which can be developed in its own right. Below is an in-depth breakdown of the individual skills and behaviours which make up EQ;

Intrapersonal Intelligence Includes:

Self-Regard (Or Self Motivation):
– Achievement drive: Striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence.
– Commitment: Aligning with the goals of the group or organisation.
– Initiative: Readiness to act on opportunities.
– Optimism: Persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks.

– Emotional awareness: Recognising one’s emotions and their effects.
– Accurate self-assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits.
– Self-confidence: Certainty about one’s self-worth and capabilities.

Self-Management (or Self Regulation):
– Self-control: Managing disruptive emotions and impulses.
– Trustworthiness: Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity.
– Conscientiousness: Taking responsibility for personal performance.
– Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change.
– Innovativeness: Being comfortable with and open to novel ideas and new information.

Interpersonal Intelligence Includes:

Regard for Others:
– Belief: A positive belief that people are honest and operate with integrity
– Acceptance: The degree to which you accept others as people, rather than liking or approving what they may do.
– Value: The degree to which you value others as people, rather than judging them.

Awareness of Others (or Social Awareness):
– Empathy: Sensing others’ feelings and perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns.
– Service orientation: Anticipating, recognising, and meeting customers’ needs.
– Developing others: Sensing what others need in order to develop, and bolstering their abilities.
– Leveraging diversity: Cultivating opportunities through diverse people.
– Political awareness: Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships.

Relationship Building (or Social Skills):
– Influence: Wielding effective tactics for persuasion.
– Communication: Sending clear and convincing messages.
– Leadership: Inspiring and guiding groups and people.
– Change catalyst: Initiating or managing change.
– Conflict management: Negotiating and resolving disagreements.
– Building bonds: Nurturing instrumental relationships.
– Collaboration and cooperation: Working with others toward shared goals.
– Team capabilities: Creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals.


Written by: Melissa Tyson and Ruth Sweetman

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