By Colleen Nerius | Special to The OBSERVER

Colleen Nerius

(OPINION) – We are all familiar with the term IQ – a test to measure how well one can reason and problem solve. Many of us have taken an IQ test in our life, but other than knowing our score and how it compares to other people’s, it’s not entirely clear whether this quotient alone is the best predictor of success.

A more valuable measure used in the world of Human Resources is “EQ”, or emotional intelligence. It measures our ability to understand, use, and manage our emotions and relationships with people. This measure, when used effectively, helps individuals relieve stress, improve communication with fellow workers and management, and empowers a person to defuse conflict more reliably.

Many of us have worked from home since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020 or have been working in challenging environments with frustrated members of the public. As the world gets back to normal, many of us will go back to the office and will have to navigate different interpersonal environments. Developing and understanding your EQ can equip you for these challenges and position you better overall in life.

Research suggests that those with high emotional intelligence are positioned better for leadership, which can in turn lead to opportunities for a better salary. It is an ability for all levels of workers to be successful.  Case studies done within large corporations also suggest that emotional intelligence can be a major predictor—up to 400% more powerful than IQ—of job success.

Like your IQ, knowing the benchmarks that make up EQ and how it impacts performance, you can actually improve your performance at work, as well as your physical and mental health.

Most experts break down EQ into four areas:

  • Self-management – The ability to control your impulsive feelings and behaviors.
  • Self-awareness – Being able to recognize your own emotions.
  • Social awareness – Recognizing the emotions, needs and concerns of others around you.
  • Relationship management – Developing and maintaining decent work and personal relationships.

Have you ever noticed that person in your workplace or social circle who people are drawn to or are the “go to” person at work? It’s likely they have a high EQ.  According to Kendra Cherry, author of “Utilizing Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace,” it can be a factor in how well workers interact with their colleagues. “Emotional intelligence is widely recognized as a valuable skill that helps improve communication, management, problem-solving, and relationships within the workplace. It is also a skill that researchers believe can be improved with training and practice.” 

Just because you may feel that your current EQ is low doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Training courses and seminars are available online, some at no cost, to help you develop your EQ.

“Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.” Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and one of the authors of Improving Emotional Intelligence. “IQ and EQ exist in tandem and are most effective when they build off one another.”

If you can identify and understand your emotions and feelings, you can learn to better regulate them.

David B. Feldman, Ph.D., who is a professor in the department of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, summarized EQ this way, “Learning to be more emotionally skilled isn’t a panacea. It won’t eliminate all our negative feelings or bring about a constant state of bliss. Such goals are probably impossible. But part of emotional intelligence is realizing that our feelings aren’t our enemies. In fact, if we approach them wisely, they can be some of our best friends.”

The more we can support our employees’ emotional IQ, the more we can improve our workplace environment, improve our relationships, improve employee retention, and as Feldman says, foster camaraderie. Something we could all use a bit more of, post-COVID.

Colleen Nerius is Chief Human Resources Officer at SAFE Credit Union. She can be reached at mediainquiry@safecu.org.