How EQ will Help your Career

by | Career Growth, Emotional Intelligence

Show of hands. How many of you have heard of EQ before? 

If you’ve never heard of EQ or emotional intelligence, here is the quick run down. 

This is a widely discussed and proven leadership concept that talks about emotional management skills the same way we talk about someone’s intelligence. Those with a high IQ are adept critical thinkers, problem solvers, and so forth. Whereas those with high EQ are adept leaders, influencers, team builders and project managers. The key difference is that you can make significant improvements in your EQ over time and become far more emotionally intelligent. 

This was true in my case. Back in 2013, I had never even heard the term emotional intelligence before. This was back when I was feeling stuck in my career and not understanding why I couldn’t move ahead. This was when my boss told me I could never be a manager. This was when someone gave me some anonymous feedback in a 360 evaluation that said I was a great worker, but they didn’t like working with me because I made them feel stupid. 

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’?  Well, emotional intelligence was my blind spot. Once I sought leadership help, I was recommended the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and that was the game changer of my career. 

Here are the things I learned that directly impacted my ability to advance in my career and how improving your EQ can help you advance as well. 

1. Self-Awareness

I had been so sure that the reason I wasn’t advancing was because of someone else holding me back, or misunderstanding me, or not appreciating me. As I learned about EQ and the self-awareness principle it helped me start looking inward to really be honest with myself – maybe I am actually part of the problem. I mean I was the common denominator. 

No matter what position, department, or company I worked in I would get to a point where I felt stuck. To improve my self-awareness I had to start asking for a lot of specific feedback from others. How was I making them feel stupid? What exactly was bothering them about me and how could I change it? 

For example, not holding eye contact was a big one I learned gave people a negative impression of me. To help make sure I was aware of this during conversations, I would turn my whole body towards the other person, not look at my phone or computer while they were talking, and even put a small mirror on my desk to help make sure my facial expressions were in check.  This may seem silly, it did at first to me too.  But, I noticed a difference in the conversations I was having with people on my team so I could tell it was working.

2. Self-Management. 

Next, I needed to truly learn to be receptive to feedback.T his is something I have seen people struggle with a lot as a manager. Feedback is simply that person’s perception of you or how you handled the situation. If you hear the feedback and immediately try to argue against it, deny it, justify it, then you are not being receptive and not self-managing properly. 

I am certainly not saying to worry about everyone’s opinion of you. You do need to listen and then assess on your own which parts of the feedback you will apply. If the person is credible and the feedback is genuine then take steps to implement and improve on it.  

This tends to be most difficult because it requires a behavior or habit change. A conscious effort on your part. For example, communication skills. I am a naturally impatient person, and that used to come across in my tone and body language quite often. 

Therefore, I had to get into the habit of prepping myself before meetings that I knew might make me impatient. Get a good night’s sleep, drink lots of water, have snacks on hand, and set proper expectations going into a meeting. 

That way I could make sure I wasn’t demonstrating anything that made me look bored, impatient, distracted, etc.  I was managing my own perception before it even happened! 

Finding ways to practice and improve my communication skills outside of work actually helped me improve much faster.  See this blog to learn more about communication at work.

3. Social Awareness. 

Building rapport and working on my interpersonal savvy with others was instrumental to improving my EQ. I have a bad memory, so I would jot down little notes about my teammates so that I could remember things that were important to them. 

Naturally, over time, people more easily opened up to me and those relationships became so valuable. 

For one, having positive and supportive relationships with your co-workers just helps you get through the day. We spend 40+ hours a week with these people. I also found that the better I was, the more people would help advocate for me. If I wanted to implement a change, or make a decision about something I wouldn’t get as much push back AND people would want to help make it happen.  

The most surprising benefit of social awareness I found was that it actually helped me figure out how I could add more value in my position which equated to pay increases and promotions. Here is a perfect example.

4. Relationship management. 

Even if you don’t have any direct reports, managing relationships with other people is an absolute necessity in your career. I can’t think of a single person that does a job without needing to work with other people. Whether they are clients, vendors, or co-workers, you have to be able to solve problems, influence decision making, and drive for results together. 

In order to improve your relationship management, you have to first improve on the other three principles: self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness.  

People will see that you are putting forth the effort. Their perception of you will begin to change and more opportunities will be given to you. 

In fact, I got a $5/hour raise as Director of Operations one year simply for how I demonstrated my ability to deal with difficult sales managers and partners in order to meet the company OKRs. 

These were challenges others struggled with before but I had proven I could still get results, without the drama, and make sure we could move forward. 

I love EQ so much that I could talk about this for hours.  

For now, I hope these examples of how improving my EQ helped me advance, that you see the benefit in doing the same. This isn’t a skill you have to be born with.  As you can see, I had no idea that it was hurting me professionally. 

Once I started implementing the EQ practices, I saw an immediate and direct change in my career opportunities – I was getting more of them!  I also recognized that my improvement in communication skills and interpersonal savvy translated well into my personal relationships.  

Did this resonate with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know if you think EQ could be a blind spot for you too. 

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I’m Jovita

I started this business because I am so passionate about developing others and helping them grow beyond where they could have on their own.

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