What you ought to know about EQ and why your success depends on it

Emotionally intelligent people are gaining more attraction in today's market (Shutterstock.com)

In today's competitive job market, being a smarty is not all it takes to build a successful career...

Pop quiz: How much do you know about emotional intelligence? Do you know how it affects your career? Does IQ or EQ matter more in the office? It’s easy to think duh, you need to be smart to perform optimally, but in the ever-evolving work environment, showcasing your emotional intelligence can pave the way to success too.

For years, the belief has been that “book smarts” in the form of high IQs (one’s ability to think and reason), are the driving force behind a business’ success. As times change, employers are realising that these people with high IQs don’t necessarily produce the best results. In today’s competitive business market, there is a growing need for smart people who are not only skilled in their fields, but can also become well-rounded employees with the ability to fit in with the company culture.

So what is EQ?

Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to monitor your own feelings and understand the impact of the feelings of others. Unlike IQ, it cannot be summed up into a single number. Instead you can measure how emotionally intelligent you are based on the following competencies:

Self-awareness - a knowledge of your current emotional state, strengths and weaknesses as well as your self-worth and capabilities.

Self-management – the ability to manage your internal state and impulses.

Social awareness – knowing how to handle relationships and having an understanding of others’ points of view and decision-making processes

Relationship management – having a skill or adeptness at pushing desirable responses in others.

Read: This is the perfect career for your personality

Emotionally intelligent people are able to work well in situations where relationships or empathy are highly regarded, and as such will often thrive in these careers:


Salespeople consistently try to build long-term relationships with customers that will result in repeat business and customer loyalty. To be successful in their roles, sales people need to have the ability to be genuine with other people and show a true interest in helping them solve their problems.

Psychology or Psychiatry

Professionals in mental health fields need to have strong emotional intelligence on order to be effective in their jobs. They must have empathy for the emotional needs of others, while simultaneously having the ability to not get emotionally caught up in their patients’ turmoil.


Managers in leadership roles or business management need to have the ability to show empathy towards employees, understand individual needs and effectively motivate high performance.

Careers for people with high IQs

Many fields still require an above-average IQ. These include, medicine, academia, engineering, including electrical, mechanical and design engineers, legal occupations, social science, natural science, such as physics, life sciences and math and tech occupations.

Read: How to match your job to yourself

Developing emotional intelligence

While some people may have enviable people skills, some may not be so lucky. If you form part of the latter, not all is lost. Having an awareness of the enthusiasm you have for your job is a great start.

However, a proper way for honing in your emotional intelligence is to determine and understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Once you’re aware of your strengths and what you need to work on, you can allow what you’ve learnt to drive your career. For example, when applying for a new job, highlight your strengths in your CV and during interviews. Try not to make your weaknesses obvious, but make sure you’re aware of them and can address them should they come up in an interview.

While emotional intelligence may not seem to be an important skill, it may be the very skill you need to succeed. Allow time to strengthen your emotional intelligence and you’ll realise that the results you achieve will be worth the effort.