We’ve all had bosses at different stages of our careers who weren’t very good at leading people. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the skills or knowledge to excel in their roles. They also weren’t stupid; their IQ scores were off the charts. Yet, there was always something about their leadership style that didn’t resonate with everyone in the room. Some employees said it was their authoritarian approach, and others insisted they were too transactional. What it really came down to was their emotional intelligence — or lack thereof.

Emotional intelligence is one of the most sought-after interpersonal skills in business and in life. In fact, Forbes says emotional intelligence (or EQ) accounts for 90% of what sets high performers apart from peers with similar technical skills and knowledge.

But what is emotional intelligence, exactly? Furthermore, how does it relate to communication, and is this something we can learn?

Intellectual Competencies Only Get You So Far …

Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is defined as the ability to perceive, interpret, demonstrate, control, evaluate, and use emotions to communicate with and relate to others effectively and constructively. People with high emotional intelligence do better at building and maintaining relationships personally and professionally. In the business world, they’re also able to successfully coach teams, manage stress, deliver feedback, empower others to think for themselves, and spur innovation and collaboration.

We use emotional intelligence to guide us so that we can:

  • Recognize how we feel and how others do, too
  • Foster a democratic and more inclusive leadership style
  • Understand how emotions impact whatever situation we’re in
  • Be more engaged and comfortable socially
  • Show more empathy and compassion
  • Avoid having feelings or emotions highjack the decision-making process
  • We can manage the impact of our emotions on our relationships

The term was first coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer and later popularized by renowned psychologist and behavioral science journalist Dr. Daniel Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence. But the idea has been around since the 1940s. Even then, we quickly realized that intellectual competencies could only take you so far and needed to be combined with a steady diet of social competencies.

All of this sounded great in theory, but what helped the idea of emotional intelligence take off was when the U.S. Air Force began using psychologist Reuven Bar-on’s Bar-On EQ-i™ method to measure the emotional intelligence of their recruiters. They found that the recruiters with higher levels of emotional intelligence consistently brought in the best recruits. Not only that, but it equated to a $3 million savings. Since then, more studies have taken place that acknowledge that organizations with higher levels of EQ are ultimately more productive and have lower turnover rates.

In a heartbeat, emotional intelligence went from sounding good to making a real difference.

How Does EQ Relate to Communication?

Emotional intelligence is a theory that stresses both perception and expression. Those who are really good at it perceive the emotional states of others and quickly adapt to them. They also have a better handle on themselves and their own emotions.

  • Do they make appropriate eye contact?
  • What do their gestures look like?
  • How are they expressing emotions?
  • How do they express themselves verbally?
  • Are they being their authentic selves?

Can this be learned? Absolutely. In fact, research suggests that we naturally become better at assessing emotions as we age. So why not expedite the process and learn more about improving your emotional intelligence now?

The Business World Demands More Emotional Intelligence and Effective Communication

Whether you are an organizational leader or an employee working your way up the corporate ladder, business success depends on having high emotional intelligence and delivering the right message in the right manner at all times. And we’re going to continue this conversation on emotional intelligence with a deeper dive in the coming weeks. The good news is that this can be learned with some practice. TalkMeUp is an innovative, one-of-a-kind software that profoundly addresses these needs and related shortcomings by leveraging AI for instant measurement, analysis, reporting, tracking, scaling, and more.

Click here to request our white paper and learn more about how TalkMeUp can benefit your organization and employees.

About the Author
Ron Placone, Ph.D., is an Associate Teaching Professor of Business Management Communication and the Former Faculty Lead and Interim Executive Director for the Accelerate Leadership Center at the Tepper School of Business. Ron teaches a range of communication courses and leadership programs for Tepper students. Ron’s research interests include civility in discourse and fostering individual and team creativity. Previously at Carnegie Mellon, Ron was the Assistant Vice President for Learning & Development. Before joining Carnegie Mellon in 1999, Ron was Vice President and Director of Organizational Development and Communications for Mellon Network Services. Ron has been a consultant, leadership, and communication coach for numerous executives and corporate and not-for-profit organizations. He has consulted in health care, financial services, education, technology, and energy sectors. Ron has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric-English from Carnegie Mellon University.