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Kate Hawkesby: We must recognise the importance of emotional intelligence

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 11 December 2018, 9:22a.m.
There is more to being a good colleague than just being competent. (Photo / 123RF)

Pleasing news that finally something I’ve forever believed in looks like it is becoming officially scientifically true.

New research shows emotional intelligence is more important than ability.

The old EQ coming in hot.

Turns out just because someone is competent doesn't make them good to work with. So, Swiss researchers are now developing a test for emotional intelligence. That’s the ability to understand, regulate, recognise and manage emotions.

The Geneva Emotional Competence test aims to give both individuals and organisations a scientifically based description that could help in personal development, in hiring the right candidate for the job, and in giving the person the right job.

It says, “the more emotional intelligence skills you have and the better those skills are, the better your work outcomes are, above and beyond your cognitive intelligence or personality."

How amazing is that? Seems obvious, yet it eludes so many. How many workplaces are full of technically competent people, who seem to be functioning and performing tasks well, but who beyond that, don’t have a clue. It’s what’s separates us from the robots - for now, anyway.

In further good news, this ability to regulate our emotions is apparently linked to earning a slightly higher salary, ‘a higher degree of empathy, openness to others, respect for moral rules and, in overall terms, a positive temperament’. So your EQ can actually serve you well all the way to your wallet. Who knew?

There is an age old adage that skills can be taught, attitude cannot.

But when it comes to EQ, that too is teachable apparently. It's something that can mature and improve with age as well. Which makes sense given as we get older and the rigours life throws at us start to chip away, we develop more empathy (unless you’re a psychopath, of course.)

Not surprisingly, women are typically better at it than men, especially when it comes to interpreting non-verbal cues. What woman doesn’t have “the look” she gives her kids or partner which tells a thousand words. Likewise women are better at reading faces.  

Teaching our kids to show and learn empathy, to read a room or a situation carefully and to tune in, is invaluable I think. You can always spot the kids high on the EQ meter, they make good eye contact, they express themselves well, they’re engaged and show compassion. 

So it doesn’t surprise me that this is something people want to see more of in the workplace.

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