What is Emotional Intelligence at Work?

We’ve all heard of IQ, but what about EQ? Why are recruiters looking for it in job candidates? Here’s what it means to show emotional intelligence at work.

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emotional intelligence at work

Until just recently, aptitude used to be all about the intelligent quotient, more commonly known as IQ. The working assumption until recently was that the higher a person’s IQ, the better they would be able to perform work. Therefore, recruiters would frequently look for traditional intelligence in candidates.
Today recruiters are starting to put a heavier emphasis on EQ, or emotional intelligence. For those new to the term, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, as well as identify and appropriately respond to the emotions of those around them. Those with high EQs tend to be perceptive of body language, remain calm in high-stress situations, and motivate others, which is why emotional intelligence at work is becoming a more sought-after characteristic.
So how does one integrate emotional intelligence at work? Read on to find out why EQ is a top trait that recruiters are looking for in candidates these days.

What is emotional intelligence at work?

Naturally, traditional IQ is still extremely important when considering new job candidates. But considering the social nature of the vast majority of jobs—from internal collaboration, handling tricky customer service disputes, and understanding buyers in order to increase sales—it’s no wonder that emotional intelligence at work can seriously help people succeed in their careers.
The value of emotional intelligence is even more acute when it comes to leadership positions. Your managers and executives are often the ones in charge of leading teams of people. The ability to use emotional intelligence at work means can frequently mean a more charismatic leader, a natural at conflict resolution, and a great collaborator.

Why are recruiters looking for emotional intelligence at work?

Not only are recruiters beginning to look for high EQ in candidates, but Recrutier.com went as far as to declare emotional intelligence at work to be the future of recruiting. While emotional intelligence at work has major benefits for companies of all sizes, EQ goes even farther for small businesses.
Small businesses that rely on a small but loyal customer base or businesses that are just starting out and looking to build a brand of excellence need motivating leaders, customer service representatives who are skilled at managing disgruntled customers, and salespeople who know how to zero in on an individual’s personal motivations in order to survive.
As Fast Company reported, 23% of new employees fail within the first 18 months of being hired because of low emotional intelligence—and any savvy small business owner knows the cost of employee turnover.

How do I find emotionally intelligent job candidates?

Yep, it can be hard to put your finger on what exactly an emotionally intelligent trait is in a job interview, much less traits that point to emotional intelligence at work in particular. However, if you keep an eye out for these traits, they’ll point you in the right direction:

  • Showing perseverance and taking responsibility when discussing failure. If you ask a candidate about a recent failure of theirs and they respond by rattling off a list of excuses that amount to little more than pointing a finger at others, that could perhaps point to a lower EQ. Candidates with high EQ will acknowledge the failure and their role in it without getting discouraged, defensive, or resorting to too much self-deprecation.
  • The ability to not only take constructive criticism, but to benefit from it. It’s never easy to hear about what you’ve done wrong, but emotionally intelligent people are able to separate criticism of their work from criticism of themselves and will be able to listen to it with open ears. Because they don’t get personally offended by criticism, emotionally intelligent candidates will be able to tell you of a time that they received feedback and made changes accordingly in order to improve because of it.
  • They’re champions at conflict resolution. People with high EQ can not only understand other people’s perspectives, but they can work with them in order to arrive at compromises in order to resolve conflict or event mitigate it before it starts. To figure out if a candidate possesses this trait, ask them about their conflict resolution philosophy and an example of how it takes shape at work.
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