Current Issue
This Month's Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

2 minute read

Emotional Intelligence Predicts Job Success: Do You Have It?

The best salespeople and leaders have a high EQ. Daniel Goleman, the man who coined the term, pulls apart the aspects of emotional intelligence.

[Image: Flickr user Paul Downey]

Let's say you work at a place that's saturated with smarts. If all of your colleagues were always the brightest person in the room growing up, then what makes you stand out? Your emotional intelligence.

Consider cosmetics giant L'Oreal, which has started to factor emotional intelligence in their hiring process for salespeople. Those who were recruited for their high EQ outsold their peers by over $90,000. On top of that, the high-EQ employees had 63% less turnover than the typically selected sales folk. As this and other studies show, emotional intelligence predicts success for people and the companies they work for.

But EQ isn't fixed: it can change over time. As University College London Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic notes on Harvard Business Review, your level of EQ is "firm, but not rigid." While most EQ increases happen with age, you can train yourself to have a higher EQ, by being mindful of your mindfulness, more agile with emotions, or taking the dive into coaching.

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who coined the term emotional intelligence, recently talked to the Huffington Post about the many characteristics of emotional intelligence. Lets go over a few here, so that we can know what to train in.

1. You're curious about new people

Do you ask a lot of questions when you meet someone? Do you actually listen to their answers? Then you might be a highly empathic person, someone attuned to the needs and feeling of others, and you may also mark high on openness to experience—a trait correlated with creativity.

2. You're self-aware

To be emotionally intelligent, Goleman says, you need to have confidence. To have confidence, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Then you work from that framework.

3. You know how to pay attention

As Arianna Huffington told us, you can't make connections if you're distracted. Additionally, the ability to remain focused—and not carried away by texts and tweets—predicts not just the ability to form strong relationships and cultivate self-knowledge, Goleman says, but also your financial success.

"Your ability to concentrate on the work you're doing, and to put off looking at that text or playing that video game until after you're done," he tells the Huffington Post. "How good you are at that in childhood turns out to be a stronger predictor of your financial success in adulthood than either your IQ or the wealth of the family you grew up in."

4. You can say no

If you have high emotional intelligence, Goleman says, you can avoid unhealthy habits and otherwise discipline yourself—which also allows for relationship-nourishing, success-engendering non-distraction.

5. You know precisely what's pissing you off

Folks with a high EQ acknowledge emotions as they come rather than repressing them or misattributing their causes. You could also call this emotional agility.

6. You trust your intuition

There are neuroscientific reasons for trusting your gut: they're markers for what to do next. Part of having a high EQ is learning when to trust them.

The next step? Training. Which will require agility and plenty of sitting.