Why do some people excel effortlessly where others fail despite having the same opportunities and facing equal challenges? Or do we ever wonder why handling adversity seems natural to some but completely alien to others? Research in Emotional Intelligence (EI) — a term coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer—tells us that persons with higher EI are disposed to exerting more control over the occurrences in their lives.

Emotional intelligence, put simply, is the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions while identifying similar emotions in others. Individuals with a high Emotional Intelligence have a better awareness of their feelings and avoid allowing those emotions overly influence their actions. With such control over emotions comes great social skills. Individuals possessing a high EI are adept socially due to their awareness of the other’s feeling and ability to take cue from those emotions. Even though these two skills are often ignored, research approves of them.

In the typical Nigerian workplace, however, a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is overly emphasized while social skills such as EI are more or less relegated to the background.

According to a research conducted by TalentSmart with over a million participants, 90% of the top performers displayed a higher emotional intelligence than others. Consequently, companies are cognizant of the importance of emotional intelligence and shape their employment processes to include EI-based tests. With the inclusion of Personality Tests and its likes, it becomes necessary for Job seekers and employees alike to acquaint themselves with the concept and its application to avoid a career roadblock.

An individual’s success or a lack thereof in an organisation is just as hinged on their emotional intelligence as their efficiency and professionalism. It is not enough to know what to say; knowing when to say it, whom to say it to and how to say it are equally as important.

One area where people often get it wrong is in their speech. Speaking just because you are bestowed with knowledge of the subject without taking the emotions and ego of the other parties involved into consideration could be career damaging. Agreed, you might be popular for factual statements and logical arguments, but when they are to the chagrin of the other parties—especially superiors—they could be detrimental. Just as the saying goes, ‘’no one loves a know-it-all.’’

Additionally, one’s perception at the workplace also influences their growth. Perception, though mental, is created physically. Minute details such as body language when charged with new tasks or confronted with a challenge, taking the glory for team efforts, inflections and so on play a huge role in shaping the right perception in colleagues. Acting on whims and caprices could be an impediment. In spite of the conscious effort to create the right perception, one must err on the side of caution in order to strike a healthy balance between outright complaisance and recalcitrance.

Besides understanding and managing one’s emotions, identifying the emotions of others is equally as important in the workplace. Knowing how people feel and striving to view situations from their vantage points portrays much needed maturity at the workplace. For instance, approaching an issue subtly could help accomplish a task rather than giving an outright command when in the position to, just as praising an errant junior colleague could precipitate visible improvements rather than interminable complaints.

In all, attaining your desired Emotional Intelligence takes time and also requires elaborate reading and practice. And when combined with your advanced skills, it could be all you need to reach the pinnacle of your career.

Lanre Awode, Brands Executive