The One Skill That Likely Isn’t On Your Resume But Should Be

Researchers have identified that emotional intelligence, or the combination of self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management, is a key component of achieving success in a workplace setting.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

No matter what industry you’re in, people are trained to showcase their achievements when trying to impress a new employer. However, the technical skills that secured your first promotion might not guarantee your next. To succeed at work, an entirely different skill set called emotional intelligence is coming to the fore.

It accounts for almost 90% of what sets high performers apart from their equally qualified peers. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you.

The term was first coined by Yale researchers John D Mayer and Peter Salovey in 1990. But it was popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman who highlighted its importance in leadership. “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way,” he told the Harvard Business Review. “They all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.”

Daniel Goleman later divided the necessary skills for high emotional intelligence into four domains. This includes self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management.

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The first two qualities relate to the self, which means being able to understand and manage our own emotions. For example, a self-aware employee might recognize that whenever a meeting runs over, it makes them feel irritable and stressed. If this person is also able to self-regulate, they will remain in control when these negative feelings arise.

They will not behave in a manner that could offend colleagues or damage their reputation. The third and fourth domains of emotional intelligence are social awareness and relationship management. These define how well a worker can perceive their colleagues’ emotions, and use this knowledge to build productive, supportive relationships.

In this instance, empathy is essential. “It’s about knowing what makes people tick,” Amy Bradley, an adjunct Professor of Management and Leadership at Hult International Business School in Massachusetts, told the BBC. She added that this aspect of emotional intelligence allows a person to understand and support people because they can step into their shoes and see things from their perspective.

This doesn’t mean that intelligence and technical skills are irrelevant. They are especially important as entry-level requirements for executive positions. But emotional intelligence (or EQ) provides a range of competencies that encompasses our ability to understand and manage our own and others’ feelings. Workers can then use this knowledge to build positive, productive connections. “Work is fundamentally about the quality of our relationships,” Amy Bradley added.

The good news is emotional intelligence is not an elusive trait. It’s something people can increase throughout their life. To develop EQ, Organization Development Consultant, Leadership Coach, and author of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, Mark Craemer recommends starting with self-awareness. “If you can’t figure out what it is you are thinking, feeling, and wanting at any given moment, it’s tough for you to move on from there,” he explains.

And once a person has a greater understanding of their emotions throughout the workday, managing them becomes easier. In moments of high stress, workers must remember to breathe. Not everything requires an immediate response. Take the time within that situation to manage yourself, thereby developing your emotional intelligence while looking after your own well-being.