San Antonio Express-News
by Dave Beck

When we think of how others perceive us, the tendency is to think about the things we say and whether we appear smart or knowledgeable.

Our perceptions of other people actually are rooted more in emotion than intellect. In fact, there is growing interest in the effect that emotional competencies — such as understanding how to relate to others, to manage emotions and, perhaps most importantly, to remain optimistic and motivated even when a situation becomes stressful — can have on the workplace. Proponents of a term coined the “emotional quotient” contend it is a better predictor of workplace success than the intelligence quotient, or IQ.

One such proponent is Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Mean More Than IQ.” Goleman explores the importance of mastering your emotions in the workplace, making the case that people’s emotional quotient, or “EQ,” is the best barometer of their success.

The emotional quotient measures a person’s emotional intelligence, defined as a cross-section of interrelated emotional and social competencies and skills that determine how well we understand and express ourselves, understand and relate with others, and cope with daily demands.

Sara Canaday, an Austin-based communication and image consultant who earned her MBA at the University of the Incarnate Word, is another proponent of EQ as the leading gauge of a person’s business success.

“Emotional intelligence in the workplace is critical in dealing with co-workers and engaging in high-performance teamwork,” Canaday says. “It is essential for effective leadership and management.”

Canaday notes that those who are successful in the workplace often have high EQs. In fact, just being aware of one’s emotional intelligence can be valuable to workplace performance. She suggests that a person’s EQ is determined by a number of traits, including:

  • Being aware of, understanding, accepting and respecting yourself.
  • Expressing feelings nondestructively.
  • Having the drive to set and to achieve personal goals.
  • Being aware of, understanding and appreciating the feelings of others.
  • Establishing mutually satisfying relationships. Effectively and constructively managing your emotions.
  • Being able to size up a situation accurately, to adjust emotions and thoughts on the spot and to solve problems.

Canaday offers clients a 125-question assessment to help determine emotional intelligence. From this assessment, people not only can determine their EQ, but also can gauge their strengths and weaknesses in various areas that make up emotional intelligence, predict their ability to cope with stressors and start on strategies to address areas for improvement.

As you can imagine, this is helpful information for managers to use in developing work teams. In areas where employees are dealing with customers on a routine basis — customer service and sales immediately come to mind — having an employee with a high EQ engaged with customers is especially valuable. Whether EQ profiling is used in the hiring process or in assessment of current staff, it can give managers a better idea of how each employee or potential employee will perform in certain roles.

Even if employees are not dealing with customers routinely, their adaptability and ability to cope with stress are crucial to any position in any company. People with high EQs not only have the ability to deal with stress and to adapt to change; they also have the interpersonal skills to help others who are not as adept at coping.

Canaday notes that a person’s emotional quotient is not a fixed number that stays with a person forever. She offers tips for people who want to learn about EQ and suspect they could increase their own emotional intelligence:

Take advantage of research. For Web readers, the Internet offers a wealth of information. An excellent follow-up to Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence is his “Working With Emotional Intelligence.” His sequel includes analyses by dozens of experts in Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations worldwide who conclude that emotional intelligence is the gauge of excellence on virtually any job. Real-life examples demonstrate lessons learned from business-world successes and failures.

Be aware of your how others perceive you. So much of what you communicate is through nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, gesture and facial expressions. Your demeanor is likely the initial impression that customers, clients and co-workers have of you when you’re meeting for the first time. Any interaction you have with anyone, regardless of whether it’s the first or 1,000th time, will include others’ assessment of your nonverbal communication.

Commit to improvement. You can improve your emotional intelligence only if you choose to do so and then make the commitment to tackle areas for growth. A consultant can be particularly useful in this process by giving feedback. It takes work, but the improvement to your personal outlook is well worth the effort.

The EQ might not be as well-known as the IQ yet, but the EQ measurement is an undeniably important facet of what makes an employee valuable, what makes a business relationship work and what keeps customers coming back.

Smiling more often might not raise your IQ. But mastering your emotions at work and improving your rapport with colleagues are smart ways to increase your chance for business success. ________________________________________

dbeck@express-news.net; Dave Beck is president, chief business banking officer at Frost Bank.