When humans shook hands on the first deal, Emotional Intelligence was involved. Mutual trust was essential. Therefore, there needed to be a basis for a belief that your business partner would not, sometimes quite literally, knife you in the back. So, what is this ability? How do we measure it, and can we then attain it? Let us see.
Commerce in the modern world appears to be clinical and streamlined, with logical checks and balances in place. Yet at its root there are humans, and every business deal involves a human desire to attain something. This means that understanding emotions, and being able to control emotions, are skills that lead to a definite advantage in any commercial venture.
These skills fall under the umbrella of what is called Emotional Intelligence. Put in an informal way, it is the ability to understand the feelings and personalities of others and oneself, and use this knowledge to advantage. The word “natural” could be used before the word “ability” in the previous sentence because some researchers believe that this ability is innate while others believe it can be learned.
Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence
Per Reuven Bar-On, in The Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence (2006), there are traits that identify the socially competent:
- They understand and recognise feelings and emotions, and express these themselves.
- They manage and control their own emotions.
- They show empathy.
- They manage change, and solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature.
- They are self-motivated and maintain a positive outlook.
Testing for Emotional Intelligence
Bar-On devised a test that he calls the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-I). Unlike an IQ test, there is no right answer as such. It is a self-report containing 133 sentences with five alternative responses. These responses range from “very seldom or not true of me” to “very often true of me or true of me”. It is suitable for those aged 17 or older.
You may think that human bias would distort the results of the test, as we all tend to see ourselves differently to how others see us. However, there is an automatic correction factor built in to the test that adjusts the scores. This correction is based on two validity checks called “Positive Impression and Negative Impression” which Bar-On claims reduces distortion due to bias and improves the accuracy of the results.
Other tests for Emotional Intelligence involve recognizing emotions in images of faces, and determining what type of emotion is most useful in each situation.
Importance to Business
There is an increasing amount of evidence to show that not only can we measure Emotional Intelligence accurately, but also that individuals can improve this ability.
When a multinational firm tested its experienced partners, those who scored above average delivered $1.2 million more profit from their accounts than did other partners (Boyatzis,.1999).
It seems that we will hear much more about Emotional Intelligence in the future.
Bar-On, R. (2006). The Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence (ESI). Psicothema, 18, sup., 13-25.
Boyatzis, R. E. (1999). From a presentation to the Linkage Conference on Emotional Intelligence, Chicago, IL, September 27, 1999.