“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” Lao-Tzu
With the market being flooded with millions of college degreed job seekers, often employers find several candidates with nearly identical qualifications for an open position. With so much competition, the final choice can come down to which person has the most attractive “soft skills.”
Soft skills can include a wide range of mostly subjective qualities.
- Is the candidate socially adept…dressed well, a smooth conversationalist, professional demeanor, good hygiene, and a “cultural fit.”
- Has the prospective employee shown traits like initiative, mentoring skills, a good work ethic, and creativity?
- Is this a potential employee who is involved in worthy outside pursuits, perhaps a charitable or community organization?
- Has the job candidate demonstrated skills working with others to achieve a goal?
At the top of the list of what enlightened employers look for is emotional intelligence. A meta-analysis conducted by Ernest O’Boyle at the Virginia Commonwealth University, and published in ScienceDaily (January 16, 2014), found that a person’s emotional intelligence is the best predictor of job performance. Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to understand their own emotions and those of others.
Surprisingly, people with emotional intelligence share one key trait with people who are sociopaths…the ability to manipulate others to satisfy their own interest. The difference, according to new research published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Yukin Nozaki at Kyoto University, is the “appropriateness” of the manipulation…or as most would say, influence. A worker who can truly understand his or her emotions in relation to the emotions of others can achieve great things…even be considered a leader.
Emotional intelligence is the reason why people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time, according to Travis Bradbury, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It is the somewhat intangible “secret sauce” that enables some people to manage their behavior well, interact with others in complex social encounters, and make decisions that benefit everyone.
The core skills of emotional intelligence include:
- Personal competence.
- Social competence.
- Social awareness.
- Relationship management.
If you lack any of these competencies, it isn’t easy to become proficient…primarily because they all derive from a lack of personal self-awareness (which is itself a core ingredient in emotional intelligence). Obviously, if you are unaware that a problem even exists it’s unlikely you will ever change.
If you are capable of honest self-examination, take the time and make the effort to scrutinize the areas of your emotional intelligent competencies. Enlist a friend or relative to provide support and honest feedback. Study up on methods you can begin to use to increase your emotional intelligence.
The foundation for increasing your emotional intelligence is mindfulness and self-awareness. Begin with books such as:
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- People Tools: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy, and Embracing Prosperity by Alan C. Fox
- Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than I.Q. by Daniel Goleman
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
It pays to devote the time and energy to examine your deeply held ingrained beliefs, behavior, and learned prejudices. Scrutinize your inner self like a trial attorney. Find out who you really are…and then decide if you like what you see.
The 21st Century has been characterized so far by a cacophony of change, a deluge of information, and personal challenges unlike any we’ve seen in decades. With competitive pressures greater than ever, the difference between success or failure in your career…and in life…can be emotional intelligence.