Is Your Emotional Intelligence Holding You Back?

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What if there is a portion of our personality and behavior that is holding us back, professionally or in our private lives? Would you be willing to change it if you could?

Each one of us is born with a set of “pre-loaded” potentials, one of which is our IQ or intellectual capability. The army was one of the first organizations to measure IQ. According to Wikipedia, this was based on the French “Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test,” and ever since has been how we measure our “smarts,” i.e., our ability to gain or lose opportunities or sales. I think of IQ as our hardware; we can sharpen our skills, but it remains at the same level. If IQ is our “hardware,” then Emotional Intelligence (EI) can be considered our “software.”

Have you ever encountered a person who was judged to be a “genius,” yet that same person did not move ahead in his/her life? I can certainly think of a few colleagues in high school and in college who were straight “A” students, yet a few years later realized that their lives had become somewhat…derailed. The same applies for some salespeople. They can get the job done, but some let their emotions rule their level of success. Chances are these people have EI levels that impede their social and professional advancement.

Several large Fortune 500 companies today are hiring and promoting employees based in part on EI. According to the EI Consortium, at certain companies the actual EI consideration has resulted in a substantial increase in performance and results. If EI can be a vehicle to improve hiring efficiency, a way to help your staff perform better, or a new component of your career evolution, then learning about it can be a great investment of time and resources.

Based on Harvard Business Reviews “10 must reads on EI”1 and a test on EI on TalentSmart, here is how Emotional Intelligence can be divided:


Self-Awareness… Also known as self-confidence, this trait allows us to read our emotions and regulate our reactions to all situations. Being aware of our emotions and their impact on others is a quality of great leaders and essential for career development.

Self-Management… The ability to control those emotions. It is easy to assume that if you are not aware of them, they will be very difficult to control. For a salesperson, manager, or leader, it is imperative that a bad mood not control your interactions or ruin an otherwise productive day.

Social Awareness… According to HBR, this competency includes empathy and organizational intuition. How do our words and actions make others feel? Being in tune with our impact on others is a great skill that lets others know you care!

Relationship Management… This includes a great capability to communicate clearly. That trait is intrinsically connected to social awareness.

HBR goes into more detail dividing EI into self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

Being aware of our EI can help determine the course of our careers and our lives, and can lead us to ask these questions:

  • Can EI be learned? Can EI help me and/or the ones who work with me?
  • Will increasing EI improve my bottom line?

The answer to the first question is “yes.” Emotional intelligence also increases with maturity and is regulated by the limbic system, which controls our feelings and impulses. Generally, EI can be improved. It not only requires practice, feedback, and the breaking of old behaviors, but an individualized approach because it is not mechanical. Instead, each person is a set of ever-changing, unique combinations of emotion and behavior.

The answer to the second question is also “yes.” Looking again at the business examples from the EI consortium study, we can clearly conclude that improving our EI and that of our organization’s staff will impact the bottom line. In that study, you will find that in sales jobs of some complexity, a high EI can represent a 127% increase in performance.

Attend a GAF CARE sales class to enhance your sales skills. 

1Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman, RIchard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, and Sydney Finkelstein 10 must reads on EI, 2015

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