‘Anyone can become angry –that is easy. But to get angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for right purpose, and in the right way –this is not easy’.
-Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Until recently, we earthlings were under the impression that IQ is the greatest measure of human potential. But two scientists, Dr. John Mayer and Dr. Peter Salovey showed the world that it is Emotional Intelligence (EI) which plays a greater role in making us successful people. EI is measured in terms of Emotional Quotient (EQ). EI has its roots in the concept of ‘social intelligence’, first identified by E.L. Thorndike in 1920.
It was in the early 1990s that Dr. John Mayer and Peter Salovey introduced the term ‘emotional intelligence’ in the Journal of Personality Assessment. They used this term to describe a person’s ability to understand his or her own emotions and the emotions of others and act appropriately based on this understanding. Then in 1995, psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized this term with his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ.
Now it is widely accepted that EQ plays an important role in determining our success (or failure). Just like tests meant to measure IQ and aptitude, EQ tests have been devised. In India, EQ is tested indirectly in many ways, both for recruitment as well as for admission to institutes (especially MBA). The personal interview (PI), statement of purpose (SOP) and group discussions (GD) reveal a bit about your EQ. Obviously, in a field like management, EQ of the manager determines not only his/her success but the organisation’s success as well.
EQ plays such an important role in our lives simply because almost everything we do is influenced in some way or the other by our emotions. Even if you are engaged in something like answering a question paper, whether it involves simple calculations or the use of memory, your emotions still play an important role. For example, you must have had an experience where you couldn’t recall anything just because just before the exam in spite of having prepared well. This was because you were simply overwhelmed by unwanted emotions. Every decision we take is influenced by emotions.
The best thing about EQ is that people can consciously work towards improving it. It is not surprising, therefore, that many big companies and organizations are exposing their employees to different training programs that are essentially experiential in nature and claim to be helpful in improving the EQ of the participants. Also, activities like yoga and meditation coupled with personality development go a long way in improving our EQ. If you are reading a self-development book, chances are it is meant to improve your EQ in some way!
Since no one has so far been able to develop a good scale for intelligence, most EQ tests can only give us an idea. There are many free online EQ tests available on the internet. Go ahead and find out what you EQ is! But be wary, the results of these tests are not the absolute truth. But the most important thing is that you may get to know your strengths and weaknesses and you can work towards maximizing your personal aptitudes and social skills. This can in turn make a big difference to your professional/personal growth.
(I wrote this article for Times of India in 2003. I got to do quite a bit of research including taking EQ tests! According those test my strength was empathy. Now you know whom to contact if you want a good listener… ;-) )