What is EQ

What is EQ? Emotional intelligence is sometimes called EQ (or EI) for short. It describes an ability or capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions.

Just as a high IQ can predict top test scores, a high EQ can predict success in social and emotional situations. For most people, emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than one’s intelligence (IQ) in attaining success in their lives and careers. As individuals the success of our careers and personal lives depend on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.

Jobs such as those in sales and customer service in which emotional competencies obviously make a big difference, we already intuitively know. What surprised me was from the work done at Google with their ‘Search Inside Yourself’ course. They reported that this is true even for individual contributors in the tech sector, namely engineers whom you would expect to succeed purely on intellectual prowess. The top six competencies that distinguish star performers from average performers in the tech sector are:

  1. Strong achievement drive and high achievement standards [EQ]
  2. Ability to influence [EQ]
  3. Conceptual thinking [IQ]
  4. Analytical ability [IQ]
  5. Initiative in taking on challenges [EQ]
  6. Self-confidence [EQ]

Of the top six, only two (conceptual thinking and analytical ability) are purely intellectual competencies. The other four, including the top two, are emotional competencies.

Emotions have the potential to get in the way of our most important business and personal relationships. According to John Kotter of Harvard Business School: “Because of the furious pace of change in business today, difficult to manage relationships sabotage more business than anything else – it is not a question of strategy that gets us into trouble; it is a question of emotions.”

Decades of research now points to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a tremendous results. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58 percent of success in all types of jobs.


1. Self-awareness. The ability to recognise an emotion as it “happens” is the key to your EQ. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them.

2. Self-regulation. You often have little control over when you experience emotions. You can, however, have some say in how long an emotion will last by using a number of techniques to alleviate negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression. A few of these techniques include recasting a situation in a more positive light, taking a long walk and meditation.

3. Motivation. To motivate yourself for any achievement requires clear goals and a positive attitude. Although you may have a predisposition to either a positive or a negative attitude, you can with effort and practice learn to think more positively. If you catch negative thoughts as they occur, you can reframe them in more positive terms — which will help you achieve your goals.

4. Empathy. The ability to recognise how people feel is important to success in your life and career. The more skilful you are at discerning the feelings behind others’ signals the better you can control the signals you send them.

5. Social skills. The development of good interpersonal skills is tantamount to success in your life and career. In today’s always-connected world, everyone has immediate access to technical knowledge. Thus, “people skills” are even more important now because you must possess a high EQ to better understand, empathise and negotiate with others in a global economy.


A hard look at your emotional skills and weaknesses is the first step to improving EQ.

1. You know your strengths and weaknesses. A big part of having self-awareness is being honest with yourself about who you are — knowing where you excel, and where you struggle. An emotionally intelligent person learns to identify their areas of strength and weakness, and analyse how to work most effectively within their abilities.

2. You know how to pay attention. Do you get distracted by every tweet, text and passing thought? If so, it could be keeping you from functioning on your most emotionally intelligent level.

3. When you’re upset, you know exactly why. We all experience a number of emotional ups and downs during the day, and often we don’t even understand what’s causing them. But an important aspect of self-awareness is the ability to recognise where your emotions are coming from and to know why you feel upset.

4. You’ve always been self-motivated. Were you always ambitious and hard-working as a kid, even when you weren’t rewarded for it? If you’re a motivated self-starter — and you can focus your attention and energy towards the pursuit of your goals — you likely have a high EQ.

5. You’re curious about people you don’t know. Do you love meeting new people, and naturally tend to ask lots of questions after you’ve been introduced to someone? If so, you have a certain degree of empathy, one of the main components of emotional intelligence.


Some people have naturally good EQ skills. Others need to work on them. The good news is that everyone can get better. Unlike IQ, people can actually improve their emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is trainable, even in adults. This claim is based on a new branch of science known as “neuroplasticity.”

So how do we train emotional intelligence? It turns out the first step is attention training. The idea is to train attention to create a quality of mind that is calm and clear at the same time. That quality of mind forms the foundation for emotional intelligence.

A strong, stable, and perceptive attention affords you calmness and clarity. It’s the foundation upon which emotional intelligence is built upon. Self-awareness depends on being able to see ourselves objectively. Requires the ability to examine our thoughts and emotions from a third-person perspective. Not to be swept up in the emotion, not identifying with it, but just seeing it clearly and objectively.

The way to train your attention is with “mindfulness meditation.” Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness is a quality of mind that we all experience and enjoy from time to time. It’s something that can be made stronger with practice. Once it becomes strong, it leads to calmness and clarity that forms the basis of emotional intelligence.

Once you’ve develop strong, stable, and perceptive attention, we then focus on our bodies. Every emotion has a correlate in the body. Every emotional experience is not just a psychological experience. It’s also a physiological experience.

We can usually experience emotions more vividly in the body than in the mind. So, when we are trying to perceive an emotion, it’s more effective if we bring the attention to the body rather than the mind.

Bringing the attention to the body enables a high-resolution perception of emotions. High-resolution perception means your perception becomes so refined, you get to watch an emotion as it arises.

This attention training forms the foundation of the very first category of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness. The ability to recognise an emotion as it “happens” is the key to your EQ. Developing self-awareness requires tuning in to your true feelings. If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them.

My years of managing dev teams lead me to develop an EQ training course. It was easy for me to develop their technical abilities but what I found, what would truly boost their careers was improving EQ skills.

I was fortunate enough to have started Tai Chi a moving meditation at a very early age. Practising Tai Chi for over 25 years has allowed me to build a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.

If you are interested in supporting yourself or helping the teams you manage, the links below can help you learn more about EQ training.

  1. Emotional Intelligence Training Course
  2. Learn to meditate with the Just6 App
  3. Meditation and the Science
  4. 7 reasons that emotional intelligence is quickly becoming one of the top sought job skills
  5. The secret to a high salary Emotional intelligence
  6. How to bring mindfulness into your employee wellness program
  7. Google ’Search Inside Yourself’