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EQ vs IQ: Which is More Important?

Is your IQ being undermined by your EQ?

Since the late 1800’s when psychologists first developed the IQ test, a person's IQ (or intelligence quotient) has widely been considered the most reliable indicator of their potential to succeed in life, i.e High IQ = More Likely To Succeed.

However, if you think about this in the context of the people you know and have worked with over the years, my bet is you’ll find there’s something about this IQ equation that just doesn’t quite add up. I have come across plenty of bright people who struggle to get ahead,  be recognised or promoted in spite of their intellectual abilities. I’m sure you can also think of examples of people who don’t seem to have intellectual smarts, but who are nonetheless extremely successful and have risen to the top of their profession. Clearly there is something missing from the mix – and that something is known as Emotional Intelligence, or EQ.

EQIQblogphotoA person’s EQ dictates their capacity to recognise and manage social and ‘soft’ skills such as interpersonal relationships, influence and charisma, as well as their own inner emotions, including reactions to people and situations around them. Modern psychology studies have shown that EQ is actually a much higher predictor of a person’s success than IQ – meaning it’s far more important to focus on gaining skills in this area if you actually want to get ahead in life.

According to Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer there are four distinct levels of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability to reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.

Level 1: Perceiving Emotions:

Many people find it difficult to recognise and accurately interpret emotions – both their own and those of other people. If you have been taught from a young age that emotions are ‘bad’ you may have learned to suppress them to the point where you can’t identify or feel them easily. Some find it hard to correctly read and interpret non-verbal signals such as facial expressions and body language, and therefore are either ignorant of others’ feelings or react to them inappropriately.

Level 2: Reasoning With Emotions:

Moving up the EQ scale the next level involves using emotions as a positive tool to assist us in getting things done. Adding emotional weight to a goal gives us more motivation to do it, and can actually assist with our thought processes and physical ability. Sports psychologists and personal coaches use this as a great tool to help clients tap into more powerful levels of performance.

Level 3: Understanding Emotions:

Although it is important to be able to recognise and reason with emotions, there is such a broad spectrum of emotions that we need to also become adept at understanding what the presence of an emotion actually means. If you notice someone is angry, you could interpret that in many ways – is it because they are angry with you, or angry with something or someone else? What does their anger mean for you and your situation? Understanding and interpreting emotions helps you choose a course of action that will be appropriate in handling the situation.

Level 4: Managing Emotions:

Reaching this final level is the sign of possessing true Emotional Intelligence. Being able to manage, regulate and respond to different emotions in different ways is a learned skill we can all practice and become better at. When we learn to respond, rather than react, and to choose the emotions we wish to feel, we can say we have truly mastered Emotional intelligence. With the awareness you gain from this level of emotional intelligence it will soon become apparent to you how EQ trumps IQ in every situation.

Where do you rank on the EQ scale? Give yourself a score from 0-10 on the four levels above, where 0 = never and 10 = all the time 


Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See for more information.

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Alison Rentoul
Professional Development Coach

Tel: +33 (0)493 581 408
Mob: +33 (0)677 008 057

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Skype: alison.rentoul 

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