Emotional Intelligence: The Other Kind of Smart



Gregory Limbe

Gone are the days where a strong CV and hundreds of years of experience were all the qualifications you needed to further your career. Now, we are judged not just by how smart we are, nor simply by training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other. This is where emotional intelligence comes into play.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to use specific skills to generate positive emotions, thus making intelligent responses to negative feelings. It lets you intentionally adapt, select, and shape your environment by being present, empathetic, genuine, resilient, and empowering. Taking this approach is not just about reacting through feeling as opposed to thinking, but is the uncommon gift of bridging the heart and mind.

Emotions and feelings influence decisions

Photograph via Pexels

Just as the monkey learns, we, too, must learn. Emotional intelligence is not an alien artifact that you stumble upon in your adult life; it is shaped by your environment and experiences. What you so happen to discover as an adult is emotional awareness.

By understanding yourself first, you gain emotional awareness: this tells you how your emotions may motivate or affect your thoughts and behaviour at work. Getting a firm handle on your emotions and your reactions to them will guide you on how to interact with your colleagues, creating a positive environment for others for their personal betterment at work. Think of emotional intelligence like birthday cake at the office: it’s good for your mood, but it isn’t only for you.

Deborah Blum wrote “We begin our lives with love and we learn human connection at home; it is the foundation upon which we build our lives. If the monkey does not learn to love in its infancy he/she may never learn to love at all.”

Why should you bother with EI?

Beyond all the pretty words, however, there are numbers that showcase the immense value of emotional intelligence at the workplace. Did you know that 75% of workers who voluntarily leave their jobs do so because of their bosses and not the position itself? A 2011 study by Gignac and Palmer showed that leaders who demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence in the workplace generate higher levels of employee engagement. Increased engagement can drop employee turnover by as much as 51% and, by extension, raise customer loyalty by 56%.

Engagement is not the only target of EI: with increasing stress levels in the workplace and dwindling mental health, employee depression and anxiety is through the roof. The Regus Group found that employees with high emotional intelligence are able to respond appropriately to workplace stress and to the emotional behaviour of their colleagues.

Emotional intelligence also greatly affects what many organisations incorrectly consider to be the most important thing: the bottom-line. Imagine having a sales force of emotionally intelligent individuals that have appropriately managed their stress, personal & interpersonal emotional well-being, and are highly engaged in your organisation. Studies show that these people are at least 38% more productive and as a result, sales performance would have no choice but to increase exponentially.

Managing responses leads to intelligent decisions

Photograph via Pexels

The end-game

Managing your responses to negative feelings, situations, environment, and making intelligent decisions based on such is the key to emotional intelligence. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle once said: Anyone can become angry -that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right reason, in the right way, -that is not easy.

In the same way one must choose their responses and know how & when to react to emotional stimuli. It is an intentional journey that requires presence and active decision making. Intelligence is not just given to you; it is something you have to work for.

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