In 2016, the World Economic Forum released its fascinating Future of Jobs Report, where they asked chief human resources officers from global companies what they saw as the top 10 job skills required for workers to thrive by 2020.
One skill projected for success in 2020 that didn't even crack the top 10 list in 2015 was -- you guessed it -- emotional intelligence.
According to many experts in the field, emotional intelligence has become an important predictor of job success for nearly two decades, even surpassing technical ability.
In one noteworthy CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,600 U.S. hiring managers and human resources professionals, it was found that "fifty-nine percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low [emotional intelligence]."
In fact, 75 percent of survey respondents said they're more likely to promote someone with high emotional intelligence over someone with high IQ.
Companies are placing a high value on workers with emotional intelligence for several reasons. In my own studies and observations over the years as a leadership coach, here are six that really stand out.
1. People with emotional intelligence respond rather than react.
So often we react and get defensive when faced with an emotionally charged situation or a difficult co-worker or client. In high-EQ people, once they get a handle on the root cause of a negative emotion (what's pushing their buttons), they typically respond with a more patient, "keep calm" approach. They'll process a situation about to go south, get perspective, listen with without judgment, and hold back from reacting head on.
2. People with emotional intelligence show up with their real selves.
A common tendency for people at work is to put on a mask that hides who they truly are when faced with difficult people or situations. An emotionally-intelligent worker or leader shows up with integrity and her best and most authentic self; she'll face those difficult people and situations with unfettered, emotional honesty and transparency.
3. People with emotional intelligence think before they speak.
There's a nifty conversational technique called the "six second pause," used by people with emotional intelligence to gather their thoughts before they speak. Why six seconds? The chemicals of emotion inside our brains and bodies usually last about six seconds. During a heated exchange, if we can pause for a short moment, the flood of chemicals being produced slows down. When you are frustrated or upset, before you say something harsh, this precious pause helps you to quickly assess the costs and benefits of your actions and make more careful choices.
4. People with emotional intelligence handle tough situations better
Take an unhappy customer or a disgruntled coworker, for example. A high level of EQ in a colleague or manager will show up by staying calm and positive during tough conversations; it also shows up with firmness and boundaries to set limits on people during spiraling disagreements and unhealthy conflict.
5. People with emotional intelligence practice self-control.
Psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman says this about people with self-control:
Reasonable people--the ones who maintain control over their emotions--are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.
Self-control is a learned skill to help you be more present, calmer, and focused during times of high stress. It's a necessary emotional skill with long-term payoff.
6. People with emotional intelligence look at the whole picture.
Because they operate with a high degree of self-awareness, they're able to see both sides of an issue and tap into their feelings and those of others to choose a different, and better, outcome. Quoting Daniel Goleman again, he says this about self-awareness:
"If you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far."