Skills of the future: Emotional Intelligence

Bashayer Qashar - Al-Ahsa Track
This article was written by a Youth Voice program participant. Youth Voice Program is an enriching dialogue program that aims to engage Saudi Youth from all around the Kingdom in several seminars, discussion meetings and training. It focuses mainly on critical thinking and persuasive communication skills.

Whenever the skills of the future are mentioned, what usually comes to mind is things like technology, active and strategic learning, creative analysis and thinking, system analysis and evaluation, or technical skills. However, there are other types of skills which are just as important: life or soft skills. The most important type of soft skills is emotional intelligence since it constitutes a pivotal part of our lives.

Intelligence is multifaceted. There is logical intelligence, verbal intelligence, environmental intelligence, and the like. Today, we will demonstrate how emotional intelligence is a needed skill for the future. When we discuss the concept of intelligence or describe someone as highly intelligent, we would be referring to logical and mathematical intelligence or IQ which is the global score for measuring intelligence. A person's IQ is measured through several questions that test mental abilities. For example, Albert Einstein, the famous German physicist, had an IQ that ranged between 160 and 190, while the IQ of the average human is between 100 and 130.

Emotional intelligence is another type of intelligence which is as important as the first. It is abbreviated as "EI" or "EQ". Emotional intelligence has gained a new central position with global tests that identify the EI score through several questions that measure people's understanding of their own feelings, the emotions of others, as well as self-regulation and relationship management. Abraham Maslow defined emotional intelligence as the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

Have you ever wondered why highly intelligent people with advanced degrees sometimes fail, while average individuals with modest education achieve great success?

The secret lies in their emotional intelligence, and their ability to recognize their own and other people's feelings, as well as the capacity to understand and listen to those around them. Humans naturally tend to follow those who understand them and will give you their all if they sense that they are understood and that their needs are met.

In his book "Emotional Intelligence," Daniel Goleman summarized the elements of emotional intelligence as follows:

  1. Self-awareness.
  2. Self-regulation.
  3. Self-motivation.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Social skills (relationship management).

In job interviews, after asking about certifications and experience, applicants usually have to answer questions aimed at measuring their ability to deal with situations and people by presenting real-life examples. In most cases, the questions are as follows: What would you do if this happened to you? How will you react? At other times, employers may purposely provoke applicants to test their anger management skills and how they would deal with superiors.

Emotional intelligence improves corporate and organizational efficiency through positive employee relationships that make the work environment healthy and motivating. Conversely, if individuals do not have sufficient emotional intelligence, turmoil and anxiety will take over, which will slow business and push employees to dislike their work.

Employees with emotional intelligence have a stable life, even after working hours. This is considered good news for the workplace since such employees will be emotionally stable, thus becoming successful, generous, and more encouraged to do their best.

It is well known that there is a relationship between emotional intelligence and successful leadership. Emotional intelligence accounts for 85% of the reasons behind the high performance of leaders. They are the ones who know how to achieve goals and inspire people along the way.

The qualities of influential leaders:

  1. They are self-aware and conscious of their capabilities.
  2. They have full knowledge of team members and their energies.
  3. They are capable of being role models.
  4. They are good communicators.
  5. They are transparent and humble.
  6. They set clear goals.

All the above-mentioned qualities are classified under emotional intelligence. Leadership is a form of social interaction between the leader and the subordinates. Moreover, the leader's behavior contributes to achieving the group's goals, thereby improving social interaction between members and maintaining the group's cohesion.

Since leadership requires an interaction between two parties, a leader and a group of followers, understanding and dealing with others becomes an essential component of effective communication. This is the basis of emotional intelligence. (Bazazo, 2010, pages 19 and 20)

When we consider COVID-19 and how countries dealt with it, we would realize that nations with emotionally intelligent leaders successfully contained the pandemic. Consequently, an emotionally intelligent leader can touch the hearts of the people.

Relationships are very important in life. Humans are social in nature and cannot live in isolation. Therefore, building good relationships with many people is a must. However, these relationships need skills that we must master, most notably communication skills. There are several types of communication, such as verbal, nonverbal, written, audio and visual communication. With technological advancement, communication is manifested in many forms and various ways. Intelligent people know how to seize the opportunity and benefit from this advancement.

In the fast-paced world we live in, and with the changes that occur every day, people need to be stronger and more conscious of their feelings and those of others in order to adapt to transformations and overcome obstacles. Emotionally intelligent people understand that change, whether personal or professional, is an attribute of development. Moreover, it further enables people to face the feelings associated with change, such as fear, anxiety, and stress. All these emotions are normal, but the tricky part is figuring out how to deal with them.

Emotionally intelligent people are blessed with good mental and physical health thanks to their ability to deal with anger, stress, as well as internal and external changes. Mental and physical health are closely associated. This is why a doctor's first advice is usually resting and staying away from anxiety triggers. For example, two of the causes of irritable bowel disease are anger and psychological problems. The more people can suppress their anger and deal with it adequately, the less they are prone to catching diseases. The Messenger of Allah, may God bless him and grant him peace, said: "The strong man is not the one who can overpower others; rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself when he gets angry."

Finally, is emotional intelligence a learnable skill? We do believe so. You can develop and enhance your emotional intelligence through several methods, such as practicing mindfulness, observing your behavior and the situation around you, in addition to meditation, yoga exercises, and attending specialized courses and sessions.

In conclusion, emotional intelligence plays an important role in all aspects of our lives, be it personal, professional, or social. Every person needs to strengthen this skill to achieve their goals. The world is currently leaning towards understanding and harmony, and people are becoming more aware of their psychological and intellectual needs. Therefore, each person should develop their emotional intelligence.



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