15 Important High Emotional Intelligence Benefits
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to excel in their personal and professional lives, while others struggle to find success?
The answer may lie in their level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a term that has gained significant attention in recent years. It refers to your ability to understand, use, manage, and express your emotions, as well as the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others.
I have been helping people build their emotional intelligence for decades. I am more and more convinced that it is the key to personal happiness, successful relationships, and healthy communities.
While writing my most recent book, Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook, I became aware that some of the sweeping declarations made about the crucial value of emotional intelligence, such as it being more important than intellectual intelligence in determining how far your career will go, aren't fully supported by research, so I wanted to sort out fact from fiction.
In this article, we will explore the research-based benefits of having a high emotional intelligence quotient. So, if you're curious about how emotional intelligence can benefit you, keep reading to discover the key advantages it offers.
What's in This Post
|Terms Used for Emotional Intelligence
|EQ vs IQ
|What are emotions?
|My Emotional Intelligence Definition
|Mayer and Salovey Emotional Intelligence Definition
|Daniel Goleman's Definition of Emotional Intelligence
|Emotional Intelligence Helps You Deal with Emotional Pain and Boosts Happiness
|The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
|15 Research-Based High Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Benefits
|How Emotional Intelligence Helps
|Emotional Intelligence Workbook
Terms Used for Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is also known as Emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). And it is encompassed in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs used in schools.
Sometimes, especially in work contexts, emotional intelligence skills are called soft skills.
EQ vs IQ
For a number of years, people got so excited about emotional intelligence that they were making sweeping assertions that it is more important than intellectual intelligence.
While the absolute assertion that EQ outweighs IQ is problematic since their relative importance can depend on the context and the specific skills required for a given situation, there is no doubt that high emotional intelligence provides many advantages in many aspects of life. (I'll get into those research-backed advantages in a minute.)
What's the difference between IQ and EQ?
Besides that IQ is about intellectual intelligence and EQ is about emotional intelligence, a huge difference is that IQ is baked in--you are born with it--and EQ is learned. This is great news!
Wherever you are with your emotional intelligence level, you can build on it and improve your knowledge and skill level.
What are emotions?
From my perspective, emotions are information. Emotions (AKA feelings) let us know what is going on between us and the world. They give us direction and motivation. They help us survive. And they help us go beyond mere surviving to thriving.
My Emotional Intelligence Definition
Emotional intelligence is wisdom about, and ability to deal with, emotions—yours and other people’s. It is a skill set that can be learned and developed.
Mayer and Salovey Emotional Intelligence Definition
John Mayer and Peter Salovey, two of the founders of emotional intelligence theory, offered this definition:
“We define EI as the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions, to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”
While many others have added to their work, Mayer and Salovey (currently the President of Yale University) remain prominent figures in the field of emotional intelligence.
Daniel Goleman's Definition of Emotional Intelligence
Publication of Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ popularized EI concepts. The book’s long-lasting success landed it on Time Magazine’s twenty-five most influential business management books list. Goleman, a psychologist and science journalist, has gone on to publish many books focusing on EI in the workplace and leadership. He also co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, bringing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs into schools around the world.
“Emotional Intelligence refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” —Daniel Goleman
Emotional Intelligence Helps You Deal with Emotional Pain and Boosts Happiness
Emotional intelligence helps you understand both your "negative" emotions and "positive" emotions. (I prefer the terms uncomfortable or painful, and comfortable or feel-good, to describe groups of emotions to get away from the judgment associated with calling one group of emotions negative and another positive. It's not that some emotions are bad and some are good. All emotions are information. It's just that some of them feel good and some don't.)
Many people who write about EI only focus on helping you understand emotional pain, but I think that it is equally important to learn how to get more happiness in your life and savor the feel-good emotions. The field of Positive Psychology has added to our knowledge base around the advantages of feel-good emotions from healthy sources and exercises to help boost "positive" emotions. (I spend equal time on effectively dealing with emotional pain and boosting feel-good emotions in my book Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook.)
The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
High emotional intelligence helps you use your emotions to your advantage and understand the emotions of others.
It helps you manage your emotional state and maneuver through difficult situations. It boosts your social skills, strengthens your relationships, and helps you work more effectively with other team members.
High EQ has proven to be a vital skill set in leadership role success.
Research-Based High Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Benefits
In my Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook, I provide more references for each of the benefits listed below. I'll include a sampling here.
1. Happiness, Subjective Well-being, and Life Satisfaction
Numerous studies have consistently found a positive association between higher emotional intelligence and subjective well-being. Emotionally intelligent people tend to report higher levels of happiness and overall life satisfaction. This link suggests that the ability to understand and manage emotions effectively contributes significantly to one's overall sense of well-being and contentment.
Sánchez-Álvarez, N., Extremera, N., & Fernández-Berrocal, P. (2016). The relation between emotional intelligence and subjective well-being: A meta-analytic investigation. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(3), 276–285.
2. Stress Resilience (The Ability to Withstand Stress, Bounce Back, and Thrive)
Research has demonstrated that individuals with higher emotional intelligence exhibit greater ability dealing with difficult times and increased stress resilience. These individuals are better equipped to withstand the impact of stressors, recover more effectively from challenging situations, and, ultimately, thrive in the face of adversity. This resilience is a key benefit associated with the emotional skills encompassed by higher emotional intelligence.
Schneider, T. R., Lyons, J. B., & Khazon, S. (2013). Emotional intelligence and resilience. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(8), 909–914.
3. Stronger Relationships
The research consistently shows that individuals with higher EQ are more likely to establish and maintain healthy, happy relationships. Their ability to understand and navigate their own emotions and manage their emotional reaction along with understand the feelings of others contributes to effective communication, empathy, and conflict management, fostering positive interpersonal connections.
Malouff, J. M., Schutte, N. S., & Thorsteinsson, E. B. (2014). Trait Emotional Intelligence and Romantic Relationship Satisfaction: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Family Therapy, 42(1), 53–66.
4. Better Job Performance and Satisfaction
Studies indicate a positive correlation between higher EQ and better job performance and satisfaction. Individuals with heightened emotional intelligence often exhibit superior interpersonal skills, effective leadership qualities, and adaptability in the workplace, leading to increased job satisfaction and success.
Dogru Ç. (2022). A Meta-Analysis of the Relationships Between Emotional Intelligence and Employee Outcomes. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 611348. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.611348
5. Academic Achievement Across All Levels From Elementary School to University
The impact of emotional intelligence extends to academic settings, with research demonstrating a positive relationship between higher emotional intelligence and academic achievement. Students who possess emotional intelligence skills tend to perform better across all levels of education, from elementary school to university, highlighting the importance of emotional intelligence in the learning environment.
MacCann, C., Jiang, Y., Brown, L. E. R., Double, K. S., Bucich, M., & Minbashian, A. (2020). Emotional intelligence predicts academic performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin, 146(2), 150–186.
6. Self-Control and Motivation
Research suggests that individuals with higher emotional intelligence demonstrate greater self-control and motivation. These individuals are better equipped to regulate their own emotions, resist impulsive behaviors, and stay motivated to pursue their goals, contributing to personal and professional success.
Dumciene, A., & Sipaviciene, S. (2021). The Role of Gender in Association between Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control among University Student-Athletes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(22), 11819.
7. Reduced Risk of Depression
Lower emotional intelligence has been consistently associated with a higher risk of depression. The inability to recognize, understand, and effectively manage one's emotions can contribute to the onset and persistence of depressive symptoms. Individuals with lower emotional intelligence may face challenges in coping with life stressors, forming and maintaining positive relationships, and navigating the complexities of their own emotional experiences. Understanding this link sheds light on the importance of emotional intelligence as a protective factor against the development of depressive symptoms.
Amirifard, N., Payandeh, M., Aeinfar, M., Sadeghi, M., Sadeghi, E., & Ghafarpor, S. (2017). A Survey on the Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Level of Depression and Anxiety among Women with Breast Cancer. International journal of hematology-oncology and stem cell research, 11(1), 54–57.
8. Reduced Risk of General Anxiety
Lower emotional intelligence is also associated with a higher risk of generalized anxiety. The inability to recognize, understand, and effectively manage one's emotions can contribute to heightened anxiety levels. Individuals with lower emotional intelligence may struggle to navigate and cope with various stressors, leading to persistent feelings of worry and apprehension. Understanding the intricate relationship between emotional intelligence and anxiety sheds light on the potential role of emotional skills in mitigating the impact of anxiety disorders.
Wells, J., Watson, K., E Davis, R., Siraj A Quadri, S., R Mann, J., Verma, A., Sharma, M., & Nahar, V. K. (2021). Associations among Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Emotional Intelligence among Veterinary Medicine Students. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(8), 3934.
9. Less Social Anxiety
In the context of social anxiety, lower emotional intelligence emerges as a significant contributing factor. Research indicates that individuals with lower emotional intelligence may find it challenging to navigate the complexities of social interactions, leading to heightened levels of social anxiety. Difficulties in accurately perceiving others' emotions, expressing oneself effectively, and managing social cues may contribute to increased anxiety levels in social situations. Recognizing and addressing the role of emotional intelligence in social anxiety provides valuable insights for developing targeted interventions to alleviate the specific challenges associated with anxiety in social contexts.
Cejudo, J., Rodrigo-Ruiz, D., López-Delgado, M. L., & Losada, L. (2018). Emotional Intelligence and Its Relationship with Levels of Social Anxiety and Stress in Adolescents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(6), 1073. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15061073
10. Protects Against Eating Disorders
Research indicates that lower emotional intelligence is associated with the development and prevalence of eating disorders. Difficulties in recognizing and coping with emotions may contribute to disordered eating behaviors.
Romero-Mesa, J., Peláez-Fernández, M. A., & Extremera, N. (2021). Emotional intelligence and eating disorders: a systematic review. Eating and weight disorders: EWD, 26(5), 1287–1301.
11. Less Likely to Smoke, or Abuse of Alcohol and Drugs
Individuals with lower emotional intelligence are more prone to engaging in harmful behaviors, such as smoking and substance abuse. The inability to effectively manage emotions may contribute to the adoption of these coping mechanisms.
And, lower emotional intelligence is correlated with challenges in maintaining sobriety and quitting smoking. Emotional growth can stunt out at whatever age someone started using substances to cope. When I work with clients on quitting unhealthy habits, I always like to start with emotion skills.
Leite, K. P., Martins, F. M. P., Trevizol, A. P., Noto, J. R. S., & Brietzke, E. (2019). A critical literature review on emotional intelligence in addiction. Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 41(1), 87–93.
Berking, M., Margraf, M., Ebert, D., Wupperman, P., Hofmann, S. G., & Junghanns, K. (2011). Deficits in emotion-regulation skills predict alcohol use during and after cognitive-behavioral therapy for alcohol dependence. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 79(3), 307–318.
12. Reduced Risk of Internet Addiction
Lower emotional intelligence is associated with an increased risk of internet addiction. Difficulties in emotional regulation may contribute to excessive and problematic internet use.
Khoshakhlagh, H., & Faramarzi, S. (2012). The relationship of emotional intelligence and mental disorders with internet addiction in internet users university students. Addiction & health, 4(3-4), 133–141.
13. Reduced Aggression and Hostility
Individuals with lower emotional intelligence are more likely to display aggression and hostility. Challenges in understanding and managing emotions may contribute to interpersonal difficulties and conflict.
García-Sancho, E., Dhont, K., Salguero, J. M., & Fernández-Berrocal, P. (2017). The personality basis of aggression: The mediating role of anger and the moderating role of emotional intelligence. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58(4), 333–340.
14. Protects Against Job Burnout
Lower emotional intelligence is linked to job burnout. Difficulties in coping with workplace stress and navigating interpersonal dynamics may contribute to increased levels of burnout.
Michinov E. (2022). The Moderating Role of Emotional Intelligence on the Relationship Between Conflict Management Styles and Burnout among Firefighters. Safety and health at work, 13(4), 448–455.
15. Reduced Risk of Suicidal Ideation and Behavior
Most concerningly, lower emotional intelligence is associated with an elevated risk of suicidal ideation and behavior. The inability to effectively cope with and regulate emotions may contribute to severe mental health challenges, emphasizing the critical role of emotional intelligence in overall well-being.
Abdollahi, A., Hosseinian, S., & Rasuli, R. (2020). Emotional Intelligence Moderates Anhedonia and Suicidal Ideation in Depressed Patients. Psychological reports, 123(3), 660–673.
How Emotional Intelligence Helps
Elena Domínguez-García and Pablo Fernández-Berrocal from the University of Málaga in Spain provide a dramatic summary of EI benefits in their 2018 Frontiers in Psychology journal article. They performed a search for English and Spanish language research projects about a possible connection between suicide and EI. Their final meta-analysis included results from 25 experiments (with a total of over 13,000 subjects) published between 2010 and 2018 by researchers from more than ten countries, including Hong Kong, Spain, Iran, Mexico, Egypt, the US, Poland, China, India, Pakistan, and Chile.
“The results strongly agree with those found in the literature on the association between suicide risk and EI, and the role of the latter as a protective factor. The reasons for why EI has a protective capacity could be linked to its negative correlation with depression and risky behaviors such as substance abuse; its role in promoting positive emotions and resilience; the creation and maintenance of close relationships; the use of effective coping strategies rather than maladaptive strategies; the experience of less emotional distress when coping with a stressful situation; the maintenance of higher self-esteem and self-efficacy that mitigates the influence of negative events; and the increase of subjective well-being and life satisfaction.”
Emotional Intelligence Workbook
Building Skills to Uplevel Life: Silver Lining Emotional Intelligence Workbook is full of information, tips, techniques, and simple EQ-building exercises to make your life better.
- Ann Silvers