What is EQ?

Less than 24 hours after posting How Valuable is Your Social Capital? A Time to Reflect, I bumped into an old acquaintance of mine that I hadn’t seen in years. He looked younger, vibrant and more physically fit. I complimented him on his positive transformation and asked what prompted the drastic change. He said it all started with a visit to the doctor. He thanked me personally for a blog I posted on a professional networking site about emotional intelligence. He said he had never heard of the term “EQ” before, and the information was beneficial to his transformation process. I thanked him for reinforcing the whole reason for yesterday’s social capital post and encouraged him to think about sharing his experience with the online community someday. I also made a decision to resurrect and edit my previous blog from another venue in hopes that it may inspire, educate and motivate others to pursue similar positive transformation.

IQ versus EQ

“We have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet every assembled,” said President Donald Trump to a group of reporters recently. This was a slightly less abrasive and confrontational quote compared to his May 8, 2013, tweet: “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest-and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”

Trump may be right that it’s not your fault. A simple Google search using the text string IQ medical research produces a litany of results suggesting everything from fluoride to how your mother interacted with you at birth may impact your IQ (intelligence quotient). There is an equally long list of blogs, research articles, and opinions debating whether IQ can be improved over time or if IQ is simply a statistical measure of one’s ability to think logically compared to a large population within the same age group. Whether you buy in to IQ as a reasonable measure of intelligence that you can or cannot control doesn’t really matter. Research shows that other factors, besides IQ, play a greater role in predicting life success.

“People with the highest levels of intelligence (IQ) outperform those with average IQs just 20 percent of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70 percent of the time.”

Yes, you read that statement correctly. These unexpected results launched several studies and experimentation methods to explain the anomaly. What researchers found is that EQ (emotional quotient that demonstrates level of emotional intelligence) may play a greater role in the likelihood of life success than IQ.

“Success in investing doesn’t correlate with IQ once you’re above the level of 25. Once you have ordinary intelligence, what you need is the temperament to control the urges that get other people into trouble investing.” Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

There are numerous examples of companies who believe in the value of EQ to the point of integrating emotional intelligence assessments into their development programs. For example, FedEx implemented a program and reported an “8-11% increase in core leadership competencies, with over half of the participants experiencing very large (10-50%) improvements in certain key emotional intelligence skills and leadership outcomes: 72% of the program participants experienced very large increases in decision making, 60% in quality of life, and 58% showed major improvements in influence.” Boeing Australia undertook a leadership program incorporating an Emotional Capital model and found a direct correlation between the quality of leadership skills and the staff attrition rate. Chade-Meng Tan, a Google employee, not only introduced the concept of EQ to Google, but also authored a book and created training for other companies, including SAP. After taking the course, SAP employees reported “feeling less stress and higher productivity, even six months after taking the program. One course graduate said it had a ‘deep impact on his marriage’ because he learned how to listen in a different way.”

Why a personal understanding of EQ is important

The latter portion of this blog will walk you through my personal journey with EQ; I haven’t reached my destination. In 2013, I took a TalentSmart® EQ test. The authors of the test provided a matrix to explain emotional intelligence by rating personal competence (self-awareness and self-management) and social competence (social awareness and relationship management). Using a scale from 0-100, each score from the categories was rated as a concern (59 and below), something to work on (60-69), a potential strength if worked on (70-79), a strength to build on (80-89), and a strength to capitalize on (90-100). My overall score was 79 with my weaker area in personal competence, a score of 73, and my stronger area in social competence, a score of 84. Fortunately, the test results included an appendix with strategies to improve EQ. In my case, I was personally reacting too quickly to verbal and non-verbal cues or showing my frustration too easily. Recommended improvement actions were to take several long deep breaths and improve self-talk (not everything is my fault when things go wrong).

To implement my EQ improvement strategy, I brought a brown paper lunch bag with me to my next stressful meeting. It worked great. Whenever someone said something upsetting or looked at me the wrong way, I picked up the bag and slowly filled it with air and sucked it back in. Just kidding! I took a slightly different approach and started practicing yoga on a regular basis. I always enjoyed jogging, so I understood the importance of proper breathing. I learned pretty quickly that there’s a tendency to take shallow breaths or none at all when you are perfectly still in a difficult position than when you are pumping your arms and legs up a steep hill. By practicing controlled breathing in a safe environment alone, it is much easier to do it all the time—not just when things get stressful in a group setting where everything you say and do may be closely monitored and judged.

If you’re wondering whether I saw measurable improvement, the answer is yes. I took another EQ test in 2016, approximately three years later. Though the test was administered by a different company, TTI Success Insights®, it’s safe to say my results improved in the personal competence area. The categories were slightly different. Intrapersonal emotional intelligence included self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. Interpersonal emotional intelligence included empathy and social skills.
My overall scores are shown versus my scores from a test three years prior; individual category results provide additional commentary to explain the results and where improvement is still needed.

Overall EQ 8.6 (vs. 7.9)   

Intrapersonal 8.8 (vs. 7.3)   

Interpersonal 8.6 (vs. 8.4)

Self-Awareness 9.2/10
“May occasionally be overly critical of herself when her emotions take charge. Clearly identifies her emotional reactions to life situations. She has a firm grasp of her emotional strengths and weaknesses.”
Self-Regulation 7.8/10
She consistently thinks things through from an emotional perspective before acting. She is able to have a calming effect on other people who are experiencing significant stress. She is able to effectively lift herself out of a bad mood.”
Motivation 9.5/10
“Often looks for ways to develop her skills or improve her career. Leverages her motivation in order to understand and avoid the negative effects of procrastination. When things become difficult, she uses her motivation to maintain perspective on the issues.”
Empathy 8.0/10
“Recognizes if she has potentially offended someone and will make efforts to avoid that in the future. Her ability to gauge the emotional response of others enhances her ability to work with people. Generally is able to empathize with others, even when she has not been there herself.”
Social Skills 8.4/10
“Collaborates well with her coworkers. She can be persuasive and is generally able to negotiate well with others. Generally deciphers nonverbal clues in any interaction.”

Action plan

Looking at the results, it’s easy to fall into the trap of judging scores as good or bad. What is most important is continual improvement. My personal action plan to improve includes:  dedicated time each morning to read Bible verses that focus on mind transformation (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Philippians 4:6-8), a meditation practice that focuses on self-talk, and, of course, gardening. Let me know if this is something new to you or if you’re a seasoned pro. I look forward to reading comments and feedback about your EQ experiences!

©Room2GrowGarden.com, December 1, 2017


Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart.

Cherry, K. (2016, June 23). IQ or EQ: Which One is More Important? Retrieved January 26, 2017, from Verywell: https://www.verywell.com/iq-or-eq-which-one-is-more-important-2795287

Conley, C. (2011, August 2). The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from The Top 10 Emotionally-Intelligent Fortune 500 CEOs: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chip-conley/the-top-10-emotionallyint_b_911576.html

Fottrell, Q. (2017, January 21). Trump Says His Cabinet Has the Hightest IQ Ever and the Research (sort of) Backs Him Up. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-says-his-cabinet-has-the-highest-iq-ever-research-sort-of-backs-him-up-2017-01-19

Freedman, J. (2014, January 14). Case Study: Emotional Intelligence for People-First Leadership at FedEx Express. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from Sixseconds The Emotional Intelligence Network: http://www.6seconds.org/2014/01/14/case-study-emotional-intelligence-people-first-leadership-fedex-express/

Giang, V. (2015, March 25). Fastcompany. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from Inside Google’s Insanely Popular Emotional-Intelligence Course: https://www.fastcompany.com/3044157/the-future-of-work/inside-googles-insanely-popular-emotional-intelligence-course

Michna, H.-G. (2016). The Definition of the IQ. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from Hans-Georg Michna: http://www.michna.com/iq.htm

Moss, C. (2013, June 19). Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from How Great Leaders Are Using Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to Build Business Capital: http://extra.shu.ac.uk/sbsblog/2013/06/how-great-leaders-are-using-emotional-intelligence-eq-to-build-business-capital/

Trump, D. J. (2013, May 8). @realDonaldTrump. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from Twitter: https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/332308211321425920?lang=en  http://www.yogajournal.com/article/audio-files/meditation-practice-let-in-joy-happiness/

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