Emotionally intelligent people have a higher potential to be successful than those who aren’t.

Before we talk about emotionally intelligent people, let’s focus on what emotional intelligence actually is. It’s hard to put your finger on what exactly constitutes emotional intelligence.

Even though we may not understand the ins and outs of the concept, it has a significant influence on how we behave, react, navigate social situations and make important decisions. The skills of emotional intelligence can be categorised into two groups: social competence and personal competence.

Social competence can be defined as your aptitude in understanding and interpreting the feelings, behaviour and motives of other people. It also includes the ways in which you manage and improve the quality of your relationships.

Personal competence involves emotional self-awareness and management of your own behaviour and actions. Keeping this in mind, we will now lay out how cultivating emotional intelligence is key to successful living.

There are three primary reasons behind management derailment – and they are all associated with emotional competence! Poor teamwork skills, difficulty in coping with change and problems in interpersonal relations are the main pathways to failure in the executive world.

Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology revealed that technical skills accounted for just 15% of financial success. The rest was down to personality, leadership and communication skills, the ability to negotiate and work well with people.

This clearly demonstrates the significance of emotional intelligence. Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman observed that most people prefer to do business with someone who is likeable and trustworthy, even if another party is offering a better deal.

Try it out for yourself. Think of a time when you made a major purchase, such as a car, and had to deal with a salesperson. Were you more likely to buy an item based on the personality of the person? In my experience, most people have answered ‘yes’.

No matter what field you are in, it is always better to work with emotionally intelligent people, people who are supportive, trustworthy, pleasant and easy to deal with. You also want to work alongside someone who can stay cool, calm and collected when things go wrong.

Characteristics Which Nurture Emotional Intelligence

So how do you become the best possible version of yourself? How can you be the co-worker everyone wants on their team?

Here are the crucial attributes of emotionally intelligent people who are sure to put you on the path to the top:

Emotional Self-Regulation

Both pleasant and unpleasant emotions are part of being human. They can drive our behavior, inform our choices and influence our relationships – for better or for worse. Whilst nobody should aim to rid themselves of emotion, we can learn to better manage our emotions through self-regulation.

Developing the ability to regulate emotional reactions will reduce your risk of acting upon negative moods which may cause drama and disruption in your life. The brain registers feelings more quickly than thoughts so we are more likely to behave impulsively during heightened states of emotion.

Individuals who are able to wait for their emotions to settle before acting are more likely to respond to a situation based on a reason rather than feelings. Good self-regulation is evidenced by flexibility, reflection, introspection and comfort with change and uncertainty.

Social Skills

Social skills are important in many areas of life but are particularly vital in the workplace. Friendliness is only one small fraction of the abilities that make up good social skills. People with great social skills can network and bring people together (even when nobody seems to agree!).

They are a fantastic part of the team and can keep a group focused on the task at hand. Investigate an interviewee’s social skills with questions around group projects, managing others and achieving goals, working within teams and getting people on board.


Empathy works in tandem with social skills. While sympathy involves feeling bad for someone in a difficult situation, empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and taking those feelings into account when deciding a course of action.

This does not mean that the person is a pushover or overly sensitive. It simply means that when tough decisions have to be made, they are aware and considerate of the feelings and life situations of others. They are also open about their own concerns and fears and can find common ground with others.

Look for empathy in how the interviewee reacts to difficult emotional reactions from other people. Ask them to describe a time when a colleague was upset with them and how they dealt with the situation. They do not need to agree with their colleague’s reasons for being upset but they should show an awareness and understanding of the other person’s distress.


Emotionally intelligent people are dependent on being self-aware. Individuals with high levels of self-awareness are realistic and honest with themselves about their motivations, strengths and weaknesses.

Emotionally intelligent people understand their own emotions and can see how their feelings and behaviours influence their work, their colleagues and themselves. They are neither overly pessimistic nor optimistic and are conscious of their limitations. They also have plans for meeting their objectives and goals and have a deep understanding of their values.

When interviewing, assess how the person talks about themselves. Ask them to describe a difficult situation that they faced and how they dealt with it. Individuals with good self-awareness will be honest and frank without getting defensive about their actions. They may also use self-deprecating humour to describe the event and their reaction. Stalling, avoidance or frustration should be seen as red flags.


Investing time and effort in developing emotional intelligence is a sure-fire way to success. Although these skills take practice and self-reflection, it does pay off. You will find yourself better able to manage your team, cope with difficulties and excel in the workplace.

As an executive, you will be able to find the right people to make your team a force to be reckoned without a million and one squabbles and disputes along the way. So as you plan your career trajectory, be sure to include learning from emotionally intelligent people in your personal development plan. It may be unusual, but the benefits and outcomes will speak for themselves.

Would you like to tell us your opinion about the way emotionally intelligent people can become successful? Share in the comments below.

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