8 Misconceptions About Emotional Intelligence

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We’ve been talking a lot about Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or EQ for emotional quotient) lately – mainly what it is, how to develop it, and why it’s essential for business. But when the topic of emotional intelligence comes up, we find that many people have a lot of misconceptions about the subject (probably because the term “emotion” is generally associated with women and, therefore, somehow bad?). Here are some of the more common misconceptions we tend to get:

1. Emotional intelligence is all about being emotional

One of the biggest misconceptions is that emotionally intelligent people are overly emotional or sensitive. In reality, emotional intelligence is really about understanding and managing emotions in yourself and others. This understanding helps you make more sound, rational decisions (which is totally the opposite of being emotional).

2. It’s a fixed trait

Some people believe that emotional intelligence is something you are born with and cannot be developed. However, research has shown that EQ can be learned and improved through self-awareness, intentionality, and practice. Some people may be more naturally empathetic than others, but most people can hone their emotional intelligence skills.

3. Emotional intelligence means always being positive 

Toxic positivity is on the rise (and super annoying, tbh). Being emotionally intelligent does not mean being happy or positive all the time. It’s about acknowledging and understanding all emotions (including negative ones!) and using them effectively to navigate challenges.

4. It’s just about empathy 

Empathy is essential to emotional intelligence, but it’s not the only aspect. EQ also includes self-awareness, self-management, social skills, and motivation.

5. Emotional intelligence is solely for personal relationships 

Emotional intelligence is valuable in all aspects of life, including personal relationships. But in the workplace, research has shown that emotionally intelligent leaders contribute to employee well-being, retention, collaboration, and productivity.

6. Emotionally intelligent people don’t experience emotional struggles

If you’ve been paying even a gnats breath of attention, you’re well aware that everything is banoodles rn (aliens, anyone?). Even individuals with high emotional intelligence can go through emotional difficulties. The difference lies in their ability to recognize and manage these emotions constructively (I choose screaming into the void as a practice, but idk if that helps).

7. High emotional intelligence means being overly agreeable

Emotionally intelligent people are skilled at handling conflicts and difficult situations, but it doesn’t mean they avoid confrontation or always agree with others (don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing). They can express their opinions assertively while considering the feelings of others.

8. Emotional intelligence is a feminine trait

Emotions are integral to being human (even animals show complex emotions). Emotional intelligence is a human trait found in people of all genders. It has nothing to do with masculinity or femininity.

It’s important to understand and debunk these misconceptions to appreciate the significance of emotional intelligence and its potential impact on our lives, particularly at work. Developing emotional intelligence can lead to more fulfilling personal and professional relationships, better communication, improved decision-making, and increased overall well-being. To learn more about this, check out our Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace workshop in September. Register and save your spot here