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Why do those with high IQs often face difficulties in their career? Emotional Intelligence

Why do those with high IQs often face difficulties in their career? emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Research has highlighted the significance of emotional intelligence as being more important than IQ when it comes to success than other traits.

Key Takeaways

Popular belief holds that pure talent determines success; however, research suggests emotional capacity could also be an essential factor when identifying star performers.

emotional intelligence

You can cultivate the emotional intelligence necessary for this skill set, but first, you must have self-efficacy.

Yes, there is some truth to that statement. As measured by an IQ test (general intelligence), intelligence has been linked with positive outcomes such as educational attainment and life expectancy.

Cultural consciousness has evolved into the belief that IQ is the ultimate measure of intelligence. But this misconception is false: general intelligence isn’t synonymous with “absolute intelligence.” Instead, it tests capabilities within specific cognitive domains (perceptual reasoning and verbal comprehension). According to Jonny Thomson in Big Think:

“People often fail to comprehend this fact, believing IQ is simply the raw power of the brain. Additionally, some may mistakenly associate IQ with value; employers, in particular, could discredit an employee due to a low score on an IQ test. However, this approach fails to consider that employees may possess capabilities and skills beyond what can be measured through IQ tests.”

Contrary to popular belief, IQ may not even be the primary factor separating top performers from everyone else. Instead, emotional intelligence could play a significant role.

The capacity to work with emotional intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence has its roots in the 1930s. Abraham Maslow introduced it as “emotional strength,” while Howard Gardner included both inter and intrapersonal intelligence in his theories of different bits of intelligence. But it was Daniel Goleman – a psychologist and reporter – who brought it into public awareness with his 1995 bestseller book, “Emotional Intelligence, ” which would always define it.

Goleman’s theory was founded on research conducted by psychology experts Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1998, exploring emotional intelligence. They defined it broadly as the capacity to identify our own emotions and those of others, motivate ourselves accordingly, and manage emotions effectively within ourselves and with those with whom we share relationships.

He also highlighted the distinction between emotional and general intelligence, noting that while society often emphasizes intelligence as the main factor for success, this perception often neglects emotional intelligence’s importance in both the workplace and daily life. “Many smart students who lack emotional intelligence will often end up employed by individuals with lower IQs but who possess exceptional emotional skills,” Goleman observed.

Goleman discussed an article with Big Think that might explain this phenomenon. Researchers asked software engineers to assess their peers’ success at work and compare it with engineers’ IQ and emotional intelligence scores. Surprisingly, Goleman noted intelligence scores did not predict success (as judged by peers); however, emotional intelligence did correlate strongly.

In a separate study, researchers examined the performance of 286 companies to understand their connection to emotional intelligence. Most were located in America, while one-third were overseas. Of the 21 skills identified as essential for high-performing employees, 18 were linked with emotional intelligence, while others included analytical abilities, conceptual thinking, and technical proficiency.

Goleman noted that over 80 percent of general abilities that distinguish superior performers from average ones depend on one’s ability to express emotion.

What could this mean? According to Goleman in his interview, there will be an average IQ level for every job. Experienced software engineers tend to possess higher intelligence levels; without this specific knowledge and skill set, one may not even be considered qualified for the position.

However, this sentiment holds for all engineers you collaborate with. Intelligence no longer stands as the distinguishing factor between you and others; emotional intelligence allows you to build connections necessary for collaboration and control your emotions in trying times.

Goleman noted, “Code writing is no longer done in isolation.” Everyone on a project collaborates now – it’s a team effort.” To succeed in today’s tech industry, you need to have the capacity for collaboration, be persuasive when persuading others, and be an excellent team player.

“So when you consider it this way, it makes perfect sense that even in engineers, emotional intelligence can tell you who is a superstar and who is average.”

Meta-analyses also indicate that emotional intelligence is closely connected to well-being, job satisfaction, school performance, and life satisfaction. Therefore, there appears an emotional intelligence distinct from the general intellect, which has a direct correlation with numerous advantages.

Before we move forward, there are two significant caveats to consider: Researchers can’t precisely define emotional intelligence, and their measurement methods have limitations.

Let’s begin with emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence can be seen in two forms: either as a characteristic or an ability. Trait emotional intelligence assesses an individual’s capacity for managing things like self-control, well-being, and sociability through questionnaires; on the other hand, emotional intelligence refers to people’s capacity for recognizing emotional signals and responding appropriately at the moment.

Models that incorporate both qualities exist. Goleman’s definition of emotional intelligence suggests such a model should cover an expansive range of abilities and competencies, thus acting as an amalgam model. To further explain, these five pillars of emotional intelligence are:


 Being aware of how you feel and assessing your capabilities realistically.

Free Person Holding a White Flower Vase Stock Photo


Utilizing emotions to motivate you towards completion rather than interfering with it.

self regulation


Utilizing one’s preferences to drive you towards what you desire and help overcome obstacles.



Feeling what others feel and understanding their perspective of things.


Social Skills: 

Fostering relationships to foster cooperation and resolve disagreements.

Research remains unsure whether emotional bits of intelligence of ability and trait are interdependent or distinct entities. Some studies even suggest they cannot connect; tests designed to measure trait emotional intelligence often correlate better with standard personality models than their empathetic counterparts do.

A bubble diagram depicting the five major personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Studies suggest trait emotional intelligence correlates better with personality than ability emotional intelligence (credit: Serge Helfrich/Wikimedia Commons).

To the second part: Every model for measuring emotional intelligence has its limitations. Trait emotional intelligence can only be tested through questionnaires, whether self-reported or by a peer. Even self-reported questions designed to detect deliberate deceit can fall victim to self-deception; without self-awareness and awareness, how can you truly gauge your individual emotional intelligence?

Similar to peer-reported surveys, anonymous ones could also be compromised due to office politics. Employees may fear giving their boss a poor review or agree to rate each other highly, leading them to doubt how secure these surveys are.

Goldman notes that organizational, and political pressures make it more challenging for executives at the upper levels of management to receive candid evaluations. “Executives often remain isolated from evidence… as subordinates worry they will become resentful,” she writes.

Emotional intelligence tests aim to remove subjectivity through problem-based assessments. Think of IQ questions that test your emotions; for example, showing a photo of someone’s face and asking them to describe what they’re feeling or describing an event in social life and then asking which option would be most suitable in that scenario.

Though self-reporting has been eliminated, the problem of relationship and emotional issues remains. Do a person’s long eyes and slack stare indicate anger, anxiety, or pensiveness? It could mean any of those things or an amalgam of all three. Social strategies vary based on participants’ objectives, personalities, and the environment we live in.

Contrary to logic or math problems, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social or emotional difficulties.

Are You Able to Develop Your Emotional Ability?

These differences don’t indicate that emotional intelligence is a fad or unsubstantiated. Yet until more research is conducted and psychologists gain clarity on its nature and purpose, it may be challenging to pinpoint how best to cultivate and enhance it.

If you possess the capacity for emotional intelligence, improving it can be as effortless as practicing mindfulness. Emotional intelligence is more than a character trait, though; changing it requires not just changes in thinking and behavior but also how you view yourself. While this may be a higher-priority goal, research indicates it’s achievable.

In my opinion, you can develop emotional intelligence using Goleman’s five elements. If you’re considering making changes in your life, here are some ideas to get you started.


An effective way to develop self-awareness is to incorporate it into your daily activities. This could involve journaling or engaging in mindful meditation, as well as finding time to sit with your thoughts and ask yourself questions about yourself. To illuminate any weaknesses, you might have, ask close friends and family members for their honest opinions regarding areas where you might have been biased.


Self-awareness will help you improve your self-regulation skillset by helping you recognize and identify emotions, pinpoint their sources, and craft strategies to manage them more efficiently. If your emotions start getting in the way of working effectively, take some time out to talk them over with yourself.


It can lift your spirit and help you realize that your problems aren’t necessarily due to any flaws in yourself; sometimes, they’re part of the daily struggles we all endure.


Are you having trouble staying motivated at work or feeling bored at work? Your state of mind could indicate that you have become disengaged from your goals. This puts you in a vulnerable position to experience and suffer failures. Take this as a cue to explore ways to become more aligned with personal preferences and objectives.

“To truly live, we must engage our minds,” James Danckert and John D. Eastwood Eastwood wrote in their book “Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom,” to express our needs and utilize abilities and capabilities. We all crave agency; when this need is fulfilled and fulfilled, we feel fulfilled – bliss. But if not, boredom sets in and leads to feelings of disconnectedness,” they concluded.


One way to deepen your understanding is by engaging in what Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, calls “radical curiosity.” This method requires asking about someone, listening carefully to what they say, and being interested in knowing more about them. Doing this will give you a newfound respect for both the person, their difficulties, and their perspective.

Research suggests reading fiction helps foster empathy. As you read a novel, your mind becomes illuminated by the emotions experienced by the character in the story.

Social Skills

Social skills, which stem from cooperation and conflict resolution, are built upon the four pillars mentioned previously. Curiosity allows you to discover more about coworkers while coming up with ways to collaborate effectively. Self-regulation and self-awareness may give you strategies for keeping calm during disputes.

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