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By: Padmanabhan Eangoor

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions and the emotions of the people around you, know the impact of those emotions, and manage them effectively to inspire people or to handle difficult situations.

People who have achieved excellent grades in school, the ones with high IQs (intelligence quotient), don’t necessarily go on to become top performers in their professional settings. Many professionals agree that more than the technical skills, the willingness to help others and the ability to put themselves in the other person’s shoes are important at the workplace, a feature concisely called “emotional intelligence.”

A person who ignores their surroundings to finish a task in time may be appreciated for that task. However, in the long run, the person who gives priority to helping a struggling team member with their task over meeting a deadline will be considered a more valuable team member.

Most jobs involve working as a team, and therefore individuals need to utilize people skills. The most successful people are the ones who understand the importance of people skills and continuously strive to refine them. We have all come across many soft skills, like managing, leadership, communication, problem-solving, etc., but we didn’t necessarily know that they are all driven by something complex, something that allows these skills to surface as needed. Emotional intelligence is that complex operator, the backbone of how you face a crisis, being optimistic and navigating your way out of it, and doing so by pleasing everyone at the same time.

Most people try to acquire soft skills but don’t achieve the professional edge they desire. This is because they are just trying to access the surface and ignoring what’s at the core. Emotional intelligence is the core, which cannot be ignored to understand what lies on the surface. Imagine a person who keeps trying to master new skills, one after the other, with much difficulty. And now imagine a person for whom acquiring these skills is a cake-walk. The only difference between them is that the second person at their core has the right mindset; they have emotional intelligence.

You can assess your emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) by reflecting upon a situation you were in, asking someone how you dealt with feeling in a critical situation, or by simply taking one of the free online EQ tests. As Gordon Tredgold, an expert on leadership, once said, “We get promoted because of our IQ and we get fired because of our lack of EQ.” Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be acquired, and the more you practice using your newly acquired emotional intelligence skills, the more the human brain rewires itself to make them your habits.

Emotional intelligence can be improved by widening the perspective of understanding others, practicing how to develop rational opinions in addressing social issues even if you are not directly involved with it, having an alternative plan should your best plan fail, practicing to stay poised in stressful situations, building trust and relationships by going beyond the call of duty, and being optimistic and understanding that giving up is the only failure.

I am not an expert on this topic, nor do I think that I have the highest EQ, but I am now aware of emotional intelligence, which is the first step toward becoming an emotionally intelligent person. Wouldn’t it be good to imagine the whole pharmaceutical community having high EQ?

Padmanahan (Paddy) Eangoor is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Mercer University. He develops HPLC-MS/MS and ELISA based methods for the quantitation of small and large molecules.