When it comes to IQ, we often think about acing algebra or being crowned Spelling Bee champ. But academics are now rethinking how we measure our smarts - shifting their focus to emotional intelligence, or EQ.
Researchers from TalentSmart have found that 90 per cent of society's high performers have an elevated EQ - and they earn nearly $30,000 more every year on average.
So how can you tell if you're emotionally gifted and is it possible to sharpen your smarts?
"Emotional intelligence is really about how we identify and manage our emotions," said psychologist Sabina Read. "We can nurture these, and increase our EQ - so it's not a fixed point for us, but something that we can continue to work with.
"EQ includes being able to think about feelings instead of just experiencing them. It's also understanding that all emotions pass. That's important because we don't feel 'stuck' in any one emotion. We welcome feedback, particularly even criticism from others - and also practice empathy or offer apologies and identify our accountability when things go wrong."
Anyone can access knowledge and information, but how we interact with other humans is what sets us apart from others.
Boosting your EQ
If you want to boost your emotional intelligence, our psychologist suggests the following tips to start with.
"It's important to be curious and understand our feelings," Read said. "Also cut back on the caffeine. Caffeine triggers our adrenaline, which triggers our fight or flight response. When we're in a fight or flight state, we're not in tune with our emotions - so anything that triggers too much adrenaline is going to keep us out of touch with our emotions. Focus on your thinking, because our thinking affects our feelings, and our feelings affect our behaviour. So we have to be in tune with the way we think."
IQ versus EQ
When it comes to the importance of IQ versus EQ, Read says it's a "no brainer" - and EQ wins, hands down.
"When you think about the way we operate in life, it doesn't matter how much we know - it's what we share with others that helps us navigate challenges and find success," Read said.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Edition.