In business there is almost a universal understanding that emotional intelligence and IQ are both important attributes of strong performers. Yet to ensure we are all on the same page, let’s define “emotional intelligence.” According to John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, two of the leading researchers in this area, “Emotional intelligence refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotion and their relationships and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. Emotional intelligence is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions, and manage them.” In short, emotional intelligence is the set of skills that defines how effectively people perceive, understand, reason with and manage their own and others’ feelings.

Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence – Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” said, ‘there is intelligence in the emotions (and) intelligence can be brought to emotions.’ To be successful in business, people must be smart about their emotions and those of others. Most of us would probably have to admit that there have been times our emotions have gotten the better of us, leading to an in-the-moment decision that we later regretted. On the other hand, we also know people who communicate by facts alone and never engage the emotional buy-in for decisions. Either extreme leaves business interactions flat and less successful than they could be.

To that point, Mr. Goleman found that “Of the competencies required for excellence in performance, 67 percent are emotional competencies.” Fast company agrees: “Companies can continue to give top priority to financial performance – but many now also realize that technical and intellectual skills are only part of the equation for success. A growing number of organizations are now convinced that people’s ability to understand themselves and manage their emotions improves their performance, their collaboration with colleagues, and their interaction with customers.”

EQ is more important today than ever before. More and more of our work is being done in teams, across functions, and globally. Thus, EQ skills such as team problem solving, diversity awareness, flexibility, and influence are emerging as key pre-requisites for success. All of us can enhance our ability to recognize and understand our emotions and the emotions of others. People who are self aware and can read the emotional responses of others are more effective, productive and successful in the 21st century workforce.

So, how can we increase emotional intelligence (EQ)? First, we must increase our self-awareness. We need to identify and understand our emotional responses. Second, we need to improve our self-management by choosing our response, rather than being hijacked by our emotions. Third, we must increase our social awareness by reading body language and meaning behind the words of others. Active listening and empathy are key skills. Finally, we must improve our relationship management. This calls for openness, transparency, and curiosity. It entails seeing things from another person’s perspective.