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Over the last several years, there’s been a lot of talk about Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Many cite this characteristic as an important, if not the most important, predictor of a person’s business success. While some say that EQ is an inborn trait, others believe it can be learned.
Recently, the TRACOM Group, a workplace performance company, developed a new model they call Behavioral EQ or BEQ which focuses on using EQ to manage behaviors and relationships. The theory is that if we can focus on managing our emotions and behaviors we can strengthen our EQ.
To learn more about BEQ I interviewed Natalie Wolfson, a member of TRACOM’s Research and Product Development team, who has contributed to the design and validation of various assessment and training tools. Before coming to TRACOM, Wolfson, worked as a research analyst on several government-funded grant projects.
Wolfson specializes in organizational training and development and has coauthored book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles around this topic. She will receive her PhD from Colorado State University in May 2014.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been in the news a lot of late. Can you tell our readers a little bit about EQ and Behavioral Emotional Intelligence (BEQ) and how they are different?
While emotional intelligence refers to how we perceive and understand our own emotions and the emotions of others, Behavior EQ is the behavioral manifestation of that awareness; it is our ability to use EQ to manage personal behavior and relationships.BEQ is perhaps the most important element because its competencies are visible to others. And, these qualities are all interrelated so working on behavioral skills will strengthen emotional skills as well.
What makes BEQ so important in the workplace?
Research shows that top professions require that employees have an IQ that is approximately one standard deviation above average or higher. After that, however, there really is no significant correlation between IQ and performance. The key distinguishing feature between performers with high IQ, who have the cognitive ability to grasp the technical skills of a job, is their BEQ. This is a broad competency that encompasses one’s ability to manage emotions and personal behavior; perceive and understand the emotions of others; and build relationships. Empirically, BEQ has been linked to increased performance, leadership, customer service interactions, and sales.
Can BEQ be applied to every work situation?
BEQ is relevant across a wide variety of work situations, but certain aspects of our BEQ model will be emphasized more heavily depending on the job or the work task. Certain professions are more social in nature (e.g., customer service representative) and may require that employees identify and understand the emotions of others and more effectively manage relationships. Other professions, those that are more solitary in nature (e.g., writer), may require that individuals maintain awareness and control of their own emotions and behavior.
BEQ seems to be a process, can you give our readers one thing that they can do today to improve their interactions at work?
One helpful tip is to keep a database of your contacts. This database can capture aspects of their lives that are important and enhance your memory for them. Develop a habit of reaching out to these people regularly just to check in and when you do not need anything from them. This will build good will and trust and make it more likely that future interactions will be positive.
I would also say that giving and helping others is very important. Think about giving in ways that are meaningful, that energize you, that utilize your unique strengths, and that have big benefits to others but perhaps do not require much effort on your part. For example, you might make an email introduction for a coworker or mentor a subordinate. Generosity builds social capital and brings many rewards in the long term.
It sounds like BEQ techniques – for example understanding your emotions – could be a big help in our personal lives as well. What is your take on that?
Yes, certainly these skills translate across work and home contexts. There’s a psychological concept scientists call “positive spillover,” according to which emotions, values, skills, and behaviors transfer between work and home domains and promote better overall role performance. Behaviors and skills learned at work influence more generally how one organizes and perceives new information and this thereby influences other roles.
As an example, one critical BEQ technique for understanding your emotions is knowing your emotions triggers – those things that result in you losing behavioral control. A full awareness of your triggers is crucial because it is the first step in managing your emotions. While listing these triggers is helpful for work, it is also an effective technique for your personal relationships. Triggers may be obvious (e.g., a partner who is condescending toward us) or subtle (e.g., a friend who chews with their mouth open). When you can identify these triggers, you can prepare for them. This applies across work and home domains.