Emotional Intelligence (often referred to as EI or EQ) can be a fluffy term and not always simple to grasp. It refers to a person's capacity to both identify and regulate emotions in themselves or others. Those with high EI are able to recognize, understand, manage and reason with emotions, which they can then leverage to manage their own behaviour and relationships. As Dr. Travis Bradberry has put it "Emotional intelligence is the 'something' in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results." There is no shortage of documentation and articles advocating the importance of emotional intelligence in all areas of life, so we thought we'd investigate the benefits an IT contractor can reap with enhanced EI, specifically in the job search and while working.
How Emotional Intelligence Will Improve Your Job Search
Emotional intelligence becomes truly important for the IT contractor during the interview stage of your job search. Your skills and experience will help you sail through the technical evaluation, but EI is the piece that will help you build a connection with recruiters and non-technical hiring managers. These are the folks who, as much as they understand the value of your ability to do the job, are also ensuring you will fit into the team and work well with others. Here are a few ways you can answer questions and describe past experiences in a job interview to highlight your emotional intelligence:
Show your ability to manage negative emotions by moving past bad experiences on past contracts. That means refraining from talking badly about previous clients or situations and focusing on the positive aspects.
Truly understand your strengths and weaknesses. Know how to communicate the areas you where excel and humbly accept the skills where you fall short.
Provide examples of times you accepted feedback and criticism and used it as a challenge to improve yourself.
Accept responsibility for areas that went wrong on a previous project without placing blame on other team members. Explain how you learned from your mistakes.
Take time to learn more about your interviewer and the position. Share their enthusiasm in what they do so you can build a connection with them.
How Emotional Intelligence Will Make You a Better IT Contractor
In 2012, a CareerBuilder survey showed that 71% of employers value emotional intelligence over IQ. Employers would rather hire people who have high EI than who are smart. Specifically, emotional intelligence is increasingly important for technology professionals for a myriad of reasons, some of them being:
It helps you get along with others. Tech workers regularly interact with non-technical people. The need to connect on a level where you can explain various concepts is crucial and emotional intelligence makes it happen.
It gives you job security. More and more we hear about how artificial intelligence and automation will steal our jobs. For the time being, these technologies still lack the human connection, including emotional intelligence.
It improves your decision making. By understanding others, and more importantly, yourself, you can push past biases and understand the emotions driving a situation to make decisions that are subjective and will be accepted by others.
It gets you through conflict. Your job as an IT contractor is to be the expert in an area. Naturally, with that turn comes conflict within your team and with your client's employees. Emotional intelligence forms a sought-after leadership trait to work through conflict calmly and find solutions that work for everyone.
It means you can work well under pressure. The ability to control your emotions, listen and cooperate with others, all while understanding their emotions means you will be a prime candidate to lead a team through crisis and short timelines.
The great thing about EQ versus IQ is that emotional intelligence can be developed purposefully. There are a number of books and resources available that are worth researching if you're seriously interested in improving yours. To get started, experts recommend reducing your stress levels as stress is known to mask your ability to tap into your emotions. From there, take some time to recognize your own emotions and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as read social cues to read into others' nonverbal communications.