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Why Being Genuine Is More Important Than Having High EQ On The Road To Success

Why Being Genuine Is More Important Than Having High EQ On The Road To Success

In 1990, psychologists Peter Salovey at Yale and John Mayer at the University of New Hampshire introduced the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). More than two decades later today, EQ is taught widely in secondary schools, medical schools and business schools because it is an essential component for performance at work and overall success in life.

Some of the most distinguished individuals in history are celebrated because of their great emotional intelligence. Take Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example. When he delivered his famous speech about his dream for America, he chose language that would tug at the hearts of people and stir emotions.

“America has given the Negro people a bad check,” King thundered, However, this land, “sweltering with the heat of oppression,” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice,” he said. King dreamed of a future in which “on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Delivering this electrifying speech required emotional intelligence—an ability to recognize, arouse, and manage passions and emotions. Dr. King’s speech became one of the most powerful in history because he managed his own feelings magnificently and aroused the emotions of multitudes, prompting them into action. As his speechwriter Clarence Jones writes, King delivered “a perfectly balanced outcry of reason and emotion, of anger and hope. His tone of pained indignation matched that note for note.”

When you are even a fraction of this good at controlling your own emotions, you can easily disguise your true feelings if you wanted to. When you know how to arouse people’s passions, you can tug at their heartstrings and incite them to act against their own best interests.

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As you can deduce, being emotionally intelligent and able to read people, to stir up emotions can be used for good or evil.

The dark side of emotional intelligence

When people have self-serving motives, EQ can be a weapon for manipulating others. This statement is true in our personal relationships as it is in our professional relationships. From a leadership perspective, this fact becomes clear when you juxtapose Dr King and another highly influential leader of the 20th century who spent years studying the emotional effects of his body language.

Tirelessly rehearsing his speeches, practicing his hand gestures, and analyzing images of his overall body movements on stage allowed him to become “an absolutely spellbinding public speaker,” says historian Roger Moorhouse—“it was something he worked very hard on.”

This man was Adolf Hitler.

One observer noted that Hitler’s persuasive impact came from his ability to strategically express emotions. He would “tear open his heart”. These emotions affected his followers to the point that they would “stop thinking critically and just emote.”

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In light of these two opposite extremes, you can see why it is important that we stop assuming emotional intelligence is always good. We need to recognize that EQ is “morally neutral”  – which is something we already know at a subliminal level, especially in today’s society full of phony fads, media hype, and personal brands.

Besides, people don’t usually accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value anyways. We want to know that what you are saying or doing is genuine. In other words, we want to know that your emotions and actions are authentic. EQ alone doesn’t guarantee you will succeed. You also need to be genuine to be truly successful.

Genuine people ultimately triumph

According to a study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington led by Christina Fong, sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.

In case you’re wondering, “genuine” means actual, real, honest,and sincere. Genuine people are pretty much the same on the inside as their behavior is on the outside. Unfortunately, it’s tough to discern whether someone is genuine. However, you can always do a quick check to identify this rare quality – in yourself, as well as in others – by comparing projected ideas or behavior with that of people who are highly genuine.

1. They are consistent.

Since they are in touch with their true emotions and have no real need to pretend, genuine people are predictable… in a good way. What you see is more or less what you get.

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2. They don’t tend to exaggerate or overreach.

They are honest and straightforward. They won’t parse their words or sugarcoat the truth.

3. They practice what they preach.

They are not likely to advise people to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. They actually tend to lead by example.

4. They are not boastful.

Exhibiting pompous and elevated airs is a charade. Genuine people are humble and have no desire to brag about their abilities and or strengths.

5. They are not overly modest.

Just because they are humble doesn’t mean they are timid. Genuine people are real. They don’t exhibit false modesty.

6. They are not thin-skinned.

They don’t take themselves too seriously. That means genuine people don’t take offense when none is intended.

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7. They forge their own paths.

They don’t follow others blindly, nor do they derive their sense of worth, pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. Genuine people create their own way.

Conclusion

Ultimately, a genuine person is his or her own person—true to themselves. This honesty is one of the key ingredient for success. Nobody wants to work or hang out with a phony. Authenticity is what qualifies EQ.

Featured photo credit: astarot via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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