Emotional Intelligence: Behavior is Everything

    After decades of research and usage, businesses have called for a model of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that is focused on the most important aspects of EQ and that is measured specifically for a work context. This new generation of EQ emphasizes translating EQ awareness into behaviors-”the outward actions that others notice and respond to and which create objective, measurable benefits.

    These behaviors are the best predictors of job performance and success. In addition, measures that are more focused are better for training and development because they’re a manageable set of skills to work on. So, we now distinguish between Emotional Intelligence, which is emotion awareness, recognition, and understanding, and Behavioral Intelligence (BEQ), which represents skills you practice that directly influence others and your own effectiveness.

    At this point, a chart will help draw distinctions between the two models.

    Emotional Intelligence (Internal):

    • Ability to perceive and understand one’s own emotions and the emotions of others

    • Having insight into oneself, and awareness and empathy for others


    • Emotional Awareness

    • Self-insight

    • Self-confidence


    • Emotional Perception

    • Empathy/Openness

    • Listening

    Behavioral Intelligence (Observable):

    • Ability to recognize the impact that emotions have on one’s own behavior and the behavior of others

    • Ability to use this awareness to manage personal behavior and relationships


    • Self-control

    • Stress Management

    • Conscientiousness

    • Optimism


    • Building Relationships

    • Influencing Others

    • Motivating Others

    • Flexibility

    • Innovativeness

    EQ is completely internal -“ it is a person’s ability to understand his own emotions and recognize the emotions of others. Therefore, EQ can be thought of as preceding Behavioral Intelligence. It might be helpful to practice EQ, but it is difficult to observe.

    Behavioral Intelligence is what people see, hear and respond to. The research clearly shows that behavior is the best predictor of effectiveness. While it’s good and maybe even necessary to have emotional awareness, unless this awareness is translated into behavior, it is rather pointless. For example, a manager may be aware that someone on his team is struggling with the workload and also needs some development, but if the manager doesn’t do anything with this awareness and lets the employee languish without taking steps to help him, then the awareness doesn’t do either any good.

    There have been well-documented examples of the importance of EQ from many spheres of life, including work life in both the private and public sectors. One example comes from an international petroleum company that wanted to understand what differentiated superior from average performers across a number of job roles, and in particular people who had to operate in an international environment. What they found were ten core skills that differentiated these people, and seven of those skills were Behavioral EQ skills. These results were achieved in an industry where soft skills have not been historically valued; people are hired and almost always promoted based on their technical abilities. The study showed that people’s EQ gave “traction” to their technical abilities and high intelligence. Traction is a good way to describe how EQ works in relation to other abilities; it empowers a person to use the skills and intellect he or she already possesses to work more effectively with others.

    Though some people are naturally better at certain EQ behaviors than others, the good news is that research clearly demonstrates that Behavioral EQ skills can be learned. Working on just one Behavioral EQ skill at a time, such as “influencing others,” can significantly improve performance. Because our brains are “plastic,” they can be rewired by consistent action. This seems like a paradox, since people believe high EQ is necessary to demonstrate good behavioral skills, but when we change how we behave, that eventually changes how we think.

    Perhaps the most interesting phenomenon here is that of the “spill-over effect.” Working on one skill actually influences people’s perceptions of a person’s abilities in other areas. So, if a person decides to work on building relationships, others begin to respond to that person differently, and they will also perceive that coworker as more creative or optimistic, for instance. Training in Behavioral EQ is useful initially to help people understand the concepts and gain strategies for the specific actions they can take every day in light of their particular work context.

    As companies seek to develop their existing talent and increase productivity while working within tight budgets, Behavioral EQ has emerged as a proven way to quickly improve the performance of individuals and their organizations. And Behavioral EQ skills are objective, measurable benefits associated with increased sales, better recruiting, effective leadership and high customer service. Developing these skills makes individuals and their organizations more productive and effective.

    Casey Mulqueen, Ph.D. is the director of Research & Product Development at The TRACOM Group, a workplace productivity and leadership development company located in Centennial, Colo. Casey can be reached at [email protected].