The Importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Over Cognitive Intelligence (IQ) in Life and Business.

Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to manage emotions well in yourself and recognize others’ emotional needs” (Mallory, 2015). This immediately implies a sense of compassion as well as one’s ability to self-reflect. Self-reflection, arguably, can be the key to one’s personal growth both internally and with one’s interaction with other external factors. People are often labelled by their level of intelligence, referred to as one’s IQ. It will become clear that placing people into categorised boxes of this particular type of intelligence is less than effective, and people should be more focused on one’s EQ instead. Emotions are mental reactions, such as anger or joy, that a person is conscious of (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016), and it is one’s level of consciousness and awareness that can allow someone to grow, lead, succeed, and resolve internal and external conflicts. Contrary to popular belief, emotional intelligence should be considered a more relevant quotient upon categorizing people in many fields including personal health, the workplace and social relationships.

Today, there is a much larger understanding of how EQ (emotional intelligence) is oftentimes more important than IQ (cognitive intelligence). IQ has been used to determine how people will do in life (Cherry, 2018). Whether they will be “successful” or not has been a big part of that. However, with more attention being paid on people’s EQ, we begin to witness a shift in importance. Psychologist Gardner has suggested that there are several different kinds of intelligence, and to narrow that down to a single general ability is ineffective. Several more experts believe that understanding and showing emotions is equally, if not more, important in determining how people succeed in life (Cherry, 2018).

Personal Health

Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in building a positive attitude; additionally, being aware of one’s emotional state also helps maintain good physical health. Self-improvement is a common desire among humans, but this involves understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses (Staughton, 2016). Studying one own’s mind is an exercise of good emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence activates coping processes, promoting adaption and one’s ability to remain positive (Davis and Humphrey, 2015). The following paper will describe all the ways in which emotional intelligence works to wards self-awareness, the understanding of others, maintaining relationships, being motivated, exercising leadership, and mediating disputes. The combination of these abilities plays a significant role with one’s mental health, it allows them a certain level of control and understanding with how they are feeling.

Results of many studies the link between emotional intelligence and psychological and physical health, and they show that emotional intelligence is a better indicator for mental health (Abascal and Diaz, 2015). Emotions do, however, have a tendency to manifest themselves physically. While emotional intelligence does not completely affect physical health, certain aspects of it do overlap. Studies have shown the relationship between emotional stress and hormonal and biological activity. People who are able to perceive their moods can cope with stressful situations. This manifests in something as simple as the steadiness of one’s blood pressure to the control of addictions (i.e. to nicotine or alcohol) and the maintenance of health regimens (Staughton, 2017). Rhythms of behaviour and their consequence on one’s physical health are linked to emotional intelligence, one’s awareness of their situation, and a level of responsibility over their own welfare (Staughton, 2017).

The Workplace

Emotional intelligence in the workplace manifests through leadership, motivation, and conflict resolution. Leadership is based on the ability to understand the emotional diversity of group members and utilize them to create one strong team. Leaders who have a sense of awareness emotionally no doubt are able to reduce conflict and build relationships, and these two assets are absolutely essential in business and within the workplace. Developing emotional intelligence ultimately boosts one’s performance, productivity, team-building, and ability to work well with others (Mallory, 2015). In 1998, psychologist Daniel Goleman published an article stating the importance of emotional intelligence in business leadership. He states that IQ and other technical skills are simply entry-level requirements, and “emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership” (Ovans, 2015). A person can have all levels of training and technical understanding, and they would be smart, but they would not have what it takes to be a leader. Leadership becomes a part of one’s biology: defined by their capacity to self-regulate, be self-aware, motivate themselves and others, exercise empathy, and manage relationships (Ovans, 2015). Leading with emotional intelligence also means that one would have a larger influence over others. Strong-arming people to take on duties and responsibilities lacks tact and motivation because the other person’s emotional response is not being taken into account. Being emotionally intelligent means that others are more likely to be influenced by one’s ideas, vision, and mission (Mallory, 2015). In a survey we conducted online on Typeform, we realized that 87% of the total respondents believe that higher EQ related to better leadership skills. (Appendix- question 9).

Emotional intelligence also creates an inner motivation that helps an individual focus on his/her goal. This is also part of one’s self-development in the workplace. The effect one has on others is ultimately just as important as the effect one has on themselves. As mentioned above, one’s mental and physical health are affected by emotional intelligence, so growing emotionally also motivates someone to grow in their respective careers. The motivation to be emotionally intelligent is also important. It involves facing difficult emotions and understanding how to deal with them. Through recognition of one’s inner self, they are only able to grow externally, and this will rub off on those around them.

“A good negotiator encourages all parties to speak. A great negotiator encourages all parties to listen” (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016). Here is where emotional dimension finds its place in conflict resolution. Understanding people’s needs and desires, which is only achieved through a high EQ, makes an individual a better negotiator and more able to resolve conflicts. A successful negotiator will consider several aspects, including economic, political, physical, and, most effectively, emotional components of the dispute. In arguments and the process of negotiating, people are often advised to detach the people from the issue at hand (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016). This, however, disregards the harsh truth that people are often the main cause of the problem. Both emotional and rational elements are necessary in negotiation. They compliment and feed off the other. To disregard the physical truth and focus on pure emotional tact would be harmful. That being said, to disregard emotional elements (i.e. the opposition’s character and feelings regarding the issue as well as the mediator’s level of self-awareness) and focus on the dry, observable elements alone would be just as harmful (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016).

Social Relationships

In addition to the above, emotional intelligence allows an individual to regard others as human beings with insecurities and faulty behaviors. Understanding this idea is a key requirement for developing interpersonal relationships. Just as emotional intelligence is important in building relationships in the workplace, it is just as important at home and in other social settings. Having a good emotional intelligence can improve one’s relationships by making them a better communicator and exercising empathy and understanding. The awareness of another person’s level of comfort in their body language, eye-contact, and responsiveness is an important reading in a social interaction. Interacting with others in appropriate ways, recognising emotional needs, and being engaging both socially and intellectually are full-proof ways of creating relationships, and doing so with high levels of respect and compassion is a sign of a high EQ (Staughton, 2016). Recognising others’ needs is fundamental to strengthening familial and friendship bonding. To prove this point, 62% of survey participants thought that a high EQ makes the relationship with your family better (Appendix- question 7).

Counterargument A and Refutation

Certainly, people who have a high IQ are more likely to succeed academically. This would depend on the academic subject at hand, but it is also perceived as a general truth because the academic world is made up of tests similar to the IQ test. It was shown that 58% of respondents thought that IQ is a more accurate quotient than EQ (Appendix- question 5). To begin with, IQ is a number resulting from a very general, very standardised test. Psychologists believe that IQ scores do not include human intelligence in its various aspects (Cherry, 2018). It is important to remember that school and university is also full of social interactions and experiences and that those experiences also shape students and people. It is also important to keep in mind those who do and do not have access to certain levels of education. It is likely that someone would have a low IQ had they never been exposed to a similar testing system. In that case, why should this particular quotient be used to determine their level of success or failure in life? IQ tests, thus, are not so full-proof.

IQ was once seen as the main determinant of success, but researches have come to debate the influence of genes and the environment on one’s IQ (the “nature vs nurture argument). It became clear that being smart was no guarantee for success; it is simply to narrow of a determinant and judging someone based on a specific type of intelligence severely neglects other forms of intelligence that person may possess (Cherry, 2018). IQ is still regarded as important, and correlations show that those with high IQs fare well at school, but experts and researches are now focused on the “complex array of influences”, that include emotional intelligence, playing a role in one’s life, relationships, and successes.

Counterargument B and Refutation

Some argue that there is no correlation between EQ and business results. However, succeeding in the business world requires high emotional intelligence since it is not simply about “book smartness”, but about everyday social interactions. Some may argue that in a business negotiation, the presence of emotions may distract attention from the matters at hand, that emotions open people up to potential manipulation, that emotions hinder rationality, or that emotions can easily control a person (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016). However, the awareness of how another person is feeling (as well as one’s self) can allow one to understand someone’s needs as well as interests, which is a great strength in an argument. A good example to mention would be that of an insurance company that discovered the usefulness of EQ in sales success. Agents with low EQ’s came to a selling average of $54,000. Those with high EQ’s sold policies of an average of $114,000. Emotional capability also influences the choices a customer will make in a sale situation. People will always want to deal with someone they like and/or trust (Cherry, 2018).

One cannot be completely unemotional in business. To say so would be to deny that emotions exist. They are always present. Certainly, emotions are far from easy to deal with, but they certainly are a defining element within business and negotiation (Kelly and Kaminskienė, 2016). As seen above, emotional intelligence becomes important when it comes to leadership, motivation, and conflict resolution. Additionally, credibility is absolutely key in business. This involves managing one’s emotions by practicing self-awareness and being in control of one’s relationships.



It becomes abundantly clear emotional intelligence is by far more important than IQ. To build a kinder, more cooperative society, it is necessary to spread awareness and awaken societies on the significance of determining the emotional quotient. When one leads with emotional intelligence, they are aware that they are being seen, that they are exercising a certain vulnerability by being open to their emotions as well as those of others. This is a show of great strength both within and outside the workplace. It builds trust and motivation. It is also, ethically speaking, the best way to move forward in business and social relationships. A high level of EQ cannot be abused or used for manipulation because of its very existence. It involves empathy, allowing a person to make decisions not solely based on the need for personal advancement, but for that of those around them as well. This paper has explored the importance of one’s EQ in a number of fields. This is not to devalue the importance of IQ, as technical skill can certainly be crucial in several situations (i.e. basic skills in the workplace), but simply to highlight the invaluableness of emotional intelligence. Also, with EQ, there is always room for growth and in no way does it categorise people into a box based on the privilege they may or may not have had growing up.

 Jana Dakkour
Héléna Saadeh
English 204/ Section 18
 American University of Beirut


Cherry, K. (2018). IQ or EQ: Which One Is More Important? Very Well Mind.

Davis, S.K. and Humphrey, N. (2012). The influence of emotional intelligence (EI) on coping and mental health in adolescence: Divergent roles for trait and ability EI.  Journal of Adolescence, 35(5): pp. 1369-1379.

Fernández-Abascal, E. G., and Martín-Díaz, M. D. (2015). Dimensions of emotional intelligence related to physical and mental health and to health behaviors. Frontiers in Psychology6, 317.

Kelly, E.J and Kaminskienė, N. (2016). Importance of emotional intelligence in negotiation and mediation. International Comparative Jurisprudence, pp. 55–60.

Mallory, D. (2015). Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Run Your Family Business. Entrepreneur Middle East.

Ovans, A. (2015). How Emotional Intelligence Became a Key Leadership Skill. Harvard Business Review.

Staughton, John. (2016). What’s the Difference Between EQ And IQ? Science ABC.

Staughton, John. (2017). Can Emotional Intelligence Affect Physical Health? Science ABC.


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