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Improve your emotional intelligence so you can understand clients

JUN. 18, 2018

Beginning in 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence. In their influential article “Emotional Intelligence,” they defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.1 Simply stated…EI is the ability to manage oneself and get along with other people.

EQ is a cut above the rest

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ states, “In a study of skills that distinguish star performers in every field, from entry-level jobs to executive positions, the single most important factor was not IQ, advanced degrees, or technical experience. It was EQ.” Of the competencies required for excellence in performance in the job studied, 67% were emotional competencies.

Goleman additionally found the competencies that separate a star performer from an average one fall into one of three domains. Technical skills, purely cognitive abilities, and abilities in the emotional intelligence range. He also states that for individuals in leadership positions, 85% of their competencies are in the EI domain.2

IQ and success

Let’s set the stage by first looking at IQ, our Intelligence Quotient, our ability to learn. IQ is not flexible. In fact, IQ is nearly fixed at birth. Some studies suggest that IQ contributes 10-20% to factors that contribute to life success, and performance, which leaves quite a bit to other forces.3

On the other hand, EI is not dependent on personality or IQ, cognitive intelligence, aptitude, achievement, interests, or personality. There is no known connection between IQ and EI. EI can’t be predicted based on how smart someone is.

Emotional intelligence is:

  • Intangible
  • A flexible skill
  • Not static – EI CAN be learned and developed
  • Being smart with feelings

Defining emotional intelligence

According to notable researchers Travis Bradberry and Jean Graves in their book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, there are four components of EI.

  • Self-Awareness – This is the ability to correctly distinguish your own emotions in the moment and know your reaction trends in circumstances.
  • Self-Management – what happens when you act, or do not act. Self-management is built upon the foundation of self- awareness. It depends on your self-awareness and uses the awareness of your emotions to choose what you say and do. With self-management, you stay flexible and direct your behavior positively by responding, not falling into emotions running wild and letting them control you.
  • Group Awareness – Your ability to perceive emotions in other people and situations as well as understand what is really going on with them. In an individual’s practice, group awareness leads to the ability to grasp the customer’s perspective, possibly helping in a more meaningful way.
  • Relationship Management – Your impact on others. Relationship management is particularly impactful in winning people over. It can often lead to collaboration and cooperation.

Strengthening your EI

Our brains are hardwired to give emotions the upper hand.4 By practicing EI, the connection between feelings and your reason (emotional and rational centers of the brain) is strengthened. The more you think about what you are feeling, and do something productive with that, more you develop those pathways.


  • 1

    Salovey P, Mayer J. Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. 1990

  • 2

    Bressert, S. (2007). What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?. Psych Central. Retrieved from

  • 3

    Emotional Intelligence for Financial Planners – Randy Braidfoot, MS, CFP, CDFA and Dr. Andree C. Swanson, EdD, MHR, MAOM; White Paper 1205; 9/24/2012

  • 4

    Bradberry, Travis, and Jean Greaves. Emotional Intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart, 2009.