Emotional Intelligence


Scientific research identifies that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a factor in predicting work performance where regular interpersonal contact with people in involved; something that is central to policing, at least in the UK. It’s also central to any working role where people deal with people.

Emotions are at the forefront of our every-day lives, including playing key roles in our working and personal relationships. Those who can better manage their emotions, particularly in the workplace, on a proactive rather than reactive basis, may note improved work performance and enhanced working relationships with colleagues and clients.

Whether you are in the police service or leaving the service, having higher levels of Emotional Intelligence can serve you well in just about any working environment. Whilst cognitive intelligence (IQ) is often considered to be a good judge of one’s basic level of intelligence, EQ is a greater predictor of success. Following extensive research, EQ appears to account significantly more than IQ as to why people do well in organisations and demonstrate their potential to excel in their role and achieve promotions, often to senior positions. EQ is therefore an excellent benchmark for career success. The good news is that whilst IQ tends to be static throughout a person’s lifetime, EQ is something that can be developed.

You may have wondered why some of the brightest people you know, perhaps those coming top of their class, don’t all end up in great jobs with great careers. They may be lacking on their emotional finesse; the ability to deal with and engage with people in a positive way. Being very intelligent i.e. high IQ, doesn’t make a lot of difference if you cannot figure out what state of mind a person is in, whether they are happy or sad and basically what approach you should take with them. If you have ever seen the US box-set, Alias (2001-2006), you will recall Marshall, the CIA’s high-tech IT guy, who’s own level of intellect far surpasses anyone else on the team, but his ability to put his foot in his mouth and not be able to sense when to ‘shut up’ lets him down all the time. Have you seen a similar scenario in your workplace? Being sensitive to what’s going around you and tuned in emotionally can really help gauge a situation, allowing you to know when and what to say or do and when and what not to.

According to Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves “The link between EQ and earnings is so direct that every point increase in EQ equals £1,200 to an annual salary. If that’s not enough, EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs.” 

Emotions can provoke and direct our thinking to include actions that are realistic and appropriate— even saving our lives and the lives of others. But when they are unmanaged and out of control, emotions can take over our reasoning and logic, pushing us to carry out actions or say things that in the cold light of day, we can live to regret. How often have you made a bad decision because you were feeling somewhat emotional? Have you ever hit ‘reply’ to that email you were offended by, sending off a nasty retort in an instant, only to feel embarrassed when you check your ‘sent box’ the next day when you are no longer in that emotional state? We’ve all been there and done it at some point, but the key to mastering your emotions and developing your EQ is to be able to understand more about how you are feeling (emotionally) and react in a manner as if those emotions were not controlling your reaction or response. Think about “Counting to 10” for example – Something that Zinedine Zidane didn’t manage to do in the 2006 football World Cup final.

Perhaps you are starting to see why EQ can help you at work, at home and even in your quest to pick up a new career and start afresh? It can be the difference between just being like ‘everyone else’ or having more of the ability to manage yourself in an enhanced way.

As a police officer, to more effectively protect and serve, it’s in our interest to learn to appropriately monitor our own and other’s emotions and use this knowledge to guide our thinking, actions and decision making. To understand yourself and others in a more empathetic way i.e. ‘Why are they (or why am I) behaving like that?” can help defuse situations. Emotionally Intelligent people can have a greater sense of social awareness and pick up on the feelings and emotions, not only of themselves, but others around them.

Policing makes significant emotional demands on officers who are often required to deal with numerous situations while maintaining their composure and assessing the events around them, which can be unique and dynamic. Now consider the unfamiliarity of a new role and how you might be feeling during the first three months as you settle in. What emotions might you be feeling and how might you best manage them to your benefit?

You could be forgiven for having thought that EQ is about hugging trees, patting people on the back, smiling and being all friendly with one another. Afterall, it’s concepts and prevalence have still not reached all corners of the workplace. No, EQ is an asset and a tool that you can use to good effect to improve yourself and how you perform. To enhance your emotional responses and actions to situations that you may have previously succumbed. If you occasionally find yourself opening your mouth and engaging it before thinking through the consequences, then developing your EQ could be of value to you.

Generally, since the mid-1990s, businesses and many private organisations have come to see the value gained by developing EQ in employees. Dr. Reuven Bar-On is one of the leading pioneers and researchers in the field of emotional and social intelligence. His development of the subject has created 5 main (composite) scales for measurement, with each of these having three subscales. These include:

Self-perception- an understanding of one’s inner-self in terms of how, when, and why various emotions impact thinking and behaviour.

Self-expression- one’s focus on self-direction and openness to expressive communication of feelings and thoughts that are both constructive and socially appropriate.

Interpersonal- using compassion and trust to build and maintain relationships at the same time recognising and having concern for others’ viewpoints.

Decision Making- understanding how emotions influence and affect decisions; including impulse control and objectivity to leverage problem solving, absent rash behaviour.

Stress Management- coping with emotions that readily come with change or vague and unclear situations. The ability to remain confident, optimistic, and resilient among VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) chaos challenges.

So, we’ve established that Emotional Intelligence is not a ‘touchy feely, be nice to everyone and get walked all over by others’ type of thing. How best then can we describe it to the uninitiated? Leading subject matter experts will tell you that EQ is the demonstration of competencies that make up self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills at appropriate times and in ways of enough frequency to be effective in the situation (Daniel Goleman, 1995, 1998). The key to making positive change for yourself is to understand that social and emotional intelligence skills can be utilised to good effect in work and in personal lives. These skills can be learned, improved and put into everyday practice.

You may undertake an EQ assessment and find out where you currently sit in terms of your own EQ, which not only provides you with an overview of your EQ levels across the different composite areas, but also provides you with the basis for deciding on personal development. Assessments range from free online (basic) options to the fully scientific EQ-i 2.0 assessment which can set you back a few hundred pounds but also allow a trained and qualified practitioner to provide you will a proper understanding of your results and help you identify ways to you improve your EQ.

All in all, it’s becoming a more interesting and more fascinating subject as more is developed around EQ. If you haven’t heard much about it before, you probably will do going forwards as organisations are keen to explore additional ways to develop team members, increase performance and add further value to their bottom line. From your personal viewpoint, understanding your own EQ and taking some positive development steps towards enhancing it, could be a great asset for your future employment roles. 

Mark Corder

Co-Founder and Director


SCJ Excellentia APCC