Understanding all about EQ

By Dr Peter Chew, Specialist in behaviour

This is the first article in a six-part series about understanding EQ and making it work for you

Knowing how to master one's emotions is vital in today's world

References to EQ regularly crop up in personnel reviews and books on self-development, but not everyone knows what it means.

EQ stands for "Emotional Quotient" or, in other words, can be explained as the emotional intelligence we use every day to manage ourselves and our relationships with others. It is also a living skill and, so long as it is seen as that, we can all learn how to master and use it to our advantage.

Are some people born with a naturally high EQ? The answer is a definite NO. Most of us are born with almost the same measure of EQ, but the environment we grow up in shapes the way we make use of what we have. Society, family values and our peers can all have a major impact.

In the past, it was often mistakenly thought that a "smart" person - someone with the traditional measure of intelligence of a high IQ - would do well in life. In fact, it is those who can master the competency of emotional intelligence who are usually most successful in life and in their careers.

Emotional intelligence is also a measure of our ability to assess a situation, change things if necessary and, thereby, create happiness for those around us. There is no set of standard rules to follow. It is basically about knowing how best to live our lives.

That does not mean we should suppress our emotions or try to please everyone we meet. Expressing emotions is very important - they are what make us human. But understanding and managing them is something we can all benefit from.

The good news is that EQ is a system based upon techniques and knowledge which can be learned.

But, you may ask, why should we bother? Because our society is getting more complex and our values, wants and needs are changing all the time. The question we should be asking is "Can we afford not to learn about EQ?" and the answer to that should be clear.

To start with, we can divide EQ into five main areas and examine some of the questions that apply to each:

Personal competence
Understanding yourself and the importance of intrinsic trust.
What are my values?
How clear am I of my goals in life?
Do I have the right attitude?

Emotional awareness
Understanding the emotions that affect you and how to change them.
Why am I feeling this way?
What will the consequences be?
What choices do I have?

Personal Discipline
Understanding how to control things more effectively.
What are my disciplines?
Can I put off short-term pleasure for long-term gain?
Am I willing to do what is important rather than what is easy?
Can I do what is right instead of what is acceptable?

Personal Motivation
Understanding the reasons behind your actions.
What made me do what I am doing now?
What do I think about first thing in the morning or last thing at night?
What are the options before me?
What sacrifices do I make?

Social competence
Understanding how much effort you really make to fit in.
How comfortable am I learning new information?
How do I handle new technology or new situations?
Do I like to meet people?
Am I willing to take risks?

Inevitably, our parents are the first and greatest influences on our EQ. From birth, we are learning from them about dealing with the outside world. They guide us in how to interact with other people, handle relationships, and work out the problems we encounter. As we grow, other people with different perspectives come to influence our development, but that process is basically passive.

Only when we find another method, one that is more active and works better, do we take control of what can happen in our lives. There will be an element of trial and error, which may cause problems, but, if we are to make the most of our potential to be intelligent, creative and balanced members of society, we must learn to be masters of our own EQ.

Founder of Best International Group of Companies, Dr Peter Chew is a psychotherapist, motivational specialist, author, lecturer, international keynote speaker, and consultant with over 20 years of vast experience. For information, please contact Peter Chew at

Taken from Career Times 17 September 2004
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