Why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Is More Important Than IQ

Updated on September 2, 2017

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Conventional wisdom has it that there's a direct connection between our IQ and our ability to succeed in life. In school, we're ranked by our GPA. At certain points in grade school, students are given standardized tests that rank them against other students around the country. Schools are obsessed with how their students rank compared to others. A requirement for most colleges is a satisfactory score on the SAT or ACT exam. These tests are basic IQ tests, designed to gauge our math skills and reading comprehension.

But there have been many studies that show IQ only accounts for about 20% of success. The major determinants of success are social and emotional intelligence. Yet there's very little emphasis put on developing emotional intelligence. Only a handful of schools have any formal programs that address emotional intelligence.


People with well-developed emotional skills are ... more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of the mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.

— Daniel Goeman, "Emotional Intelligence"

We have an emotional mind and a rational mind. In large part, our emotional mind developed to help us survive. When man first wandered the earth, any time he encountered some new experience he needed to make instant decisions about whether the encounter involved something he could eat or something that might try to eat him. Relying on the rational mind, which works much slower than the emotional mind, might have meant the end of mankind. The emotional mind springs into action more quickly than the rational mind. But unless we learn to control the emotional mind, we will make lots of bad decisions and poor choices.


Top 5 Reasons EQ Determines Success in Life

Our emotional intelligence has such a large impact on our success in life, it's important that we fully develop our emotional skills. Here are the top five reasons why your emotional intelligence determines your success in life.

1. EQ has a greater impact on success than other factors.

It has been said that your IQ can land you a job, but your lack of EQ can get you fired. Your IQ only accounts for 20% of your success in life. Your emotional intelligence and social intelligence are much greater determinants of the success you will achieve in life.


2. The ability to delay gratification is a primary indicator of future success.

Delayed gratification is the top predictor of future success. People who are able to pay the price today and delay the rewards are much more likely to succeed in life. Unfortunately we have become a nation seeking instant gratification. This shows up in our everyday lives in the foods we choose to eat, the buy-now-pay-later way of life, our difficulty in adhering to an exercise regimen, and putting mindless entertainment ahead of self-development.

3. High EQ leads to healthy relationships with others.

Our emotional skills have a direct and important bearing on our relationships with others. We need to understand our feelings, where they come from, and how to properly express them. We will not maintain healthy relationships unless we can control our emotions, communicate our feelings in a constructive manner, and understand the feelings of others.


4. Emotional health impacts physical health.

There is a direct connection between our emotional health and our physical health. If our lives are filled with stress, our physical health suffers. It has been estimated that well over 80% of our health problems are stress-related. We experience stress primarily because we are not comfortable emotionally. We need to understand the link between our emotional health and our physical health.

5. Poor EQ is linked to crime and other unethical behaviors.

Unfortunately, there's a direct connection between poor emotional skills and the rising crime rate. Children who have poor emotional skills become social outcasts at a very young age. They might become the class bully because of a hot temper. They may have learned to react with fists rather than with reason. Poor social and emotional skills contribute to poor attention in class as well as feelings of frustration. Such students rapidly fall behind in school, and may tend to make friends with others in the same boat. The path to crime starts early in life. While there's no doubt that family and environment are strong contributors, the common thread is poor emotional and social skills.

This is one case where an ounce of prevention would certainly be worth a pound of cure. The cost of intervention when a child is in grade school is minor compared to the cost of jailing them in their teens and twenties.

How Do We Develop Emotional Intelligence?

We need to know our emotions. We need to develop self-awareness—the ability to recognize feelings as they happen.

We must learn how to manage our emotions. Unless we learn to manage our emotions we will constantly be battling feelings of gloom and distress.

We must learn to motivate ourselves, learn emotional self-control, and delay gratification.

If we are to succeed in life, we need to learn to recognize emotions in others. We need to develop empathy; we need to be attuned to what others want or need.

And we need to develop our emotional intelligence so we are capable of healthy relationships.


© 2008 John Chancellor


Submit a Comment
  • profile image

    Ronald Cluck 

    2 years ago

    Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is no longer the gold standard of a person's ability to succeed. Emotional intelligence is being hailed as the quality essential for success. http://bit.ly/2p5YrmI

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    When I teach communications this is the crux of the communications class. Excellent hub. It is relationships that support us - both at home and in business. There is a fascinating program called 6 Seconds and its foundation is Emotional Intelligence. Unfortunately, we do not formally incorporate this information in our educational system - and it is so critical. Thank you very much for sharing.

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    11 years ago from Tennessee


    Most of the information comes from the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, published September 26, 2006.

    Thanks for your comments. Hope this helps with your papers.


  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Hi am trying to cite your article in one of my papers. What is the publication date and the reference info please! Awesome article

  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    11 years ago from Tennessee

    I have read and I quoted from Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ. But I have also read several other books by various authors which deal with or touch on the subject.

    I have posted reviews on some 146 books on Amazon.com. About half of the books I read deal with human development and or achievement. So while Goleman was probably the primary source, he was certainly not the only source. His works are well annotated. But they are also heavy reading.

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    Hello John,

    Did you get your information from "Social Intelligence Byond IQ, Beyond Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman or is if from "Social Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ" by Goleman?


  • John Chancellor profile imageAUTHOR

    John Chancellor 

    11 years ago from Tennessee

    You are absolutely corect. And unfortunately we do a rather poor job of teaching people skills.

  • countrywomen profile image


    11 years ago from Washington, USA

    I myself have observed that the top students in school aren't necessarily at the top most positions. It's mostly people who have good people skills who succeed.


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