Emotional Intelligence: The Difference Maker

The other day, a professor at a land grant university was telling me about his class. He had invited an energetic guest speaker to talk about a relevant topic on the future of the agriculture industry. From the professor’s vantage point at the rear of the class, he noticed that halfway through the lecture almost 50% of the class was on a laptop, tablet or cell phone, and not paying attention to the speaker. To make a long story short, he was not happy with his students and apologized to the speaker. He indicated that he would not invite another speaker to this class based upon the class’s lack of attention and attitude.

As a general observation, technology is having an impact on interpersonal communications, or the emotional intelligence coefficient. A skill that will be valuable for existing and future generations will be the development of emotional intelligence, also referred to as EQ. To grow emotional intelligence, you have to first develop an understanding of your own personality and style. Then, you must learn what motivates those around you and how the environment or circumstances affect that interaction.

Often, personality profiles combined with understanding questions and nonverbal communication can assist you in building emotional and technical intelligence. Is there proof in the pudding?

According to a CNBC article, 90% of top performers have higher emotional intelligence. When technical skills are similar, 90% of career advancements are due to emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence also contributes to 58% of job performance. People with high emotional intelligence earn approximately $29,000 more annually.

Eighty-five percent of financial success is due to skills, human engineering and the ability to communicate, collaborate, negotiate and lead. Only 15% of success can be attributed to technical ability.

It is interesting to note that within the Virginia Tech NBA, otherwise known as the Noontime Basketball Association, we would quickly know who would make tenure and promotion at the University. I have played with this informal basketball league for over five decades. If a new professor did not assimilate into the basketball team, they often did not make it on the academic side either.

I would like to give a shout out to 4-H and FFA members and to all high school administrators and teachers who take notice of emotional intelligence and how it is developed. These organizations and the activities they sponsor develop emotional intelligence within young agriculturalists. Emotional intelligence will continue to be a valuable skill in the future.