Emotional intelligence (EQ) is increasingly becoming a greater determinant of future success across all spheres of life than IQ, an expert says, adding that it is more important than ever before that EQ is nurtured from a young age.
“The introduction of social media into our lives as well as the lives of our children has created an environment where people are required to efficiently manage a variety of relationships simultaneously and successfully,” says Chris Van Niekerk, head at Founders Hill College, part of Africa’s largest private education provider, ADvTECH.
He says the acquisition of knowledge, while obviously important, is less critical in the current information age, and that the emphasis for success has more to do with what can be done with the knowledge at hand.
“This requires the ability to collaborate across gender divides, age gaps, cultural differences, and the like. A well-developed EQ will position a child well to positively engage 21st century challenges in adolescence and ultimately, adulthood.”
Van Niekerk says that emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to understand our own feelings, as well as the feelings of those around us. This includes concepts of self-awareness, empathy and dealing sensitively with other people.
“In a world where we are required to manage a matrix of personal and professional relationships instantly and efficiently, the need to have a well-developed sense of self, alongside good empathetic social awareness is critical. It is widely accepted that IQ alone does not guarantee success in adulthood, in either the workplace or at home.
“Our potential, and that of our children, will only come to fruition if our cognitive abilities are enhanced, complemented and communicated through a well-developed EQ which entails sound self-awareness as well as the awareness of the emotions of those around us.”
Van Niekerk says that a well-developed EQ can, literally, be the deciding factor for success in adulthood.
“This places an exciting, but onerous burden on us as parents and educators to ensure that our children are not only well versed in the Social, Natural and Commercial Sciences, among others, but also have the emotional savvy to manage their own feelings and behaviours, while being able to understand the feelings of others.”