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Another Thing to Consider When Choosing A Career
Author: Susan Dunn, M.A.

There's a lot being said these days about EQ (emotional intelligence). It plays an important part in many areas of our lives. The term was popularized by Daniel Goleman in his book, "Emotional Intelligence." The George Lucas Education Foundation (see www.edutopia.org) has made it a major focus of their program.

Emotional intelligence is the set of skills that allows us to handle ourselves and others in coping with the demands and pressures of our personal and professional lives.

There are 5 core competencies: emotional self-awareness, empathy, assertiveness, reality testing, and impulse control.

In his book, "CareerSmarts," Martin Yates discusses the role of EQ in careers and rates the level of EQ needed for different jobs.

Some jobs require a great deal of EQ, and some don't. This is something to keep in mind when you're choosing a career, or when you're considering changing careers because you're miserable in the one you have, or when you counsel or coach others in career choices and goals.

"Jobs that don't require a high EQ are ones involving tasks that can be accomplished alone or by working with others in structured, proscribed ways," says Yates. Those are jobs such as these: Botanist, chef, actuary, billing clerk, systems analyst, electrical engineer, accountant, geophysicist, software engineer, waitperson, travel agent, secretary or optician.

Jobs that do require a high level of EQ, according to Yates, are: being a psychiatrist, social worker, family doctor, teacher, HR manager, nurse, public relations specialist, training manager, adult education teacher, or occupational therapist. [For a complete list in ascending order, see www.topten.org/public/AG/AG331.html]

That's not to say that someone with a high EQ couldn't be happy and successful as a botanist. There are other factors that contribute to success and happiness in a career such as IQ, skills, level of education, working environment, and temperament that need to be taken into consideration. However, EQ is definitely something to keep in mind when considering careers and career goals.

Generally speaking, Goleman feels that the higher up you go in your field, the more EQ you're going to need. Fortunately it can be learned and it can be developed over the lifespan.

Some of the individual EQ competencies are resilience, flexibility, authenticity, constructive discontent, optimism, self-talk, anger management, and creativity.

How do you know what your EQ is? There are some formal assessments available -- three of them are: the MEIS(c), the EQ-Map(c), and the Bar-on EQ-I(c).

Q&A:

What can you do if you feel there's a misfit in your career situation? You can change the job to fit the EQ, or change the EQ to fit another job.

How can you develop competencies if you want to or need to?

1. Read about emotional intelligence. There are many resources listed on http://www.eq.org.

2. Take some distance learning courses. Three sites that offer EQ courses are www.addeq.com/demo.html, www.susandunn.cc/courses.htm, and www.blackboard.com.

3. You can work with a buddy.

4. You can work with an EQ coach or counselor. Because it involves emotional and social skills, it's best learned in social and emotional situations.

How long does it take to improve? Improving your emotional intelligence means changing old habits and learning new behaviors so it takes time, patience, and feedback. A coach can operationalize the concepts for you, i.e., tell you what they look like in operation. They're also an important source of support and encouragement, because, as in learning anything new, there will be setbacks.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Improving your EQ takes intentional effort, but it's worth it.

If you feel like you didn't get much instruction in this area, you're not alone. Maurice Elias, Rutgers University psychology professor, says, "It's the set of abilities that helps us get along in life with other people in all kinds of life situations. [It's been] the missing piece in American education."








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Susan Dunn is a personal and professional development coach, specializing in emotional intelligence and strengths and works with an international clientele. She offers distance learning courses in emotional intelligence. Email her at sdunn@susandunn.cc, or visit her on the web at http://www.susandunn.cc.

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