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20 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Get a Promotion

For a fast-track to the corner office, hone your "EQ."

Emotional intelligence (EQ), or the ability to understand and regulate your own emotional state and empathize with others, is an invaluable set of skills for anyone to have. However, while many people know how emotional intelligence can contribute to the health of relationships, friendships, and the like, its applications in the workplace are a little less obvious. What many people fail to realize is that, when it comes to reaching their goals at work and landing a promotion, EQ beats IQ virtually every time.

According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, people who scored highly on measures of emotional intelligence ended up earning more over a decade than those less in tune with their feelings. So, why is emotional intelligence so prized when it comes to scoring a promotion?

"Having emotional intelligence is a tremendous asset when you want to score a promotion. More than that, it helps you be a top-notch employee in the long run," says Karen R. Koenig, M. Ed, LCSW. "By knowing what you're feeling and managing your emotions effectively, you become an employee who's easy to work with, which bosses value. By being in tune with superiors' emotions, you'll better handle their bad moods or upset and show them that you're not only skilled at your work, but with interpersonal relationships in general. Bosses are more likely to promote people who aren't defensive, learn from their mistakes, and are basically upbeat, all traits of emotional intelligence." Luckily, honing your emotional intelligence isn't an arduous task. Just bone up on the 20 Easy Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence.

It Increases Your Confidence

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Being able to identify and process your emotions is a key factor in gaining serious confidence. Having adequate emotional intelligence can help you identify your strengths in the workplace and use that knowledge to your advantage when it comes time to dazzle your boss. Being emotionally intelligent also helps diminish some of the embarrassment people feel when asking for help, thus further increasing your confidence in the long run. And for more ways to boost your success, check out the 40 Best Ways to Jumpstart Your Career.

It Makes You a Better Negotiator

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Emotional intelligence goes a long way when it comes to winning in a negotiation. Keeping your emotions in check, especially when you really want a promotion or could use a cushier salary, will help increase your ability to negotiate strategically, rather than emotionally. Better yet, being emotionally intelligent can help you realize when it's time to walk away from a job that's just not giving you what you want—or need. And when you're ready for a change of pace, check out these 25 Work From Home Jobs With High Salaries.

It Makes You a More Effective Communicator

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The strong, silent type has its place, but being uncommunicative rarely paves a path toward a corner office. Being a good listener and adept communicator are both highly-prized skills in the workplace, and ones that makes you easier to work with. If you think your boss won't take notice that you're easy to talk to and seem to actually take his or her advice to heart, think again. And for more communication tips, check out these 40 Things You Should Never Say at Work.

It Helps You Attract Mentors

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One of the easiest ways to get recognized for your accomplishments and gain the necessary skills to level-up your career is by getting a mentor in your field. Fortunately, if you're emotionally intelligent, it's much easier to find someone eager to mentor you—someone who could potentially realize that you deserve a promotion, as well. Better yet, if you're emotionally intelligent, you'll be more open to the wisdom your mentor tries to impart to you along the way. And for more advice from higher-ups, check out these 15 Best Tips From Hiring Managers.

It Makes You a More Social Co-Worker

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If you ask your boss whether they'd rather have a co-worker who's a genius or one who's enjoyable to be around, they'll invariably say the latter. Fortunately, if you have a particularly social workplace and co-workers, being both emotionally intelligent and attuned with them will help you figure out how to fit in with the company's culture, something bosses look for in an employee.

It Makes You More Disciplined

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We all slack off at work from time to time, even if we know better. However, for those who are particularly emotionally intelligent, it's easier to maintain discipline throughout the workday—and pick up from a stopping point. Emotional intelligence can help you better understand your place as part of a team and realize exactly what those periods spent slacking off could cost your coworkers over time, including more work on their plates. Luckily, that discipline will definitely get noticed in the long run, potentially earning you a promotion along the way. And when you need a little motivation, check out these 20 Ways to Procrastinate Productively.

It Makes You More Open to Constructive Criticism

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It's not easy to accept criticism, but it's often necessary, particularly in the workplace. People who are emotionally intelligent tend to respond better to constructive criticism, as they're able to understand it as a means of improvement rather than a personal attack. Fortunately, when it comes to being promoted, workers who are taking those critiques well and improving themselves accordingly tend to rise to the top of the heap. And when you want to enjoy your time at work more, check out these 20 Genius Ways to Make Work More Fun.

It Helps You Stay Cool Under Pressure

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Even the most placid people occasionally let work stress get to them. For those particularly attuned to their emotions, it's easier to reel those feelings of frustration in before they boil over. Nobody wants to promote the guy known as a loose cannon, after all. And for more ways to steady your boat, discover these 30 Easy Ways to Fight Stress.

It Makes You More Empathetic

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Emotionally intelligent people tend to be more empathetic than their closed-off counterparts, and this can often do wonders for them when climbing the corporate ladder. If your coworkers know you as a helpful, understanding, and generally kind person who respects their feelings, you're more likely to stand out to managers who prize those interpersonal skills, too.

It Helps You Own Up to Your Mistakes

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It's never easy to feel like you've made a mistake at work. However, for people with particularly high emotional intelligence quotients, it's easier to recognize that mistakes are not reflective of who they are as a person. This makes it easier to learn from those errors and move forward, rather than getting defensive or letting their perceived failure distract them from the task at hand. When it comes time to get a promotion, managers definitely want someone who can say, "I messed up, but here's how I fixed it" over someone who never admits to their faults.

It Makes You More Self-Reflective

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When it comes time to hand out promotions, employees who think critically about the work they're doing tend to stand out more than those who just blithely go about their tasks day in and day out. People who are emotionally intelligent aren't afraid of reflecting on their work and thinking outside the box when the old way of doing things isn't getting them results. This kind of self-reflective behavior doesn't go unnoticed by those in charge.

It Helps You Critically Assess Your Weaknesses


It would be great to imagine that we're always doing A-plus work at our jobs. However, that's unlikely to be the case. Fortunately, emotionally intelligent employees are better at assessing their weaknesses than those who are closed off, making it easier for them to meet the needs of their workplace and ask for help when there's a skill they haven't quite mastered. In the long run, knowing your weaknesses and working on them will get you promoted a whole lot faster than trying to sweep them under the rug.

It Makes You More Likely to Build Upon Your Skillset

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Emotionally intelligent people know the difference between admitting you're good at something and bragging. And employees who know how to accurately assess their skills without coming across as braggarts are more likely to build upon their strengths, something bosses definitely take note of when it's time to promote.

It Makes You More Open to Praise

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While it's great to know how to take criticism, knowing how to take praise is also a worthwhile skill. For emotionally intelligent people, praise isn't immediately brushed off, but rather internalized and used as a motivational tool, something that will come in handy when you're looking to land a better title or more money.

It Helps You Earn the Respect of Others

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If you want to earn respect at work, being kind and receptive always trumps being perfect. And for those eager to grab a higher rung on the corporate ladder, emotional intelligence can help you master that openness and friendliness your boss is looking for at promotion time.

It Keeps You Motivated

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Emotional intelligence can be a great motivator in the workplace. By understanding your feelings and knowing what typically crushes your motivation, you can more effectively make a strategy for staying on track. If you're the one employee who's successfully avoiding workplace burnout and actually growing both personally and professionally, don't be surprised if you're the top pick when it comes time to promote.

It Makes it Easier to Adapt to New Roles

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While people with little emotional intelligence often find it easier and more comfortable to maintain the status quo, emotionally intelligent people are generally highly adaptable. Seeing this in an employee might just make your boss more eager to see what you're capable of when a potential promotion comes along.

It Helps You Connect With Your Boss

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Bosses are people, too, despite what it may seem sometimes. Emotional intelligence will allow you to connect with your boss on more of a peer-to-peer level than a boss-to-subordinate one, making them more likely to recognize your worth.

It Helps You Demonstrate Your Value

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The emotional intelligence that makes you confident and adept at assessing your own skills has another perk: it helps you demonstrate your value, too. Understanding why you're valuable to your workplace and exhibiting skills that show how you could be beneficial in new positions are sure to put you on the short list for that next promotion.

It Helps You Better Assess Your Worth

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It's easy to get discouraged when you feel like you're being passed over time and time again for promotions. However, with some practiced emotional intelligence, it's easier to assess your worth, giving you a leg up when it's time to discuss a promotion and letting you know when it's time to walk away from a job that clearly doesn't value your skills or your time. And for more ways to reach reach your full earning potential, This Is Exactly How to Ask for a Raise.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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