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The Great EQ vs IQ Debate

Let me ask you something. And it’s a kooky question, so stick with me. If, and I say if, there was a way to pre-determine whether our kids would be born with a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) or a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which would you chose? My only stipulation is that you can only pick one or the other. Because while I know that most of us would obviously choose both, I’m curious to know which one you’d go with if you could only choose one.

While you’re thinking, let me clarify exactly what I’m talking about here. According to Forbes online, IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence, i.e., how book smart you are. On the flip side are the EQ tests that measure your awareness of your own feelings and those of others. They rate how you regulate these feelings in yourself and other people, how you use emotions that are appropriate to a situation, self-motivation, and your ability to build relationships. I know it’s a lot, but it’s really the essence of who we are as individuals.

See, I’ve noticed, at least in my own limited little world, that there’s a real slanted focus today on IQ and not enough on the EQ side. On, you know, who we are as people.

And with a daughter in high school and another one in college, I’ve become acutely aware of how much grades and standardized test scores matter. I also happen to work in the school system, so I see, up close, the kind of stress kids are under to perform.

As a kid who almost always tested poorly on any kind of standardized test, I’ve always felt strongly that academics alone just aren’t a true indicator of a person’s ability or potential. 

In my case, I was always a hard worker and I understood, from very early on, that you get out of something exactly what you put in. And I relied heavily on that because I wasn’t a naturally book-smart student. Instead, I was the kid who stayed after school and did the extra credit and depended on my organizational skills to carry me through. Those were my advantages. And I exploited them as much as I possibly could.

See, I figured out early on that it was my core people skills that would carry me through life. And that’s precisely because I didn’t have the same learning style or aptitude that my AP-level friends had.

Personally, I think that raw intelligence is grossly overrated. So my no-hesitation answer to my own original question would be a high EQ all the way.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be like Madonna and have an IQ of 140 and have a glossy MENSA membership card in my wallet. But at the end of the day, that intelligence quotient is not what I really think you need the most to be successful in life. It’s important, no doubt, but when you really break it down, having a high IQ offers absolutely no guarantee that you’ll lead a successful life. And while I totally recognize that it opens certain doors that may otherwise have stay closed, a high IQ is no guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your high-profile, high-paying job.

I mean, if you can’t relate with people, or build and maintain relationships, then you won’t be in your sweet new job for very long. Because people won’t like you and you’ll get fired. And that’s because without the vital people skills you need to function in the mainstream, never be able to successfully collaborate. Remember, there’s no “i” in “team” for a reason.

According to a Carnegie Institute of Technology study, 85 percent of a person’s financial success is due to skills in human engineering, which includes your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. And, shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? Kinda gives what I’m talking about a little more credence, doesn’t it?

Or, at the very least, something to think about.

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I’m also the mom of two girls, a wife of almost 25 years to my high-school sweetheart, a nationally syndicated columnist, a runner, an avid paddle boarder, and a whole lot of other things. My true passion, though, is writing. And I love every chance … Read More


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