Emotional Intelligence: Personal Competence and Social Competence


By: Allyssia Vasquez, Associate– El Segundo, CA

You’re open to new opportunities and you’re putting the fine touches on your resume. You come to the section to list your skills, which sparks an internal debate. You’re probably wondering what you can offer that will set you apart from those who share similar skill sets. The laundry list of skills you can potentially tag on may increase your likelihood of showing up in a search, but does it really set you apart?  Unfortunately, some of the best qualities you can offer an employer aren’t ones you can put on paper. One skill that is hard to measure, hard to market, yet crucial for success in the workplace: Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of others. It’s an important skill to have when working in teams, managing teams, or even hitting your own personal goals.

Emotional intelligence can be broken down into two categories – personal competence and social competence. Personal competence relates to understanding your emotions as they happen as well as your tendencies to act a certain way. For instance, maybe a colleague is experiencing professional success. The drive and competitor in you can make you feel jealous or envious; however personal competence will reveal those emotions to you before allowing you to act on them. The second is social competence. Social competence is the ability to interpret of the emotions of others around you. For example, let’s say your colleague is having a stressful day and maybe they are reacting to their stress with disheveled silence. Instead of completely disregarding this person’s stress because they are unaware, someone who is socially competent has the ability to recognize what the person is going through to potentially encourage them to keep their head up or offer some form of help.  Personal competEQ2ence is about being emotionally aware. It’s the notion of understanding emotions around you and ultimately how you can best deal with them.

Let’s face it; controlling your emotions is a hard thing to do. But understanding why they are happening is life changing. To achieve personal competence, one must master self-awareness and self-management. People scoring high in self-awareness are extremely clear in what that they do well, what it is that makes them tick, and ultimately what motivates them. In Travis Bradbury’s Emotional Intelligence 2.0 its states that “83% of people high in self-awareness are top performers.” This is because when you are self-aware you are far more likely to pursue the right opportunities. Self-management is when you act, or do not act, on certain emotions. This is more than just managing explosive behaviors; this is putting your needs of the moment on hold and successfully managing your tendencies to achieve a much larger goal.

So how are these skills important in the workplace? Bradbury states “EQ (emotional intelligence) is so critical to success that it accounts for 58 percent of performance in all types of jobs.” It is the largest predictor of performance, leadership and personal achievement. We are working with different people of different cultures and backgrounds on a daily basis. Ultimately, professionalism will be translated into the ability to manage people. Working on your emotional intelligence and finding the ability to drop your selfish tendencies is all for the betterment of a team. People who lack emotional intelligence can come off as arrogant, intense, rigid and selfish. Lack of self-awareness can even sabotage your own success.

Mastering an intangible skill such as Emotional Intelligence 1emotional intelligence takes practice. It can be uncomfortable identifying your emotions because that would mean feeling comfortable with negative feelings. However, just being conscious of your behavior and emotions in the workplace is a step towards raising your EQ. In Emotional Intelligence 2.0 they conducted a study at the business school at the University of Queensland in Australia and discovered that people who are low in EQ and job performance can match their colleagues who are excelling solely by working to improve their emotional intelligence. The study also found that high EQ is directly linked to higher pay and earning no matter the industry.

Emotional intelligence is one of those great intangibles to add to your long list of skills. Employers across the globe are beginning to recognize the concept and are looking for people who show signs of emotional intelligence. Those people who deploy a solid and unique blend of reason and emotions will achieve the greatest results in the workplace.



Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart.

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