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  • Natalie Petersen

Mind Your P’s and EQ: Leveraging Emotional Intelligence as a Superpower

Many of us lack familiarity with EQ, are unsure where to begin or are even skeptical of its relevance. Some doubt its existence altogether.

Others, though they consider themselves EQ-savvy, seek refresher courses, new tools, and fresh perspectives.

Then there are those who champion EQ across various levels of advocacy, from theory to practice, recognizing its universal importance.

But regardless of where you stand on EQ, or whether you've engaged with it at all, your Emotional Intelligence impacts every facet of your daily life. When understood and harnessed, it becomes a potent superpower, enhancing emotional well-being, personal and professional success, and all types of relationships.


According to Google, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions, as well as empathize with others in handling interpersonal relationships wisely.

EQ stands apart from IQ and personality traits, which are seen as fixed throughout life.

EQ falls under the purview of Self Science, originating in the 1970s with pioneers like Drs. Anabel Jensen and Karen McCown. It aims to structure and understand the inner world we experience moment by moment.

The term "emotional intelligence" was coined by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer in who first introduced the concept in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality in 1990. Their initial study was later popularized by another smart guy, Dan Goleman, in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence.

Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, simplifies EQ as that elusive quality influencing how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make decisions for positive outcomes. His road map is quite easy to digest and understand.

women with Her Nation Magzine
Leveraging Emotional Intelligence as a Superpower

Bradberry calls EQ that “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible and says, "Emotional Intelligence affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

In its simplest form, EQ is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence. As you can see in a graphic from, we recognize our personal and social selves and then have the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships. 


As we navigate ongoing global challenges, from crises to personal struggles, many seek tools to manage, adapt, and thrive. EQ has repeatedly proven pivotal to performance, progress, and both personal and professional achievements.

Emotional intelligence, often cited as more crucial than IQ or technical expertise, significantly impacts workplace success and personal fulfillment.

Emotional intelligence, more than any other factor, more than I.Q. or expertise, accounts for 85% to 90% of success at work. 

I.Q. is a threshold competence. You need it, but it doesn’t make you a star. Emotional intelligence can. 

~ Warren Bennis, The “Father” of Leadership Development (3/8/25-7/31/14)

This isn't just theory; emotions fundamentally shape how we communicate. Developing EQ is a valuable investment of time and energy, enhancing our ability to understand, practice, and share emotional intelligence for immediate life improvements.


Have you heard of the 7-38-55 Rule? It says that only 7% of all communication is done verbally, whereas the nonverbal component of our daily communication - the tone of our voice and body language - make up 38% and 55% respectively. 

That's a significant amount of nonverbal communication—NINETY-THREE PERCENT!—submerged beneath the surface, waiting for another person to discern, possibly misinterpret, or mistakenly attribute to one meaning over another. These nuances are crucial for fostering trust and establishing connections. When overlooked or misunderstood, akin to the Titanic's unforeseen encounter with an iceberg, the repercussions of submerged communication can be avoided with the wisdom of Emotional Intelligence.

This isn’t to say EQ is an easy undertaking. Our social and educational systems are actively teaching us to neglect the nonverbal dimensions of experience. Cell phones, email, and text messaging, AI, quick-replies, auto-replies, out-of-office-out-of-life replies, though incredibly convenient, are sucking the life out of our effectiveness as communicators. We actively write off powerful stores of nonverbal wisdom, the “other 93 percent” that arguably makes us human.

Even more troubling for aspiring leaders, excessive dependence on verbal communication leads capable, well-intentioned, and educated individuals to overlook a crucial aspect of advanced personal and professional success. This oversight involves the impact of nonverbal cues such as behavior, facial expressions, body language, feelings, commitment, intuitions, and energy—each of which can either significantly enhance the effectiveness of even the simplest requests or severely undermine the impact of the most eloquent speeches.


At the heart of EQ, this other kind of smart, is Self Awareness. Awareness of self, what makes us tick, sensations we experience physically, how we process information and people and time and space, and the resulting emotions we feel because of all of this, is our starting point. Being critically self-reflective, without judgment of right or wrong, is paramount to learning and developing an appreciation for who we are.

Three competencies make up Self Awareness:

  • Emotional self-awareness, where you can read and understand your emotions as well as recognize their impact on work performance and relationships; 

  • Accurate self-assessment, where you can give a realistic evaluation of your strengths and limitations; and

  • Self-confidence, or a positive and strong sense of one’s self-worth.


With self-awareness comes the ability to manage one's self, and understand the myriad of emotions we humans are capable of feeling. For instance, when anger hits as an emotion, what steps do you take to question the emotion and act intentionally around dealing with it? 

Self-management is done without direct input from others. How do you respond when no one else is watching? What flow do you follow, and how do you react and respond to obstacles or shifts in your journey?

Self-management is composed of five competencies:

  • Self-control, or keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control;

  • Transparency, or maintaining standards of honesty and integrity, managing yourself and responsibilities;

  • Adaptability, or the flexibility in adapting to changing situations and overcoming obstacles;

  • Achievement orientation, or your drive to meet internal standards of excellence; and

  • Initiative, or the readiness with which you seize opportunities and act.

Much of self-management is learned behavior, modeled to us by our families and caregivers. We are guided and corrected and influenced at a very early stage by people and situations, and these contexts shape us in ways many will never realize. However, taking time to examine the ways in which we manage ourselves allows us to address unhealthy habits and deep-seated programming. With time and commitment, we can actually rewire pathways in our mind and lead more emotionally responsible, healthy, fulfilling lives.


What you then do with that self-managing self of yours in a social setting is critical to EQ, too, right? And that's YOU in a room, on a street, on a plane, at a fundraiser, with any number of other people. What you do to manage the social interactions that are a part of or become a part of relationships is that last important piece. Let's look a lot closer.

Social awareness is comprised of empathy, organizational awareness, and service orientation. And finally, the social cluster of relationship management is made up of multiple competencies, including visionary leadership, developing others, influence, being a catalyst for change, managing conflict, building bonds, and teamwork and collaboration.

I personally rely heavily on the global organization Six Seconds, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the world’s emotional intelligence, to inform my efforts around EQ. They ignite change through research and teaching, and they serve as a major influencer in this critical realm of study.

Six Seconds identifies eight measurable, learnable EQ skills. I’ve listed them below with questions for you to consider. 

  • Enhance Emotional Literacy. Can you accurately identify and interpret the range of your feelings?

  • Recognize Patterns. Can you recognize recurring reactions and behaviors?

  • Apply Consequential Thinking. How do you evaluate the costs and benefits of the choices you make?

  • Navigate Emotions. How would you say you do at assessing, harnessing, and transforming emotions into strategic resources?

  • Engage Intrinsic Motivation. Do you gain energy from personal values and commitments, or are you driven by external forces?

  • Exercise Optimism. Do you approach situations and life with a proactive perspective of hope and possibility?

  • Increase Empathy. Can you recognize, connect with, and appropriately respond to emotions in others?

  • Pursue Noble Goals. Do you actively connect your daily choices with your overarching sense of purpose?

Which do you think are your strengths? Or most challenging areas? 

If you’re interested in how you fare in EQ, there are many assessments from which to choose. If becoming more in tune with your EQ and working to improve it on your own is daunting, consider engaging someone to help. As a communications mentor, I partner with humans in both personal and professional settings to enhance and leverage EQ into the superpower it is. My own coach and mentor, the late Andi Burgis, founder of Challenge U, was often quoted as saying, “The only way out is through, and the only way through is with EQ.”

So tell me, how now will YOU use your EQ?


Natalie Petersen with Her Nation Magzine
Natalie Petersen | Communications Mentor

Meet the author:

Natalie Petersen is a communications professional, mentor, author, and speaker. She serves healing-curious humans individually and in groups keen on growing self-awareness and loosening the grip of self-doubt so they can experience greater connection, community, and congruence. Her chat cast, Think Out Loud With Me, is one such brave space where this all comes to life.


Dive deeper into her wealth of knowledge:



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