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Emotional Intelligence in accounting

We’ve all heard about IQ, as the measurement has followed us through school and in pursuing careers. However, what about EQ? Emotional Intelligence matters both in the workplace and in interaction with the public. So, what is it? Emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”

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Think about it in the context of the accounting profession. As accountants, we continuously work to improve and grow our technical skills; however, we have also become increasingly reliant on management, client relationship and business development skills. This is where the concept of emotional intelligence plays an important role. The ability to respond versus react to situations leads to effective decision-making and a more productive work environment.

EQ was popularized by Daniel Goleman, PhD, in his 1996 book “Emotional Intelligence.” Goleman introduced four main components of the concept:

  1. Self-awareness. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you navigate your career and role in team settings, contributing to a positive and efficient working environment.
  2. Self-management. Change is inevitable, especially in the accounting profession; however, how we adapt to change is within our control. As people feed off each other’s emotions, the way one reacts to change or stressful situations can have a ripple effect on those around.
  3. Social awareness. Learning about non-verbal communication and body language is vital as so much of communication happens between words. The ability to more effectively read body language will aide in more productive problem solving and overall communication.
  4. Social skill. Leaders with high EQ recognize traits in others and actively work to develop their team through relationship building and influence.

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Keeping these components in mind can play an important role in any profession, including accounting. The best part is that just like debits and credits can be learned, emotional intelligence is also a practiced and developed skill over time!

Do you still have questions? Feel free to contact a Henry+Horne professional to help assist you.


Megan Gaughan