Emotional and Cognitive Intelligence

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Cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence have both been widely examined with regard to their effect on individual workplace abilities. A critical comparison of the two concepts will be the basis of this essay. Some theorists have hypothesised that the ease with which an employee can process information and work towards solutions (our cognitive intelligence) is the key aspect in our ability to contribute to the workplace, particularly in more complex environments (Viswesvaran & Ones, 2002). While others support the theory that our ability to use and adapt to emotion (our emotional intelligence; EI) has the greatest affect on our organisational involvement (Cherniss, Extein, Goleman, & Weissberg, 2006). Through exploration of both theories, and their respective strengths and weaknesses coupled with their practical applications, this essay will aim to support the, perhaps rather diplomatic, view that the two concepts are not only equally important but, in fact, complementary (Cote & Miners, 2006). Since the emergence of emotional intelligence as a theoretical construct in the work of Salovey and Mayer (1989) there has been much debate surrounding its precise definition (Spector and Johnson, 2006). Despite these deliberations EI has come to be accepted as an one’s ability to recognise, project and shape their own emotions, and identify and appropriately respond to the emotions of others (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000). Furthermore, through research EI has become widely acknowledged for its organisational importance. Organisational leadership is purportedly more likely in individuals with high EI abilities (Rosete & Ciarrochi, 2005) while Kirch, Tucker, and Kirch (2001) speculated that accounting firms’ sole focus on cognitive capabilities when recruiting may lead to unhappy working environments. A popular method of testing for EI in research is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso emotional intelligence test (MSCEIT) (Cherniss, 2010; Cote & Miners, 2006). When a store manager recognises one of their staff is stressed or unhappy and offers them a break, some time off or even counselling they are employing their EI skills. It is estimated that anywhere up to 80% of our business potential is dependant on these skills, with only 20% of an individual’s organisational success based on their cognitive abilities (Kirch et al., 2001). This leaves little doubt about its importance in business. In complete contrast, cognitive intelligence is not a debatable concept. Generally speaking cognitive intelligence refers to an individual’s quantitative abilities, such as memory, problem solving and the ability to absorb and then utilise information (Cote & Miners, 2006). It has been studied in relation to the workforce for well over 80 years (Viswesveran & Ones, 2002), and it is quite obviously a valued attribute in wider society. We extensively test the cognitive abilities of our Year 12s in the examinations for the Higher School Certificate; receptionists are tested on their typing skills based on a words-per-minute measurement, and individuals are even asked to complete a comprehension task when the apply for training in the police force – physical ability alone is not sufficient. Cognitive intelligence is used every day; remembering to pick something up from the store, or calculating the total of the bill in a restaurant are examples of everyday cognitive capabilities. As such it is highly valued in jobs of elevated practical and mathematical expertise, such as linguistics or laboratory science. Some might even say the value placed upon these strengths is too high, but we will elaborate on that later. The existence and importance of emotional intelligence in life and work is virtually indisputable. Every time a sales manager sits down with a new recruit to ensure they are comfortable and prepared before their first cold call, or a doctor shields his fear about a potentially dangerous diagnosis to keep the patient calm, EI is in use....
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