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Why EQ and People Skills Will Determine Your Success in 2024 and Beyond

By now, everyone has had a taste of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Let's face it—there's no stopping technology and AI from reshaping our lives and the work landscape. Yet, the significance of emotional intelligence (EQ) and people skills is becoming more relevant than ever. There are certain things machines simply cannot duplicate.

People skills (often referred to as "soft skills") are no longer nice-to-have attributes. They are essential for professional success in 2024. Company leaders are insisting on them in new hires at an unprecedented rate!

Estimated reading: 7 minutes

Business team high-fiving in celebration of success.Heartmanity is proud to partner with outstanding companies that we wholeheartedly recommend so this post may contain affiliate links. You can read our full disclosure here.

Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Trumps Technical Skills

The reasons are simple: EQ (or emotional quotient) and people skills are timeless and irreplaceable, unlike hard skills, which evolving technology can make obsolete.

Emotional intelligence is also vital because fostering effective interpersonal relationships is necessary for professional success. High EQ involves recognizing, understanding, and managing our emotions and those of others. It acts as a connector in our rapidly changing, technologically-focused world.

What's your emotional quotient? Are you feeling secure in this area?

Enhancing your understanding and mastery in the realm of human emotions and learning to tune into the nuances of feelings is a skill beyond the reach of machines or AI.

People skills, including communication, empathy, active listening, and conflict resolution—the backbone of EQ—are critical to a thriving work environment both at home and in the workplace. These particular skills help you build rapport, resolve conflicts easily by creating win-win solutions, and help you lead compassionately, ensuring smooth, professional interactions.

Still not convinced?

Let's look at recent statistics to help you make an informed conclusion.

The Statistics of Why People Skills Are Needed in the Workplace

HRT_Blog_Bullet_Template_1023_Design2_FINALA huge percentage, a whopping 60% of employees are unengaged, and 1 in 5 are miserable! The cost to companies through lost productivity worldwide is $7.8  trillion [Source]


HRT_Blog_Bullet_Template_1023_Design2_FINAL2A global study by recruitment specialist Michael Page found that emotional intelligence often ranks higher than work experience among employer priorities.

85% of job success is derived from well-developed people skills and only 15% from hard skills. [Source]

Employees with an empathetic leader increased creativity by 61% and engagement by 76%. [Source]


HRT_Blog_Bullet_Template_1023_Design2_FINAL580% of employers are looking to hire candidates with strong teamwork skills. [Source]


Global demand
for EQ skills is expected to grow by 6x in the next few years.

According to these statistics, it’s clear that companies are desperate for employees who have EQ skills and people abilities. Below are some of the most in-demand abilities:

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Perspective taking
  • Collaboration
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Navigating social complexities
  • Teambuilding abilities
  • Conflict resolution
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving

And guess what?

Every single one of the above skills are EQ skills and over half are people skills.

Get EQ online training now: 5 Best Emotional Intelligence Courses.”

Now, let’s get into why interpersonal skills are imperative for success in the dynamic, unpredictable landscape of 2024 and beyond.
Business professionals with people skills conversing and resolving a conflict with each other.

Appreciating and Valuing People Skills as Essential

Thriving—not just surviving—in the modern workplace depends on emotional intelligence (EQ) and people skills.


Because EQ involves self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and motivation, all critical to interpersonal relationships.

Let me show you what I mean.

Have you ever worked with someone who let their frustration and anger out on you or another employee?

Not pleasant is it? That person lacks self-regulation.

Have you ever had a tight timeline and the person working on the project with you didn’t do their fair share?

Total drag, isn’t it?—especially if you have a high standard of excellence and teamwork. They may lack motivation and empathy.

What about a co-worker who shuts down, pouts, and stops returning emails?

A huge block in communication, wouldn't you say? That person holds others hostage with their unprocessed emotions. They most likely lack awareness of their impact on others, emotional literacy, empathy, and self-management skills!

These are only three reasons why social skills in the workplace are vital. These abilities enhance communication at every level and in every relationship.

You need these skills to build strong relationships, lead teams, and create a positive work environment. They enable constructive engagement and build mutual understanding. There’s no understanding if you can’t see another person’s perspective, is there!? And the ability to shift our perspective to seize opportunities is crucial in business.

Some people believe that machines are coming for our jobs.

Maybe that’s one of your fears.

I choose to view AI in a positive light, with a glass-is-half-full mindset: Human-centric skills will become increasingly valuable in our modern world. The reason I feel this trend so strongly is because our brains are programmed and wired for needs in relationships with belonging and connection.

AI, technology, and automation cannot fulfill these deeper needs.

To forge a successful company requires people. PEOPLE need to belong, be a part of meaningful communication, and be inspired by a vision and mission greater than themselves.

In Simon Sinek's book, Leaders Eat Last, he writes:

When we feel like we belong to the group and trust the people with whom we work, we naturally cooperate to face outside challenges and threats. When we do not have a sense of belonging, however, then we are forced to invest time and energy to protect ourselves from each other.

And YOU can be the glue that makes you a team player at work who galvanizes trust and extends empathy.

If you’re ready and willing to learn and grow!

Developing a strong EQ and honing people skills can set you apart, establishing the foundation for lasting success and fulfillment in your career.

High emotional intelligence is the single most valuable ability that leaders are looking for in new hires. My experience working with leaders over the past two years concurs with the above statistics. Leaders' greatest pain, biggest complaint, and most burning future goal is building teams with high EQ.

Go Deeper: "27 Ways to Raise Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace."

Emotional Intelligence and People Skills on a Dramatic Rise in Leadership

Employers are getting a VERY loud hint about needing people skills and EQ themselves as well as in their employees. They are increasingly recognizing the significance of these skills over technical expertise across many industries. Even in software, people have to work together to stay on the cutting edge of the competition.

High EQ makes good leaders. Emotionally intelligent leaders like Satya Nadella of Microsoft have demonstrated how EQ can revolutionize a workplace. For example, Nadella supported Microsoft’s staff after its Twitter bot, Tay, was deemed a massive failure.

He wrote an email to the team, using it as a learning opportunity instead of criticism. This method motivated his team and promoted a culture of innovation and resilience. Here’s a quote from the memo:

"Keep pushing, and know that I am with you... (The) key is to keep learning and improving."

Employers increasingly recognize that adapting, assimilating feedback, and navigating interpersonal dynamics are essential in today's leadership, especially during periods of change or challenge.

This is yet another example of why EQ and people skills are indispensable.

Below are some of the most critical interpersonal skills to learn whether you're an employee, business owner, manager or leader.

How to Develop People Skills

Here are some ideas for enhancing your people skills this year:

EQ Skill #1: Self-awareness.Prioritize Self-Awareness.

How well do you understand yourself? Here are key things to notice:

This self-awareness is crucial for developing EQ and enhancing interactions with others.

EQ Skill #2: Emotional regulationUse Techniques for Self-Regulation.

Once you know your emotional triggers, work to manage them. Cool off before you respond to others, especially if you experience an intense feeling. Recognize when you need help and ask for it; sometimes, a fresh perspective helps. Learning to self-regulate allows you to maintain composure, communicate more effectively, and make rational decisions in stressful situations.

EQ Skill #3: Social and interpersonal skills.Build Social and Interpersonal Skills.

Social skills require practice. Even the act of listening isn’t passive. One great way to enhance your listening skills is through active listening. Below are essential things to consciously be aware of:

Watch the person’s body language.

  • Is their facial expression unhappy, neutral, or happy?
  • Is their body tense or relaxed?
  • Are they looking down or is there eye contact?
  • Are their hands expressive or still?
  • What is the speed of their talking? Slow, with long pauses? Or fast and excited?
  • What are the emotions behind their words?

We don’t just listen with our ears. We listen actively with all of our senses. To truly listen, you’re paying attention to the cues, but also how their message is affecting us.

EQ Skill #4: Enhance empathy.Enhance Your Empathy.

Empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. If we’re full of our own emotions or just seeking to check one more thing off our to-do list, it can be difficult to listen, let alone understand another's perspective. So, the first step of empathizing is centering ourselves to be present. Suspend judgment and just be present.

When there’s a conflict, we need to unhook from our own viewpoint (at least temporarily) and seek to understand their viewpoint. The more contrary, the more crucial this step is.

If you find yourself getting stuck in black-and-white thinking (you’re right, and they’re wrong), try to view scenarios from multiple perspectives to deepen understanding and connections. This simple exercise will encourage flexibility of thinking and allow you to empathize easier.

Start Now

EQ Skill #5: Learn to self-motivate!Learn to Self-Motivate.

There are two different kinds of motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic) and many different levels. Learn what motivates YOU. Getting acquainted with what drives you will enable you to turn on the switch of self-motivation at will or turn it off when you want to relax.

Unfortunately, some people push themselves with critical self-talk and neglect listening to their inner guidance. Without self-awareness, it is challenging to utilize these keys to motivation.

For instance, fulfillment is an intrinsic motivator. If meaning and fulfillment are important to you, focus on job aspects that provide fulfillment to boost your motivation when needed.

If you measure efficiency as a motivator, set a timer and see how fast you can accomplish a task without compromising quality.

Or if you’ve been working hard for a promotion, envisioning yourself receiving that promotion with elevated emotion as if it has already happened. These are a few ways to self-motivate.

Developing people skills isn't only about professional success; people skills can create meaningful connections, a supportive work environment, and lasting friendships. These skills are invaluable in navigating relationships and today’s workplace complexities.

And if you need some help, Heartmanity has professional coaching and resources to assist you.

Make Social Intelligence Your Focus for 2024

Sometimes, despite your impressive qualifications, you miss out on job opportunities. Have you ever wondered why another applicant got chosen over you?

Use this disappointment in your favor. Get curious about how you might improve yourself. More value equals better opportunities!

Improve Your Job Interviews to Land the Position

The answer might lie in a subtle yet significant communication gap surrounding emotional intelligence in the hiring process. Here are some hints to help you prepare:

  • Employers' Silent Wish for EQ: Employers often highly value EQ over work experience but rarely mention it in job ads. It’s a secret ingredient everyone wants but rarely talks about. (As early as 2019, 52% of organizations said that they employ senior management for their emotional intelligence.)

  • The Invisible EQ in CVs: Conversely, candidates rarely showcase their interpersonal skills in their CVs. Many applicants focus on flaunting their degrees and job experiences but forget to highlight their ability to empathize, listen, communicate well, and navigate the emotional landscape of the workplace.

  • Why This Matters: This communication gap can lead to workplace mismatches. Employers might end up with technically skilled but emotionally unaware teams, while talented individuals with high EQ miss out on opportunities to shine.

Bridge the Gap to Create a Thriving Culture and Workplace

As an emotional intelligence and communication expert for over two decades, I've seen how leading, excelling at work, or nailing job interviews contains certain ingredients. Below are actions to help create a better experience:

We can bridge this gap:

Employers, speak up!

Articulate the need for EQ in your job postings. Mention empathy, teamwork, and emotional awareness as critical competencies. Attract candidates with these skills and set the tone for your organizational culture. Ask open-ended questions to see how applicants might handle real or possible situations. Look for signs of low emotional intelligence.

Create an EQ-Inclusive Culture

Don't just hire for EQ; nurture it within your teams. Create a workplace that values open communication, emotional understanding, and empathetic leadership. Actively pursue this culture through regular team-building activities, EQ-focused workshops, openly discussing challenges, and valuing emotional well-being.

Continual Learning and Development

Employers and employees need to view EQ as a critical skill set for ongoing development. Offer and seek EQ training to make a significant difference.

Candidates, Showcase Your EQ

In your CV and interviews, focus not only on technical abilities or academic achievements but also on instances where your emotional intelligence was crucial—resolving team conflicts, empathizing with clients, or adapting to change resiliently. Let your EQ shine as a unique and valuable asset.

Remember, bridging this EQ communication gap requires ongoing adjustment and understanding. By valuing and clearly communicating the importance of emotional intelligence, we create more harmonious, effective, and fulfilling workplaces.

Let's not underestimate the power of understanding and leveraging our emotions at work.

After all, every successful business is built on people who understand and care for each other. When each employee champions everyone’s success, the company naturally rises.

To quote Simon Sinek once again:

The strength of the culture, and not its size or resources, determines an organization's ability to adapt to the times, overcome adversity and pioneer new innovations. When the conditions are right, when a strong Circle of Safety is present and felt by all, we do what we do best. We act in the manner for which are designed. We pull together.


Closing Thoughts

As we forge further into 2024, it’s clear that emotional intelligence and people skills are more than just assets; they are essential to our success and happiness. These skills are at the heart of every robust and empathetic workplace—the environment that allows us to feel safe. All meaningful relationships require high emotional intelligence, which helps us connect and empathize more deeply.

The technological world changes fast.

Human connection, developing relationships, and mastering emotional intelligence takes patience, insight and fortitude—with amazing dividends paid daily!

Understanding ourselves and others is not just a set of skills but a gift that brings us closer, ensuring that everyone around you (including yourself) feels valued and part of something greater.

Whether you're looking for career development, to step into a leadership role, or simply to create a more positive environment around you, focusing on EQ and people skills is the way forward.

Get EQ online training now: 5 Best Emotional Intelligence Courses.”

Remember, the true measure of our success lies not just in our knowledge or technical abilities, but in how we relate to and care for those around us.

Let's embrace these human skills with open hearts and minds. Let’s unlock our fullest potential for a future filled with confidence and compassion.

If you're ready to take the next step for success this year, consider Heartmanity's coaching programs or people skills training. It's an investment in yourself that pays incredible rewards in every aspect of life.

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Jennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity for BusinessJennifer A. Williams / Heartmanity for Business
Jennifer, the Heartmanity Founder, is an Executive Coach and Relationship Strategist. Her decades of expertise in training leaders and teams give her amazing insights. Jennifer's primary focuses are authentic leadership, effective communication, and emotional intelligence in the workplace. Jennifer teaches a holistic approach, specializing in transforming unproductive behaviors into emotionally intelligent actions, which creates thriving work relationships and catapults a company to success.

Posted in Business and Leadership

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