People Make More Money If They're Emotionally Intelligent

mbg Contributor By Emi Boscamp
mbg Contributor
Emi Boscamp is the former News Editor at mindbodygreen. She received a BA in English and minors in Spanish and Art History from Cornell University.

You've always been told that you should never let emotions get in the way of your job. Reserve your sensitive side for home. Being a hard-ass will get you the furthest. Maybe you've never questioned this advice.

But maybe it's time you started. A new study suggests quite the opposite is true: If you have a good eye for your colleagues' emotions, you'll earn more money.

"Although managing employees and dealing with people often involves reading their emotions and determining their moods, not everyone is good at it. It's the same as foreign languages or athletics: some people are good at it, while others aren't," said lead author Dr. Gerhard Blickle, in a press release.

The researchers, from the University of Bonn in Germany, showed the participants a series of voice recordings and images and asked them to identify the emotions being expressed in them. On average, the participants succeeding in identifying the correct emotion in 77% of the cases. Those who scored 80% and above were considered "good," and those who scored 90% and above were considered "really good."

Once the emotion recognition task was completed, the researchers asked the participants' colleagues and supervisors to assess the participant's performance at work. They found that those who scored higher on the task were considered "more socially and politically skilled" than those with low scores by both their supervisors and their colleagues, according to the press release. And, perhaps most strikingly, their income was significantly higher.

How accurate are these results, though? Dr. Blickle said that, because they were able to exclude alternative explanations for the results (i.e. sex, age, training, position), the data is very strong. Even after controlling for all these variants, the effect of emotion recognition ability on income still persisted.

It honestly makes sense: Those who can read other people well always know the right thing to say. This skill makes them more likable and therefore more likely to get a promotion over, say, that other guy who just has the worst timing.

So when you're at work, don't just focus all your attention on the task at hand; also pay careful attention to the nuances of your boss' and colleagues' characters — it'll literally pay off.

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