We all face stressful conditions at work from time to time. We might deal with unrealistic deadlines, important presentations, or high sales goals. People deal with these types of situations in their own ways. Some people excel while others crumble. But people with high emotional intelligence, in particular, seem to soar no matter what.


Daniel Goleman, author of the 1995 classic book, Emotional Intelligence, says that there are five qualities that people with high emotional intelligence have in common. These qualities are self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, motivation and empathy. These characteristics help people with high emotional intelligence to deal with pressure and stress more effectively. Here are some of the ways people with high emotional intelligence react under pressure.


They remain calm

People with high emotional intelligence are able to remain calm under pressure. When a stressful situation occurs, their self-awareness allows them to tune into how they’re feeling, which sometimes means taking a time-out. They know where their breaking points are, so they can manage situations to ensure that they can remain calm and are never overwhelmed.


Furthermore, highly emotionally intelligent people use “big picture” thinking. They recognize that their perspective is just a small part of the overall picture. They can step outside of themselves to see the broader perspective— how the situation will affect a company as a whole, for example, or how the situation will affect the long-term outlook rather than just the present.


They respond rather than react

Highly emotionally intelligent people respond rather than react to stressful situations. The distinction is that reacting is instant and without thought. It’s a knee-jerk reaction. Responding is done with thought and intention. For example, if someone with high emotional intelligence is dealing with an angry boss, they are more able to see the situation from their boss’s perspective, to understand the pressure that their boss is experiencing, and to respond to the encounter accordingly. These skills help them to keep emotions at bay and work efficiently despite adverse conditions.


They remain confident and authentic

Despite pressure, people with high emotional IQs can remain confident and true to themselves. They know that stressful situations don’t affect who they are as a person. If they fail, they see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a reflection of their competence. Confidence also allows highly emotionally intelligent people to be authentic, even when it isn’t popular. They can say what they mean without fear of what others may think, because they are secure in their identity. When someone doesn’t like them, they don’t take it personally.


Confidence also helps people with high emotional intelligence to excel even under pressure, because they are able to continue thinking clearly. They can prioritize tasks and behave rationally, even when emotions run high. As a result, they are more likely to successfully complete tasks no matter how much pressure they are facing.


Having high emotional intelligence is extremely helpful in dealing with pressure. Fortunately, emotional intelligence is something that can be learned. If you want to excel even under stressful conditions, working on your emotional IQ is a good place to start.