Table of Contents
- What Is Emotional Intelligence?
- Who Developed the Concept of Emotional Intelligence?
- The 4 Components of Emotional Intelligence
- Signs a Person Is Emotionally Intelligent
- Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important
- 4 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
- Leveraging Emotions for Heightened Personal Success
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as emotional quotient (EQ), refers to one’s ability to understand, relate to, and manage emotions. Higher levels of emotional intelligence enable a person to communicate more effectively, empathize, and overcome adversity better than someone who lacks emotional intelligence. As a result, emotional intelligence allows you to make better decisions, have greater people skills, and create stronger bonds with others.
Who Developed the Concept of Emotional Intelligence?
In 1990, social psychologists John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey sought to identify a way of measuring one’s abilities based on emotional capacity. Their most famous paper, “Emotional Intelligence,” coined the term. Since then, they’ve published additional research on their findings, and are accredited as leaders in this field of study.
Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as “a set of skills hypothesized to contribute to the accurate appraisal and expression of emotion in oneself and in others, the effective regulation of emotion in self and others, and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, and achieve in one’s life.”
Emotional intelligence, as we understand it today, is more commonly associated with the work of New York writer and psychologist Daniel Goleman. In the early 1990s, Goleman took the concept further by breaking it down into four components. The term “emotional intelligence” became more widely known when Goleman released a bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence, in 1995.
The 4 Components of Emotional Intelligence
According to Goleman, emotional intelligence covers four distinct categories. When a person exhibits the traits within each of the domains below, they are more likely to interact with others positively.
- Self-awareness: This means you can recognize your own emotions and how they influence your behavior. Someone with self-awareness demonstrates self-confidence and understands their unique strengths and limitations.
- Social awareness: Social awareness is having the ability to identify and manage the emotions of others within a social context. A socially aware person can discern subtle social cues and understand a group’s intricate emotional dynamics.
- Self-management: As implied, this means you are able to manage yourself. Someone with strong self-management will have healthy control of their emotions, be able to control impulses, think through decisions carefully, and be adaptable.
- Relationship management: This refers to how well someone can nurture interpersonal relationships. Those with strong social skills in this category communicate clearly, inspire others, take accountability for their mistakes, and have a high level of empathy.
Signs a Person Is Emotionally Intelligent
“EQ comes down to how you relate to emotions, first your own, then other people’s.”Deepak Chopra
Several indicators provide clues as to whether a person is emotionally intelligent or not. Here are some of the most common signs that a person is emotionally intelligent:
- Acknowledges, accepts, and works through feelings
- Takes responsibility for errors or failures
- Lets go of mistakes
- Adapts to change
- Thinks before they speak
- Recognizes their strengths and limitations
- Reads the room to identify the feelings of others
- Acts with compassion and kindness
- Puts others’ feelings above their own
Why Emotional Intelligence Is Important
“Self-awareness is about developing your capacity to sense how you are coming across, to have undistorted visibility into your own strengths and weaknesses, and to be able to gauge the emotions you are personally experiencing.”Joshua Margolis
Being able to identify and manage your emotions and understand how your behaviors are perceived by others is critical for success. According to Harvard Business School, 90% of what sets high achievers apart from their peers is the presence of emotional intelligence. This is because having emotional clarity allows you to make more meaningful changes when adjustments are needed.
Someone who does not know their words are perceived as rude by others will therefore not make changes to the way they speak. This, over time, will have negative effects on their relationships, their career opportunities, and ultimately their overall happiness.
Areas a Lack of Emotional Intelligence Can Negatively Impact
- Mental and physical health: Studies have linked emotional intelligence with anxiety, depression, and stress. Stress, as the American Psychological Association says, can negatively affect all physical body parts, particularly if it becomes chronic.
- Relationships: When EQ is low, open communication and other necessary elements of fostering healthy relationships often suffer. Without understanding your emotions or the emotions of others, one will not be able to communicate effectively and make changes to build stronger bonds.
- Career or school: Performance success requires more than a high IQ. It requires forming connections, using good judgment, and working with other perspectives and skills effectively. As an article from La Trobe University explains, having EI at work leads to getting hired and promoted more, earning higher salaries, and increasing team productivity.
4 Ways to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
1. Build Connection and Trust With Self-Awareness
“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me.”John C. Maxwell
Self-awareness helps people effectively communicate with others during periods of growth and stress. Those who self-reflect before speaking or acting can adjust how they deliver messages in a way that makes others feel motivated, seen, and heard. Doing so creates a sense of inspiration and unity, even in the face of challenges.
How to increase self-awareness:
- Define your intentions: Communicating intentions establishes a clear picture of success, gives the conversation meaning, and gets everyone working toward the same goal.
- Invite feedback: Feedback helps people become better at controlling negative behaviors. When asking for feedback, be approachable and accountable. Conversations regarding places you could improve give people a chance to express themselves and convey any roadblocks or areas of friction.
- Address feelings as they occur: Instead of repressing feelings, lean into them by developing a mindfulness practice, practicing breathing techniques, doing a 15-minute meditation, writing in a journal, or conducting a self-evaluation.
2. Learn to “Read the Room” With Social Awareness
“Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.”Dr. Brené Brown
One of the key ways of building awareness of the subtle social cues within a group is by practicing empathy. In Daring Greatly, research professor Brené Brown describes empathy as, “simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of you’re not alone.”
Empathy is also a part of social awareness or being able to understand verbal and nonverbal cues that allow you to react in a way that serves the needs of others. In short, it’s knowing how to “read the room” and conduct yourself in a manner that will produce the best results.
In the workplace, it’s as CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella describes to Harvard Business Review: “It’s because it’s those human connections that get people to stay in a place. Without that, without that connection to your manager, without the connection to other employees, I don’t think it would work.”
How to improve social awareness:
- Set other thoughts aside and focus on the interaction.
- Be curious about noticeable changes in others’ body language.
- Pay close attention to any shifts in your own emotions.
- Practice active listening.
3. Strengthen Self-Management for Emotional Control
“Self-management, therefore, is all about becoming your own leader by training your mental, physical, social, and intellectual faculties in different ways.”dr. prem jagyasi
It can be easy to lose control of our reactions when we become stressed, angry, or anxious. Perhaps this means withdrawing and isolating yourself, lashing out at others, or becoming passive-aggressive. Learning how to self-manage is an important part of emotional intelligence because it dictates how you respond to the world around you. When healthy and controlled responses are practiced, regardless of one’s emotions, you become better able to control outcomes.
How to improve self-management:
- Practice remaining present in the moment.
- Pause before reacting.
- Communicate clearly and more effectively.
- Learn to control automatic or impulsive behaviors.
- Use positive self-talk.
4. Practice Relationship Management for Stronger Bonds
“93/7 Rule: 93% of communication occurs through nonverbal behavior and tone; only 7% of communication takes place through the use of words.”john stoker
Another component of the social side of EI is relationship management. Relationship management is what drives positive outcomes and builds greater relationships in the workplace. Goleman says relationship management includes: the development of others, inspirational leadership, being a change catalyst, influence, conflict management, teamwork, and collaboration. These are all leadership qualities needed to positively affect the lives of others and guide a group toward achieving a collective, overarching goal.
How to improve relationship management:
- Identify what your own nonverbal cues say to others.
- Reframe your mind to see disagreements as learning opportunities.
- Reduce tension and build connection by remaining light-hearted and empathetic.
Leveraging Emotions for Heightened Personal Success
“As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, your brain builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. Before long, you begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it.”dr. travis bradberry
Building emotional intelligence doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an intentional action that improves gradually over time with practice. By implementing new daily strategies for increasing self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management, your EQ will improve naturally.
Things you can do today to begin increasing your emotional intelligence:
- Read Emotional Intelligence: For a Better Life, Success at Work, and Happier Relationships by Brandon Goleman.
- Take an online course for developing empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Practice mindfulness and awareness with a daily guided meditation.
- Begin journaling each day for improved emotion recognition and management.
To harness EI in your career, read more about emotional intelligence in the workplace.
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- Bradberry, Travis. “Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business.” Entrepreneur, 21 Jan. 2015, https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/why-you-need-emotional-intelligence-to-succeed-in-business/241998.