What is Emotional Intelligence?


Imagine if someone you know borrowed some money from you. He made a promise to return it by the end of that month, but somehow he didn’t do it. What will your response be? Will you become furious and call him immediately to return the money, regardless of the situation? Or will you understand that the person might have been facing some financial difficulties in life so it’s better not to force someone to give your money back and wait for a couple of days? If you think of the second one as your accurate response to this situation, chances are high that you understand people and their problems and have proper control over your own emotions and thoughts.

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According to leading American psychologist David Wechsler, Intelligence is the global capacity of a person to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment. In other words, intelligence is an individual’s ability to learn from past experiences, act purposefully in the present situation and adapt to the changes of the future. While intelligence is one of the leading concepts of psychology there is a portion of intelligence that has been uncovered in recent times, the Emotional Intelligence.

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Emotions are psychological states associated with the subjective experience of an individual, accompanied by physiological and behavioural elements. So it is easy to say that, Emotional Intelligence or EQ (Emotional Quotient) is the ability to identify and regulate one’s own emotions as well as those of others. Which in turn helps an individual to solve problems effectively, communicate with others and comprehend situations better. Some experts even say that EQ is more important than IQ for a successful life.

History and Origin: where did it come from?

The term Emotional Intelligence was first used in 1985 by Wayne Payne in his doctoral thesis “A study of emotion: developing emotional intelligence; self-integration, relating to fear, pain and desire” where he discovered that the world was going through “emotional ignorance”. Wayne Payne’s findings opened a new arena for psychologists and researchers all over the world. In Payne’s dissertation, he tried to create a handbook for people all across the world to develop and nurture “emotional intelligence“. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, went in with Payne’s work and stated “ Emotional intelligence is a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p.189).

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But after 1990, when Daniel Goleman published his book “Emotional Intelligence, why EI matters more than IQ”, it came into the limelight and became a part of our society. Emotional intelligence has gained its much-awaited appreciation all across the world in recent years and it is also capturing many researchers’ attention which can clearly explain the expansion of its concepts.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

In Daniel Goleman’s book, he mentioned 5 components of Emotional intelligence. They are as follows;

1. Self-awareness:

Self-awareness is simply the identification of one’s self, its patterns, behaviours, triggers and motives. We see how our behaviour impacts others around us and ourselves. For example, when you get angry, your actions affect yourself and others around you. If you become conscious of what makes you angry, then you will be able to recognise the trigger that makes you angry easily. Likewise, when we understand our own emotions and patterns of behavior it becomes easy for us to identify the triggers and our limitations.

2. Self-regulation:

After identifying oneself, now it’s time for us to think about how we can act in a way that will not affect ourselves and others. For example, now that you have identified the trigger for your anger, instead of acting in a regular furious manner, you can control your anger more effectively. This is actually what self-regulation is for. Self-regulation is the management of one’s emotional reactions to triggers. This can be explained as simply as thinking before you act. A person who can control his/her own emotions is the ones who respond instead of reacting to stimuli.

3. Motivation:

Here motivation is all about your curiosity of self development. How much you are motivated intrinsically rather than extrinsically. Here you attain your goals because you want to become a better version of yourself rather than doing it for social recognition, fame, status, and Power. For example, you are choosing painting as a profession because you believe that it can help you attain your life goals which no other corporate job can. And that’s your definition of success.

4. Empathy:

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. If you do not judge people often, understand what they are trying to say from their perspectives, and are compassionate about listening to them, this means you are being empathetic towards others.

5. Social skills:

Social skills are simple yet important skills of life which can be very crucial to survive in a society. If you can work in a group and possess effective problem-solving skills, you can adapt to your surroundings effectively. Verbal and non-verbal communication and rapport building is always one of the major attributes of social skills and once you develop them it becomes easy for you to deal in an effective way to society.

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Signs of High Emotional Intelligence:

The person,

  • Can identify and comprehend feelings
  • Has an accurate idea about their strengths and weaknesses
  • The individual is confident and has a sense of acceptance
  • Learns from his/her mistakes
  • Can adapt to changes
  • Is particularly curious
  • Is empathetic
  • Is sensitive towards others
  • Accepts his/her mistakes
  • Is great with problem-solving
  • Doesn’t react to a situation but responds

Ways to improve Emotional Intelligence:

  • Journaling: When you write down the things that are on your mind on a piece of paper, the mind chatter reduces and you gain more clarity about your thoughts daily. Journaling helps in understanding and regulating emotions.
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices: meditation helps you in reflecting on your thoughts and understanding the inner world and mindfulness simply means being present in the moment. Both of them help in the easy identification of your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. This lets you think before you act.
  • Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises help switch off your fight-or-flight mode and make yourself calm. This helps especially in times of conflict.
  • Maintaining a to-do list: Maintaining a to-do list helps you stay motivated and work more effectively. A to-do list helps you break down your day into small pieces and helps you look into it more practically.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings: paying attention to the surroundings will help you create perspectives of people, this will make you judge less and listen more. This will also help you in gaining more acceptance of yourself and others.
  • Celebrate achievements: Celebrating small life achievements will make you feel more intrinsically motivated towards growth and development of self. This will in turn help you in gaining confidence and considering yourself as capable of love and respect.
References +
  5. The origins of Emotional Intelligence theory – Impellus
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