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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever encountered someone who completely overreacted or was angry at you for something you said? Thinking back on this situation, would you say it was entirely that person's fault? Could you have picked up some cues and been more aware of how that person would react? Would you have initiated another course of action and created a better outcome?

Suppose you have faced a similar situation before or feel you should improve your perception of others' emotions. In that case, you might be interested to read this explanation as we will have a closer look at what emotional intelligence is, its elements, and how you can improve it.

Emotional Intelligence Definition

When thinking about emotional intelligence, several things come to mind: social skills, reading people's emotions, empathy, listening skills, etc. However, this field of study is still relatively new; it was only in 1995 that Daniel Goleman popularized it in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ".1

Someone's emotional intelligence is their capability to perceive, understand and use emotions to communicate effectively with others.

Emotional intelligence is a different concept from what is traditionally perceived as intelligence. Today every leader is expected to have a high degree of emotional intelligence to be successful at managing their employees and organization, which is why it's essential to understand this concept properly.

People often think that having a high IQ means a person is incredibly intelligent and will likely succeed in everything they do. However, things are a bit more complex than that, as IQ tests only evaluate specific types of intelligence, such as logico-mathematics and linguistics. In fact, many people with high IQs have notoriously poor social skills.

According to Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, there are at least eight different types of intelligence:

  • Linguistic: capacity to read, write, understand, etc.
  • Logical-Mathematical: mathematical capacity, logic, problem-solving, etc.
  • Interpersonal: can be referred to as emotional intelligence.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to be mindful, to understand ourselves, etc.
  • Spatial: the ability to understand and utilize the space around us (sports, puzzles, etc.).
  • Bodily-kinesthetic: the capacity to control our body perfectly.
  • Musical: listening, sensing the rhythm, playing music, etc.
  • Naturalist: understand the nature around us: plants, animals, etc.

Gardner believed that we use not only one intelligence but multiple at once while performing a specific task.

You can check out our explanation of Theories of Intelligence for more information on the types of intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence Theories

Daniel Goleman established one of the prominent emotional intelligence theories in his book "Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ." He described the importance of emotional intelligence in people's success and defined five crucial elements of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: it's the capacity to be aware of your emotions, understand them and perceive the impact of your actions on others.

  • Self-regulation: it's the control over your emotions, impulses, and moods. It's the capability to express your feelings appropriately.

  • Motivation: having a purpose, a passion, or a specific goal can help you drive your actions and make better decisions.

  • Empathy: it's the capability to perceive and understand other people's emotions, as well as appropriately respond to them.

  • Social skills: it's the ability to communicate and connect with others.2

Learning those elements can help you master your emotional intelligence and increase your chances of success in life.

There are three main branches of emotional intelligence beliefs:

The ability model: the idea is that you need the four following skills to be emotionally intelligent:

  • Perceive emotions,
  • Reason and think with your emotions,
  • Understand your emotions,
  • Manage emotions.

The trait model: the idea is that emotional intelligence is a personality trait and not an ability that can be taught.

The mixed model: the idea is that emotional intelligence is a mix of skills, personality traits, and other qualities such as being observant, a good listener, etc.

Emotional Intelligence Skills

Now that you have a better grasp of emotional intelligence and its elements, it's time to see how you can improve it.

  • Self-awareness: there are various practices and exercises you can do to improve your self-awareness: meditation can help you connect to yourself, keeping a journal of what you do can help you reflect on your actions, asking for constructive feedback can help you see yourself from someone's else perspective, trying to analyze people's reactions to what you do will help you understand the impact of your actions, etc.

  • Self-regulation: it's not about stopping having any feelings and emotions; it is about controlling your burst of unwanted emotions and appropriately expressing them. When someone comes up with a problem, try to have a problem-solving spirit and solve the issue instead of reacting to it. Remember that every decision you make is your choice, including how you respond to events.

  • Motivation: finding a purpose and creating personal goals can be beneficial in your decision-making process, as you will often act with purpose towards the goals you seek. You can improve by setting small goals and celebrating achievements.

  • Empathy: Being able to walk in somebody else's shoes and understand their feelings is a critical skill. To improve, you must practice your active listening skills and understand how people feel based on their personal history.

  • Social skills: you can practice your social skills by listening more to others, observing how they talk, being genuinely interested in what they say, participating in networking events, etc.

As you can see, there are many exercises and actions to improve your emotional intelligence. The only thing left to do for you is to take the first step forward.

Emotional Intelligence of a Leader

Being emotionally intelligent is a crucial skill for leaders as it helps them in many aspects of their daily tasks: successfully communicate with their team, appropriately allocate employees to fulfill specific duties, defuse arguments before problems arise, etc. So let's look at the differences between high and low-emotional intelligence leaders in the workplace.

High Emotional Intelligence

There are many benefits of having a leader with high emotional intelligence:

  • Better self-awareness: Self-aware leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. As such, they can allocate the right people to the right job and adequately delegate tasks.

  • Job satisfaction: Employees are more satisfied when leaders listen to them and genuinely care about their opinions.

  • Foreseen problems: Leaders with high emotional intelligence will be able to see the early signs of trouble between coworkers and hopefully can defuse the situation before it becomes harmful.

  • Better decision-making: Leaders with high emotional intelligence know how their employees will react to their decisions as they will understand how they are affected. They can therefore choose the most appropriate path.

Overall, leaders with high emotional intelligence can increase an organization's productivity and employees' well-being.

Low Emotional Intelligence

On the other hand, leaders with low emotional intelligence can create various issues:

  • Lack of self-regulation: when leaders are notoriously prompt to emotional bursts and often shout at people, employees will avoid bringing them bad news or even hide it. This situation could create many issues that could have been solved on time if leaders knew about them.

  • Demotivation: when leaders don't pay attention to their employees' opinions or how their actions will affect them, employees can feel demotivated, affecting their productivity.

  • Bad communication: miscommunication problems might occur because leaders fail to communicate appropriately.

When leaders lack emotional intelligence, it can decrease productivity and reduce employees' job satisfaction.

Emotional Intelligence Examples

Let's take two hypothetical examples to show you the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Both situations have a similar setup:

It's a company that sells office furniture; it's almost the end of the year, and the director reviews their sales representative's performance. Unfortunately, one of them is underperforming and has yet to reach his quota. So the director decided to meet and discuss this situation with them.

In the first situation, the director has low emotional intelligence. During the meeting, the employee stated that things weren't going great and that he was going through a divorce; furthermore, he had problems closing a deal with a big customer. The director is insensible and answers that life is hard and that we all have problems at home. He said that he understands the situation is hard for him, but he has to keep it together to reach his sales quota.

=> The result is that the employee is not more motivated than before.

In the second situation, the director has a higher emotional intelligence, and his response is more humane: "I am sorry to hear that; we were not aware of the situation you are facing; please let us know if you would like some time off or if there is anything else we can do. Actually, I might be able to help you as I know someone in that company, and I think I can help you close this deal."

=> The result might be a bit more positive as the director tries to help the employee close a deal to cheer him up, and the employee feels that the director genuinely cares about his situation.

From this situation, you can see that the second director's approach was better, and he got more chances to reach his annual sales goal simply because he showed some compassion and tried to help the employee.

As you have seen throughout this explanation, emotional intelligence is crucial in the workplace. High emotional intelligence can create a great work environment and improve overall job satisfaction and performance in the workplace. On the other hand, a low level of emotional intelligence will create stress, a bad working environment, and problems within the organization.

Emotional Intelligence - Key takeaways

  • Someone's emotional intelligence is their capability to perceive, understand and use emotions to communicate effectively with others.
  • According to Howard Gardner, there are at least eight types of intelligence: Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal intelligence, Spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, and Naturalist.
  • Daniel Goleman defined five crucial elements of emotional intelligence:
    • Self-awareness: it's the capacity to be aware of your emotions, understand them and perceive the impact of your actions on others.
    • Self-regulation: it's the control over your emotions, impulses, and moods. It's the capability to express your feelings appropriately.
    • Motivation: having a purpose, a passion, or a specific goal can help you drive your actions and make better decisions.
    • Empathy: it's the capability to perceive and understand other people's emotions, as well as appropriately respond to them.
    • Social skills: it's the ability to communicate and connect with others.
  • To improve your emotional intelligence skills, you can practice exercises that will train the five elements of emotional intelligence.
  • Leaders with high emotional intelligence can increase an organization's productivity and employees' well-being. On the other hand, when leaders lack emotional intelligence, it can decrease productivity and reduce employees' job satisfaction.

References

  1. Kendra Cherry. What Is Emotional Intelligence? 07/11/2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-intelligence-2795423
  2. Daniel Goleman. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. 1995.
  3. Coventry University. What are the three types of emotional intelligence? https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/emotional-intelligence-at-work/0/steps/62998#:~:text=There%20are%20three%20main%20branches%20of%20emotional%20intelligence%20%E2%80%93%20the%20ability,model%20and%20the%20mixed%20model.

Frequently Asked Questions about Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman defined five crucial elements of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: it's the capacity to be aware of your emotions, understand them and perceive the impact of your actions on others.  
  • Self-regulation: it's the control over your emotions, impulses, and moods. It's the capability to express your feelings appropriately. 
  • Motivation: having a purpose, a passion, or a specific goal can help you drive your actions and make better decisions. 
  • Empathy: it's the capability to perceive and understand other people's emotions, as well as appropriately respond to them. 
  • Social skills: it's the ability to communicate and connect with others

Someone's emotional intelligence is their capability to perceive, understand and use emotions to communicate effectively with others.  

To improve your emotional intelligence skills, you can practice exercises that will train the five elements of emotional intelligence. 

  • Self-awareness: there are various practices and exercises you can do to improve your self-awareness: meditation can help you connect to yourself, keep a journal of what you do and come back to it to reflect on your actions, ask for constructive feedback can help you see yourself from someone's else perspective, try to analyze people's reactions to what you do will help you understand the impact of your actions, etc.
  • Self-regulation: it's not about stopping having any feelings and emotions; it is about controlling your burst of unwanted emotions and appropriately expressing them. When someone comes up with a problem, try to have a problem-solving spirit and solve the issue instead of reacting to it. Remember that every decision you make is your choice, including how you respond to events.
  • Motivation: finding a purpose and creating personal goals can be beneficial in your decision-making process, as you will often act with purpose towards the goals you seek. You can improve by setting small goals and celebrating achievements.
  • Empathy: Being able to put into somebody else shoes and understand their feelings is a critical skill to have. To improve, you must practice your active listening skills and understand how people feel based on their personal history.
  • Social skills: you can practice your social skills by listening more to others, observing how they talk, being genuinely interested in what they say, participating in networking events, etc.

High emotional intelligence can create a great work environment and improve overall job satisfaction and performance in the workplace. On the other hand, a low level of emotional intelligence will create stress, a bad working environment, and problems within the organization. 

Being emotionally intelligent is a crucial skill for leaders as it can help them in many aspects of their daily tasks: successfully communicate with their team, appropriately allocate employees to fulfill specific duties, defuse arguments before problems arise, etc.

There are three main branches of emotional intelligence beliefs:


1. The ability model: the idea is that you need four skills to be emotionally intelligent:

  • Perceive emotions
  • Reason and think with your emotions
  • Understand your emotions
  • Manage emotions


2. The trait model: the idea is that emotional intelligence is a personality trait and not an ability that can be taught.


3. The mixed model: the idea is that emotional intelligence is a mix of skills, personality traits, and other qualities such as being observant, a good listener, etc.

Final Emotional Intelligence Quiz

Question

What is emotional intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

Someone's emotional intelligence is their capability to perceive, understand and use emotions to communicate effectively with others.

Show question

Question

Who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of emotional intelligence in 1995, in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ".

Show question

Question

Why having a high IQ does not automatically mean someone is incredibly intelligent?

Show answer

Answer

People often think that having a high IQ means a person is incredibly intelligent and will likely succeed in everything they do. However, things are a bit more complex than that, as IQ tests only evaluate specific types of intelligence, such as logico-mathematics and linguistics. In fact, many people with high IQs have notoriously poor social skills. 

Show question

Question

Which one of this intelligence is not one of Howard Garnder's from his theory of Multiple intelligences?

Show answer

Answer

Economic

Show question

Question

What is bodily-kinesthetic intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

The capacity to control our body perfectly.

Show question

Question

According to Daniel Goleman, what are the five crucial elements of emotional intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills


Show question

Question

What is empathy?

Show answer

Answer

It's the ability to perceive and understand other people's emotions and appropriately respond to them. 

Show question

Question

____________ is the ability to be aware of your emotions, understand them and perceive the impact of your actions on others. 

Show answer

Answer

Self-awareness

Show question

Question

_____________ is the control over your emotions, impulses, and moods. It's the capability to express your feelings appropriately.  

Show answer

Answer

Self-regulation

Show question

Question

How can you improve your self-awareness?

Show answer

Answer

Meditation can help you connect to yourself, keeping a journal of what you do can help you reflect on your actions, asking for constructive feedback can help you see yourself from someone's else perspective, trying to analyze people's reactions to what you do will help you understand the impact of your actions, etc.

Show question

Question

Why is emotional intelligence so important?

Show answer

Answer

High emotional intelligence can create a great work environment and improve overall job satisfaction and performance in the workplace. On the other hand, a low level of emotional intelligence will create stress, a bad working environment, and problems within the organization.

Show question

Question

What are the three types of emotional intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

  1. The ability model
  2. The trait model
  3. The mixed model

Show question

Question

What is the ability model?

Show answer

Answer

It's a theory that states that people need four skills to be emotionally intelligent:


  • Perceive emotions,
  • Reason and think with your emotions,
  • Understand your emotions,
  • Manage emotions.

Show question

Question

Which one of these models is not one of the three types of emotional intelligence?

Show answer

Answer

The ability model

Show question

Question

What is the mixed model?

Show answer

Answer

A theory stating that emotional intelligence is a mix of skills, personality traits, and other qualities such as being observant, a good listener, etc. 

Show question

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