What Is
Emotional Intelligence?

By Mark Connelly
Updated: 12 September 2020

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence consists of a range of skills and abilities related to understanding, controlling and managing your emotions or feelings - and the emotions of others. Apply the skills of Emotional Intelligence to improve your confidence, relationships and success.

Emotional intelligence emphasizes that awareness, control and management of our feelings - and the emotions of other people - will improve our opportunities.

That's where the power of emotional intelligence lies: building the ability to control our emotions so we're not simply reacting to people or events around us.

This means that when we say something or take action we know why we're doing it that way.

Other people also have emotions and feelings. Emotional intelligence helps us understand their behavior and what they're thinking.

As we grow in our ability to do this we are able to influence the ways people respond to us.

Four Key Skills

In 'Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ' (1995) Daniel Goleman identifies four domains or abilities that form the basis of emotional intelligence.

Each of these domains consists of a number of abilities. Explore these further and learn to develop your emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence? - Self Awareness

Know yourself and what you're feeling...
It all starts with you! Identify your feelings and recognize how situations make you feel. This is an essential ability if you're going to manage your feelings effectively.

If you're not able to do this you'll find that you're reacting to everything that happens around you.

What is Emotional Intelligence? - Self Management


Control your reactions...
Okay, so you're aware of your emotions. Now you can use this knowledge to control how you respond.

Once you learn to choose how you respond you realize that your behavior doesn't need to depend on how you feel.

Yes! You choose how you respond and express yourself. This is self management, managing how you respond in any situation.

What is Emotional Intelligence? - Social Awareness

Understand other people's feelings
Emotional intelligence is also about understanding another person’s feelings, their needs and what they are worried about.

When you understand what other people are concerned about you are in a strong position to meet their needs.

The important word here is empathy - understanding someone else's point of view. Get this right and people will respond positively to you. Ignore it at your peril!

What is Emotional Intelligence? - Relationship Management

Communicate well and manage others
Stand up comedians, sales people, politicians, lawyers...these are examples of people who are masters at inspiring and influencing others.

They do it by being aware of how people respond to them.

Then they say or do things that win others over to their way of thinking. Managing relationships is an essential component of emotional intelligence.

Origins of Emotional Intelligence

In 1995, Daniel Goleman wrote 'Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ' which popularized the theory of emotional intelligence and made it practical to apply in our lives and work.

In the past academic intelligence (your IQ) was highly valued as the most important type of intelligence.

This was challenged in the decades before Goleman's book, resulting in a lot of research into different types of intelligence.

Two psychologists, Peter Salovey and John Mayer, first used the term ‘emotional intelligence’ in 1990.

Salovey and Mayer said that emotional intelligence was about being aware of and controlling your feelings and other people’s feelings, and the ability to use this knowledge to control our reactions.

Find out more about Emotional Intelligence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to Daniel Goleman emotional intelligence is made up of all the above abilities and is practically applied in business and in our personal lives.

Very few people ever 'master' all four domains of emotional intelligence. Building emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey of identifying areas you can improve and learning to be more effective in these areas.

Most of us have strengths in some of the four domains. Use these strengths and build your strengths in other areas.

The best part about emotional intelligence is that it can be learned, so be inspired and start building emotional intelligence right now.

Follow this link to read more about emotional intelligence and learn practical methods to enhance your emotional intelligence today.

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Learn more about developing YOUR emotional intelligence starting today.

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