What Is Emotional Intelligence?

January 28, 2021

We’ve all heard about IQ, but have you ever heard of EQ? It stands for Emotional Intelligence. But what exactly does that mean? A number of researchers have helped shape and define emotional intelligence. This list includes Howard Gardner, Peter Salovey, John Mayer and Daniel Goleman. For our purposes, we’ll use Goleman’s definition to explain emotional intelligence and why it matters in business.

In his best-selling book Working with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman defined emotional intelligence this way: It’s “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” Goleman adapted this definition of emotional intelligence into the following five abilities:

1. Self-Awareness
When you’re in the moment, are you conscious of your own feelings, or do you just react? Are you surprised when people offer criticism or do you know what you need to work on yourself? Self-awareness can help guide your decision-making process. It can prevent you from getting swept up by common emotions like anger or pride. Self-awareness is also critical to understanding your own abilities. It’s an essential element to help you keep your feet on the ground and stay confident.

2. Self-Regulation
If you’re in a meeting and a coworker cuts you off, are you able to recover and continue? Or do you let your anger boil over and call him or her out in front of everyone? Being able to regulate your emotions helps you turn your feelings into positive drivers rather than distractions. Emotional self-regulation is also a key factor in your ability to handle criticism. People who have poor self-regulation take a single negative comment and turn it into a stream of doom and gloom.

3. Motivation
What are the deepest drivers of your success? Are you aware of moments when you begin to lose your way? People that are strong in the motivational aspect of emotional intelligence are able to do more than pick themselves up when they are down. When others get lost in the everyday aspects of work, great motivators are at their strongest. They view failure as a learning experience and setbacks as opportunities yet to be discovered. Motivation lies at the heart of what keeps the most successful people going and going, long after others have given up.

4. Empathy
If you work in or aspire to a leadership role in your organization, this aspect of emotional intelligence is crucial to your success. Empathy gives you the ability to sense and understand the emotions of others. In a management role, you’ll be asked time and again to see things from someone else’s perspective. You’ll also need to form and grow relationships with a diverse group of people. Empathy allows you to connect with people.

5. Social Skills
How strong is your network? Do you remember names and faces? Strong social skills can help you meet people with whom you can interact, partner and collaborate. Social skills are also important to help you handle disagreements and be a better mediator. Your ability to read a social situation and understand the best way to proceed is dependent on your social skills. A common mistake is to assume that you need to dominate in every situation. People with the most developed set of social skills understand that it’s more important to stand out by blending in.

There are a variety of online resources that offer to assess your emotional intelligence. However, if you think about the five aspects listed here and are honest with yourself, you’ll gain a clearer picture of how you measure up.


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