Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Several studies have demonstrated that individuals with purely high IQs possess a great range of intellectual interests and abilities, they have difficulty dealing with their own emotions and with the emotions of others. Other intangible characteristics and abilities, such as self-motivation, impulse control, the ability to regulate one’s own emotions, and empathizing with others clearly have an effect on a person’s accomplishments in life; these qualities have been collectively termed Emotional Intelligence. People with high emotional intelligence levels excel socially, are outgoing and cheerful, are rarely fearful or worried, and are sympathetic and caring in their relationships.

Read More: Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence can be broken down into five main domains: knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing emotions in others, and handling relationships.

Five Domains of Emotional Intelligence

1. Knowing One’s Emotions – Self Awareness

People deal with their emotions by either being aware of them, engulfed by them, or accepting of them.  Individuals who are aware of their emotions are able to manage their emotions more easily because they are able to recognize that they are feeling a particular emotion at a certain time and are able to reflect on their emotions.  Conversely, those who are engulfed by their emotions are not very aware of their own feelings, and therefore become lost in them, resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed by their emotions.  People who are accepting of their moods are clear about their feelings, but they also do not try to change them.  In addition, being aware of one’s emotions also plays a role in making decisions, such as in trusting one’s “gut feeling.”  Therefore, individuals who are aware of their own emotions are able to have a more certain sense of how they really feel about the decisions they make throughout their lives.

2. Managing Emotions – Self Regulation

Anger is a powerful emotion that builds on itself; escalating anger is caused by a series of aggravations, resulting in emotion’s ability to overcome reason.  Ways in which people manage their anger include reflection on the situation, distraction through a long walk or exercise, and relaxation.  However, if individuals are not aware of their anger, it will be difficult for them to cool off.  Worry is another emotion that can spiral out of control without careful management.  Chronic worry can lead to an intensifying cycle, possibly leading to phobias, obsessions and compulsions, or panic attacks.  Worry can also worsen feelings of melancholy and depression.  Like anger, worry can be controlled through self-awareness of its onset, and further control may be achieved through relaxation techniques.  Individuals who are able to manage their emotions can more easily rebound from setbacks, disappointments, and frustrations, while those who are poor managers of their feelings find themselves always fighting feelings of distress and anger.

3. Motivating Oneself – Motivation

Managing one’s emotions in order to reach a goal is essential for paying attention, mastery, creativity, and self-motivation.  For example, students who are anxious, angry, or depressed have difficulty learning.  Students who are overwhelmed by worry before an exam will not be able to perform well because they will be worrying about failing rather than thinking about the exam questions.  When emotions overpower concentration, as in the aforementioned situation, the working memory is overwhelmed, making even simple tasks such as reading a sentence difficult.  In contrast, positive motivation has an obvious positive function in successful individuals.  Self-motivation may include pleasure from performing the current task, a healthy degree of anxiety, optimism, or hope.  In addition, emotional self-control, or the ability to stifle impulsiveness and delay gratification, is the building block for achievement.

Successful individuals have described situations in which they have achieved a level of peak performance, and have disappeared into an ecstatic and steady absorption in the moment.  This state is called “flow” or “the zone.”  People in the flow state have perfect control over the task at hand, are able to unconsciously respond to changing demands, and receive positive self-feedback in the form of ecstasy and relaxation.  Some have proposed using the concept of flow in education.  Entry to the flow state can occur when students find a task they are skilled at, and face it at a level that slightly taxes their ability.  In addition, because being in the flow state results in positive self-feedback, students who are in flow will be more interested in what they are learning about.  Further, students in the flow state are not bored because their tasks are not too simple, nor are they worried and anxious because their tasks are not overly difficult.  Being able to get into the flow state enables outstanding performance of all types; people who have this skill tend to be more highly productive and effective in any enterprise.

4. Recognizing Emotions in Others – Empathy

Empathy, or the ability to perceive the subjective experience of another person, develops from self-awareness; if people are more understanding of their own emotions, they will be more adept in understanding the feelings of others.  The development of empathy begins in infancy through the process of attunement between parent and child.  Through attunement, parents let their children know that they have a sense of what that child is feeling.  Lack of attunement during infancy may develop into later emotional dysfunction for the child; a study demonstrated that a cohort of violent criminals had life histories that suggested emotional neglect and lack of attunement during infancy and childhood.  Not surprisingly, lack of empathy is a common characteristic in murderers, rapists, and child molesters.  In contrast, individuals who are empathic are more attuned to the subtle social signals that indicate what others need or want, making them proficient in occupations such as the caring professions, teaching, sales, and management.  In addition, empathy is the root for caring for others and acts of altruism.

5. Handling Relationships – Social Skills

While the exchange of emotions between people is often subtle and virtually unnoticeable, these emotional signals are essential in interpersonal interactions; people who are poor at receiving these cues are prone to problems in their relationships.  Individuals who possess interpersonal intelligence are skilled in organizing groups, negotiating solutions, personal connection, and social analysis.  Unlike some people who would do almost anything to gain approval, these individuals are able to please others while staying true to themselves and without compromising their own beliefs or values.  Studies of children trying to become part of an established play group have found that popular children take time to passively observe the group dynamic, eventually join the group in a tentative and cautious fashion, and then continue to observe the group’s interactions in an attempt to understand the group dynamic before entering in the group activity or conversation.  On the other hand, children who have trouble reading other’s emotions are often frustrated, unpopular, and socially isolated.  The ability to initiate and maintain relationships is due, in large part, to skill in managing emotions in others.

Article Credit: Summarized from the Book “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman.

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