Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence was first described by Daniel Goleman, PhD, in the Harvard Business Review. Dr. Goleman has described many important scientific discoveries about emotions and human behavior in his book, “Emotional Intelligence.” The book organizes the information into a description of how emotion drives behavior, and describes intelligent ways of managing both.

According to Goleman, people who know and monitor their own feelings and recognize and deal with the feelings of others, have advantages in all areas of life, but those who cannot get a control over their emotional lives battle constantly and this prevent them to produce continued work and clear thoughts.

He has identified a set of competencies that differentiate individuals with Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman’s Model: Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence consists of two kinds of abilities. The vertical axis describes awareness vs. behavior. “What You See” (left column) is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and in others and “What You Do” (right column) is the ability to manage your own emotions and behaviors to interact effectively with other people. The horizontal axis describes an individual perspective vs. group/interactive perspective. What I’m aware of and how I manage myself (top row) and what’s happening with others and how I manage those relationships (bottom row). All four perspectives should be considered in order to have the most positive result in your interactions with others.

Goleman's Model of Emotional Intelligence - Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness means being aware of your own emotions, and being able to identify them correctly. This is the most important of the EI skills. It allows you to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses. If you are aware of your feelings, you know what causes you to feel happy, proud, alarmed, disgusted, and so on.  These are your biases, positive as well as negative. When you are aware of your feelings you can more easily manage your own reactions and your behavior. This is very important to managing relationships with others successfully.

2. Self-Management

Self-Management is the ability to control your emotional reactions while still behaving with honesty and integrity. A person who is emotionally intelligent does not let bad moods or a strong emotional reaction govern his or her behavior. She or he is able to be honest and frank in a calm manner, without attacking others. When moods or feelings are too strong to set aside, an emotionally intelligent person lets others know she/he is upset, and how long this is likely to last so they know what to expect and can adjust.

Self-Management also means being able to direct your own behavior toward a goal. It means being able to put off gratification in the present in order to get better results at a future time, like saving money now to buy a house later. And it means being able to motivate yourself to stick with something over time, even though it may be difficult and time consuming.

3. Social Awareness

Social awareness has two parts: empathy, and attention (noticing how others are reacting to you).

Empathy means being able to sense what the other person is feeling, and to know what their emotion feels like from your own experience. It does not necessarily mean you agree with the other person. However it does mean that you know how they feel and can communicate that you understand, and that you care.

The other part of social awareness is attention or knowing how other people are reacting, or anticipating how they are likely to react to what you do and say. It means having a sense of how others feel when you announce a change, make a request, or simply make a statement. Once you have the ability to sense how others react, you can be more effective in choosing how to deliver a message. This lays the foundation for the fourth skill, relationship management.

4. Relationship Management

Relationship management includes the ability to communicate in a clear and convincing way. Being clear means being able to say what you mean simply, and being able to offer examples.

Being convincing does not rely on rational argument. It relies on understanding how people feel and what emotions are important in their decision-making process. You can observe this in the way national and community leaders attempt to influence their constituents. They will typically talk about issues of security, faith, family, health and prosperity – all things that have a strong emotional impact on people. This does not mean you should abandon rational argument, it means you must also understand how to use emotion to communicate and persuade.

A person who is emotionally intelligent can communicate ideas, information, and requests to others effectively. They pay attention to how others are reacting and adjust their approach to get a better result. Because they pay attention to emotional response, they are often able to predict how others will react and plan accordingly. They are often quite good at building enthusiasm and calming down interpersonal conflicts. The key is social awareness and flexibility in how they talk to other people. They can adjust words, non-verbal behavior, and timing to get the best reaction from others.


Emotional intelligence is a set of skills that involve the ability to identify and monitor their own thoughts, as well as those of others, using them to steer the way of thinking and acting.  Emotional intelligence is therefore an ability, single or composite, which helps people to harmonize it.

  • Self-Awareness: Capacity for understanding one’s emotions, one’s strengths, and one’s weaknesses.
  • Self-Management: Capacity for effectively managing one’s motives and regulating one’s behavior.
  • Social Awareness: Capacity for understanding what others are saying and feeling and why they feel and act as they do.
  • Relationship Management: Capacity for acting in such a way that one is able to get desired results from others and reach personal goals.

A person who masters the first three is in a better position to effectively manage relationships. Each of these four domains comprises a number of functional units or competencies. Developing competencies across these four main areas is essential for success in life and the workplace.

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