Classic Intelligence and rational thinking have dominated Western Society for centuries. It was Freud who showed, through his analysis of the unconscious, that there is more to us than rational thinking. Since Freud, the development of psychology has brought the insight that a person’s actions are not just rational or logical, Emotional Intelligence seems a good name to name our “non-rational” way of thinking and being.
“In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.” (John Gottman, Ph.D)
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Quite simply, emotional intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions: You intentionally make your emotions work for you by using them to help guide your behavior and thinking in ways that enhance your results.
There are varied definitions of emotional intelligence and considering any one as a standard definition has become virtually impossible. Some of the following are most popularly used definitions of Emotional Intelligence, used by majority of the scholars and researchers in the field of Emotional Intelligence.
- “Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80% of the “success” in our lives.” (Freedman)
- “Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.” (Salovey and Mayer)
- “Emotional Intelligence refers to the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships.” (Daniel Goleman)
- “Emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.” (Dr. Robert K. Cooper)
- “Emotional-Social Intelligence is a cross section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves , understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands.” (Bar-On)
- “Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability, capacity, and skill or in the case of the trait EI, a self-perceived ability, to indentify, assess and manage the emotion of one’s self of others and of groups. It is part of art of managing people at the workplace.” (Bradberry, Travis and Greaves, Jean)
Emotional Intelligence can further be described as:
- Knowing one’s emotions. Self awareness — recognizing a feeling as it happens.
- Managing emotions. Handling feelings so they are appropriate, is an ability that builds on self awareness.
- Motivating oneself.
- Recognizing emotions in others
- Handling relationships
Managing your Emotions
- Recognize and control emotional impulses, so that you can stop your emotions from managing you.
- Learn to manage your emotions.
- Relive experiences and be able to dissociate from them so that they don’t affect you and you can learn from them.
- Re-assess the emotions you like and have more of them more of the time.
- Choose your emotional state: e.g. confident, resolved, easy going.
- Motivate yourself.
- Your mind and your body are inseparable and operate as one single system. What effects one affects the other and vice versa.
- An emotion is something you do, a specific product of human functioning. They can be charted and organised.
- There is a context for which anything you do may be appropriate.
- You have within you all the resources to achieve what you want. You just don’t know how to assess these resources as much as you’d like, yet. If somebody can do something, so can you.
At this stage, the biggest challenge you encounter may be to control your emotions. By learning to do this you will be able to manage them and restructure them in the way you desire.
- Emotions can be used as a goal on their own (e.g. being relaxed, having fun, power). Ideally you should be able to remain in a resourceful state in an ongoing fashion, as it will act as a filter which will color your everyday experiences in the best possible manner.
- You can also use emotion as a resource for reaching a goal, i.e. use it as a means to an end. For example, although anger is often perceived as negative, provided it is in the right proportion, focused on the right person, in the right place and at the right time, it may be the appropriate emotion to have. By learning to separate an emotion from the context where it emerges spontaneously and to consciously apply it in other, perhaps more appropriate context, you can develop your emotional competence.
Nature of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the new yardstick which is increasingly applied to assess a person’s well-being in life. Shaped by childhood experience “Emotional Intelligence’ can be nurtured and strengthened throughout adulthood with immediate benefit to our health, relationship and work. Emotionally intelligent people have the ability to empathize, can preserve, control impulses, communicate clearly, make thoughtful decisions, solve problems and work with others that earn them success. At school they do better on tests and helps to create a safe, comfortable classroom atmosphere that makes it easier to learn. To Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence does not always mean ‘being nice’ or giving free rein to feelings, rather, it means managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and affectively, enabling people to work together smoothly toward their common goal.
The nature of emotional intelligence as envisaged by Goleman can be summarized as;
- Emotional intelligence is as powerful, and at times more powerful than IQ. While IQ contributes only about 20% of success in life, the other forces contribute the rest.
- Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence may be the best predictor of success in life.
- Emotional intelligence is not fixed genetically, rather it is largely learned and continued to develop throughout life.
- The concept of emotional intelligence is to be applauded not because it is totally new but because it captures the essence of what our children or all of us need to know for productive and happy.
- In working situations too, emotional intelligence helps more than one’s intellectual potential in terms of one’s IQ or even professional skills and competencies.
- Emotional intelligence develops with increasing age and experience, as a person progresses from childhood to adulthood.
- Men and women have a personal profile of strength and weaknesses in Emotional intelligence abilities, while women tend to be stronger in competencies based on empathy and social skills, men do better in those based on self regulation.
- People’s emotions are rarely put into words rather they expressed through other cues. The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read non-verbal channels like communicating through eye contact, tone of voice, gestures, facial expression.
External Links about Emotional Intelligence:
- Emotional Intelligence: What it is and Why it Matters (EI Consortium)
- What Makes a Leader? (Harvard Business Review)