What Is Emotional Intelligence?

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What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Some researchers argue that emotional intelligence can be learned and reinforced, while others argue that it is an innate trait.

The ability to express and control emotions is essential, but so is the ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others. Imagine a world where you can’t understand when a friend is feeling sad or when a coworker is angry. Psychologists call this ability emotional intelligence, and some experts even suggest that it may be more important than your IQ in your overall success in life.

How to measure emotional intelligence?

A number of different assessments have emerged that measure emotional intelligence levels. Such tests usually fall into one of two categories: self-reported tests and aptitude tests.

Self-reported tests are the most popular because they are the easiest to administer and score. In such tests, respondents respond to questions or statements by assessing their own behaviors. For example, for a statement like “I often feel that I understand how others are feeling”, the contestant could describe the statement as disagreeing, slightly disagreeing, agreeing or completely. agree.

On the other hand, aptitude tests involve people reacting to situations and then assessing their skills. Such tests typically require people to demonstrate their abilities, which are then assessed by a third party.

If you are taking an emotional intelligence test administered by a mental health professional, here are two measures that can be used:

  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is a test based on the four-pronged measureability of Mayer and Salovey’s EI model. Contestants perform tasks designed to assess their ability to perceive, identify, understand, and manage emotions.
  • Social and Emotional Competency Inventory (ESCI) is based on an older tool called the Self-Assessment Questionnaire and involves asking people who know the individual to give ratings on the person’s ability in a number of different emotional capacities. The test is designed to assess social and emotional abilities that distinguish those who are strong leaders.

There are also plenty of informal online resources, many of which are free, to investigate your emotional intelligence.

The components

Researchers suggest that there are four different levels of emotional intelligence: emotional awareness, the ability to reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotions, and the ability to manage emotions.

  1. Emotional awareness: The first step to understanding emotions is to perceive them correctly. In many cases, this may involve understanding nonverbal cues such as body language and facial expressions.
  2. Reasoning with emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we notice and react to; We react emotionally to things that grab our attention.
  3. Understanding emotions: The emotions we perceive can have many different meanings. If someone is expressing angry feelings, the observer must explain the cause of that person’s anger and what it means. For example, if your boss is angry, it could mean that they are unhappy with your job, or it could be because they were speeded on their way to work that morning, or they got into a fight with his partner.
  4. Managing emotions: The ability to effectively manage emotions is an essential part of emotional intelligence and is of the highest degree. Regulating emotions and responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspects of emotion management.

The four branches of this model are ordered by complexity with more basic processes at the lower level and more advanced processes at the higher level. For example, the lowest levels are involved in the perception and expression of emotions, while the higher levels require more conscious involvement and involve emotional regulation.

Impact of emotional intelligence

Interest in teaching and learning social and emotional intelligence has increased in recent years. Social and emotional learning (SEL) programs have become a standard part of the curriculum of many schools.

The goal of these initiatives is not only to improve health and well-being, but to help students succeed academically and to prevent bullying. There are many examples showing how emotional intelligence can play a role in everyday life.

Think before react

Emotionally intelligent people know that emotions can be strong, but they can also be temporary. When a highly emotional event occurs, such as becoming angry at a coworker, an emotionally intelligent response will be to take some time before reacting. This allows people to calm their emotions and think more rationally about all the factors surrounding the argument.

Better self-awareness

Emotionally intelligent people are not only good at thinking about other people’s feelings, they are also very good at understanding their own emotions. Self-awareness allows people to consider many different factors that contribute to their emotions.

Empathize with others

A big part of emotional intelligence is being able to think about and empathize with how others are feeling. This often involves considering how you would react if you were in a similar situation.

People with strong emotional intelligence are able to consider the views, experiences, and feelings of others and use this information to explain why people behave the way they do.


Emotional intelligence can be used in many different ways in your daily life. Some different ways to exercise emotional intelligence include:

  • Can accept criticism and take responsibility
  • Can continue after making a mistake
  • Can say no when you need it
  • Can share your feelings with others
  • Can solve problems in ways that work for everyone
  • Have empathy for others
  • Have great listening skills
  • Know why you do what you do
  • Do not judge others

Emotional intelligence is essential for good interpersonal communication. Some experts believe that this ability is more important in determining success in life than IQ. Fortunately, there are things you can do to boost your own social and emotional intelligence.

Understanding emotions can be the key to better relationships, improved health, and stronger communication skills.

Press Play for advice on how to be less judgmental

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Tips to improve EI

Emotional intelligence is important, but what steps can you take to improve your own social and emotional skills? Here are some tips.

To listen

If you want to understand what other people are feeling, the first step is to pay attention. Take the time to listen to what people are trying to tell you, both verbally and non-verbally. Body language can mean a lot. When you feel someone is feeling a certain way, consider different factors that may be contributing to that emotion.


Being emotional is paramount, but you also need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to really understand their point of view. Practice empathy with others. Imagine how you would feel in their situation. Such activities can help you build emotional understanding of a particular situation as well as develop stronger emotional skills in the long run.


The ability to reason with emotions is an important part of emotional intelligence. Consider how your own emotions influence your decisions and behaviour. When you’re thinking about how others react, assess the role their emotions play.

Why does this person feel this way? Are there any unseen factors that could be contributing to these feelings? How do your feelings differ from theirs? As you explore such questions, you may find it easier to understand the role emotions play in how people think and behave.

Potential pitfalls

Having lower emotional intelligence skills can lead to a number of potential pitfalls that can affect many areas of life including work and relationships.

People with less emotional skills tend to argue more, have lower quality relationships, and have poor emotional coping skills.

Low emotional intelligence can have some limitations, but having very high emotional skills can also come with challenges. For example:

  • Research shows that people with high emotional intelligence may actually be less creative and innovative.
  • Emotionally intelligent people may have a hard time giving negative feedback for fear of hurting other people’s feelings.
  • Research has found that high EQ can sometimes be used for manipulation and deceptive purposes.

History of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence as a term didn’t appear in our mother tongue until about 1990. Although a relatively new term, interest in the concept has grown tremendously since there.

Early growth

As early as the 1930s, psychologist Edward Thorndike described the concept of “social intelligence” as the ability to get along with others. In the 1940s, psychologist David Wechsler proposed that different effective components of intelligence could play a significant role in how successful people were in life.

Later development

The 1950s saw the rise of the school of thought known as humanistic psychology, and thinkers like Abraham Maslow focused more on the different ways in which humans could build strength. feeling.

Another important concept that emerged in the development of emotional intelligence is the concept of multiple intelligences. The concept was introduced in the mid-1970s by Howard Gardner, introducing the idea that intelligence is not just a generic ability.

The emergence of emotional intelligence

It wasn’t until 1985 that the term “emotional intelligence” was first used in Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis. In 1987, an article was published in Mensa magazineKeith Beasley uses the term “emotional quotient.”

In 1990, psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer published their landmark paper, “Emotional Intelligence,” in the journal Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Perception and Personality. They define emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, distinguish between them, and use this information to guide one’s thoughts and actions.”

In 1995, the concept of emotional intelligence was popularized after the publication of the book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Might Be More Important Than IQ” by Daniel Goleman.

The topic of emotional intelligence has continued to attract public interest since then and has become important in fields beyond psychology including education and business.

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