Have you ever asked yourself that question? It’s a good one. As someone who has studied the topic for several years, I ask it to myself over and over. Here’s the thing: There’s two answers to that question. One’s simple, the other’s complex. Let’s start with the complex one.
(I know, I know, you probably want the simple one first. But it’ll be helpful to communicate some nuance.)
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. Researchers and practitioners may divide it into different facets, but they usually contain elements of the following four abilities:
Self-awareness: the ability to identify and understand emotions in yourself.
Self management: the ability to manage those emotions and keep them from causing you to act (or refrain from acting) in a way that you later regret.
Social awareness: the ability to identify and understand emotions in others.
Relationship management: the ability to provide and receive benefits from your relationships with others.
Although these four abilities, or facets, of emotional intelligence are connected and complement one another, they aren’t always dependent on each other. In other words, you will likely excel in one or more aspects and be weaker in another.
Additionally, a deeper understanding of emotional intelligence will involve understanding different parts of our brain like the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, and how those parts of the brain work together to process thoughts and emotions.
Finally, it’s important to know that much like what we think of as traditional intelligence, emotional intelligence is not inherently virtuous. That means people use it to accomplish all sorts of goals, some that many would define as “evil,” as well as “good.” Ok. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the simple answer.
The simple answer
Emotional intelligence is making emotions work for you, instead of against you. Some students of emotional intelligence will say this is over-simplifying things–but I disagree.
Look, here are the facts. As humans, we’re emotional creatures. Emotions play a major role in every decision we make. Therefore, the more you learn about how your and others’ emotions work, how they affect your decision making and everyday life, and how to manage them, the better off you will be…most of the time.
Why most of the time? Well, remember: With great power, comes great responsibility.The more emotional intelligence you have, the more power you have. And power corrupts. That’s why emotional intelligence is only one part of the equation. You also need morals and ethics to help you manage that power…and of course, there are other forms of intelligence, such as what is traditionally known as general intelligence (the g factor).
Or, if you subscribe to the theories of Howard Gardner, there are other forms of intelligence (such as musical intelligence, or bodily-kinesthetic intelligence).So, what does emotional intelligence look like in real life? It comes in different packages, shapes, and sizes:
It’s the leader who knows how to inspire and rally the troops. It’s the follower who knows which leader to follow–along with when and how to speak up. It’s the extrovert who knows when to pull back. It’s the introvert who knows when to push forward. It’s the teacher who makes the dullest subject come to life.
It’s the student who makes their teacher feel they’ve chosen the best job in the world. It’s the doctor who listens to their patients. It’s the patients who listen to their doctor. (But also know when to get a second opinion.) It’s the artist who channels their feelings to create something beautiful.
It’s the audience who can appreciate the beauty. Emotional intelligence is a spectrum. Like everyone, you have emotional strengths and weaknesses. As you become aware of your own, strive to learn from those who are different from you. As you do, you’ll see how to leverage the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses.
That’s making emotions work for you, instead of against you.
- Beldoch, Michael; Davitz, Joel Robert (1976). The communication of emotional meaning. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 39. OCLC 647368022.
- Goleman D (1998). “What Makes a Leader?”. Harvard Business Review. 76: 92–105.
- Petrides KV, Furnham A (November 2001). “Trait Emotional Intelligence: Psychometric Investigation with Reference to Established Trait Taxonomies”. European Journal of Personality. 15 (6): 425–48. doi:10.1002/per.416. S2CID 144031083.
- Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR (July 2004). “Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Findings, and Implications”. Psychological Inquiry. 15 (3): 197–215. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli1503_02. S2CID 144415437.
- Durand K, Gallay M, Seigneuric A, Robichon F, Baudouin JY (May 2007). “The development of facial emotion recognition: the role of configural information” (PDF). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 97 (1): 14–27. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2006.12.001. PMID 17291524.
- Bänziger T (2014). “Measuring Emotion Recognition Ability”. In Michalos AC (ed.). Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. pp. 3934–3941. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_4188. ISBN 978-94-007-0753-5.
- “Scientists Complete 1st Map of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in the Brain”. US News and World Report. 2013-01-28. Archived from the original on 2014-08-14.
- Kosonogov VV, Vorobyeva E, Kovsh E, Ermakov PN (2019). “A review of neurophysiological and genetic correlates of emotional intelligence” (PDF). International Journal of Cognitive Research in Science, Engineering and Education. 7 (1): 137–142. doi:10.5937/IJCRSEE1901137K. ISSN 2334-847X.
- Harms PD, Credé M (2010). “Remaining Issues in Emotional Intelligence Research: Construct Overlap, Method Artifacts, and Lack of Incremental Validity”. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice. 3 (2): 154–158. doi:10.1111/j.1754-9434.2010.01217.x. S2CID 144371039.
- Cavazotte F, Moreno V, Hickmann M (2012). “Effects of leader intelligence, personality and emotional intelligence on transformational leadership and managerial performance”. The Leadership Quarterly. 23 (3): 443–455. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.10.003.
- Joseph DL, Newman DA (January 2010). “Emotional intelligence: an integrative meta-analysis and cascading model”. The Journal of Applied Psychology. 95 (1): 54–78. doi:10.1037/a0017286. PMID 20085406.
- O’Boyle Jr EH, Humphrey RH, Pollack JM, Hawver TH, Story PA (2011-07-01). “The relation between emotional intelligence and job performance: A meta-analysis”. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 32 (5): 788–818. doi:10.1002/job.714. ISSN 1099-1379.
- Joseph DL, Jin J, Newman DA, O’Boyle EH (March 2015). “Why does self-reported emotional intelligence predict job performance? A meta-analytic investigation of mixed EI”. The Journal of Applied Psychology. 100 (2): 298–342. doi:10.1037/a0037681. PMID 25243996.
- Dhani, Priyam (5 March 2021). “EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE; HISTORY, MODELS AND MEASURES”. Research Gate.
- Beldoch M (1964). “Sensitivity to expression of emotional meaning in three modes of communication”. In Davitz JR, et al. (eds.). The Communication of Emotional Meaning. McGraw-Hill. pp. 31–42.
- Argyle (September 2017). Argyle M (ed.). Contributions to social interactions: Social Encounters. ISBN 9780202368979.
- Leuner B (1966). “Emotional intelligence and emancipation”. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie. 15: 193–203.
- Gardner H (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.
- Smith MK (2002). “Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences and education”. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Archived from the original on 2005-11-02. Retrieved 2005-11-01.
- Beasley K (May 1987). “The Emotional Quotient” (PDF). Mensa: 25.
- Salovey P, Mayer JD (1989). “Emotional intelligence”. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. 9 (3): 185–211. doi:10.2190/dugg-p24e-52wk-6cdg. S2CID 219900460.
- Goleman D (1996). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-38371-3.
- Dan Schawbel. “Daniel Goleman on Leadership and The Power of Emotional Intelligence – Forbes”. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- Goleman D (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
- Lantieri L, Goleman D (2008). Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children. Sounds True. ISBN 978-1-59179-849-1.
- Goleman D (2011). The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. More Than Sound. ISBN 978-1-934441-15-2.
- Goleman D (2011). Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. More Than Sound.
- “Emotional Competence and Leadership Excellence at Johnson & Johnson: The Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Study”. http://www.eiconsortium.org. 2001. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
- “What is Emotional Intelligence and How to Improve it? (Definition + EQ Test)”. positivepsychologyprogram.com. 14 November 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- “Why emotional intelligence is just a fad – CBS News”. 2012-02-13. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- Mayer JD, Roberts RD, Barsade SG (2008). “Human abilities: emotional intelligence”. Annual Review of Psychology. 59: 507–36. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093646. PMID 17937602. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22.
- Kluemper DH (2008). “Trait emotional intelligence: The impact of core-self evaluations and social desirability”. Personality and Individual Differences. 44 (6): 1402–1412. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2007.12.008.
- Martins A, Ramalho N, Morin E (2010). “A comprehensive meta-analysis of the relationship between emotional intelligence and health”. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences. 49 (6): 554–564. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.029.
- Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Sitarenios G (September 2001). “Emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence”. Emotion. 1 (3): 232–42. doi:10.1037/1528-35126.96.36.199. PMID 12934682.
- MacCann C, Joseph DL, Newman DA, Roberts RD (April 2014). “Emotional intelligence is a second-stratum factor of intelligence: evidence from hierarchical and bifactor models”. Emotion. 14 (2): 358–374. doi:10.1037/a0034755. PMID 24341786.
- Mayer JD, Salovey P (1997). “What is emotional intelligence?”. In Salovey P, Sluyter D (eds.). Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators. New York: Basic Books. pp. 3–31. ISBN 978-0-521-51806-2.
- Salovey P, Grewal D (2005). “The Science of Emotional Intelligence”. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 14 (6): 6. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00381.x. S2CID 2143869.
- Bradberry TR, Su LD (2003). “Ability-versus skill-based assessment of emotional intelligence” (PDF). Psicothema. 18 Suppl: 59–66. PMID 17295959. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- Brackett MA, Mayer JD (September 2003). “Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence”. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin. 29 (9): 1147–58. doi:10.1177/0146167203254596. PMID 15189610. S2CID 5744173.
- Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Sitarenios G (March 2003). “Measuring emotional intelligence with the MSCEIT V2.0”. Emotion. 3 (1): 97–105. doi:10.1037/1528-35188.8.131.52. PMID 12899321.
- Petrides KV (2015). “Ability and Trait Emotional Intelligence”. In Chamorro-Premuzic T, von Stumm S, Furnham A (eds.). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences. London: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 656–78. ISBN 978-1-119-05030-8.
- Føllesdal H. Emotional Intelligence as Ability: Assessing the Construct Validity of Scores from the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) (PhD thesis). University of Oslo 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16.
- Nowicki, Stephen; Duke, Marshall P. (1994-03-01). “Individual differences in the nonverbal communication of affect: The diagnostic analysis of nonverbal accuracy scale”. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 18 (1): 9–35. doi:10.1007/BF02169077. ISSN 1573-3653. S2CID 144426091.
- Matsumoto, David; LeRoux, Jeff; Wilson-Cohn, Carinda; Raroque, Jake; Kooken, Kristie; Ekman, Paul; Yrizarry, Nathan; Loewinger, Sherry; Uchida, Hideko; Yee, Albert; Amo, Lisa (2000-09-01). “A New Test to Measure Emotion Recognition Ability: Matsumoto and Ekman’s Japanese and Caucasian Brief Affect Recognition Test (JACBART)”. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 24 (3): 179–209. doi:10.1023/A:1006668120583. ISSN 1573-3653. S2CID 18039888.
- MacCann, Carolyn; Roberts, Richard D. (2008). “New paradigms for assessing emotional intelligence: Theory and data”. Emotion. 8 (4): 540–551. doi:10.1037/a0012746. PMID 18729584 – via APA.
- Boyatzis RE, Goleman D, Rhee K (2000). “Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI).”. In Bar-On R, Parker JD (eds.). Handbook of emotional intelligence. 99. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 343–62.
- Bradberry T, Greaves J (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Francisco: Publishers Group West. ISBN 978-0-9743206-2-5.
- Petrides KV, Furnham A (2000a). “On the dimensional structure of emotional intelligence”. Personality and Individual Differences. 29 (2): 313–320. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.475.5285. doi:10.1016/s0191-8869(99)00195-6.
- Petrides KV, Pita R, Kokkinaki F (May 2007). “The location of trait emotional intelligence in personality factor space”. British Journal of Psychology. 98 (Pt 2): 273–89. doi:10.1348/000712606×120618. PMID 17456273.
- Petrides KV, Furnham A (2001). “Trait emotional intelligence: Psychometric investigation with reference to established trait taxonomies”. European Journal of Personality. 15 (6): 425–448. doi:10.1002/per.416. S2CID 144031083.
- Pérez JC, Petrides PJ, Furnham A (2005). “Measuring trait emotional intelligence.”. In Schulze R, Roberts RD (eds.). International Handbook of Emotional Intelligence. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Hogrefe & Huber. pp. 123–43. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.474.294.
- Petrides KV, Furnham A (2003). “Trait emotional intelligence: behavioral validation in two studies of emotion recognition and reactivity to mood induction”. European Journal of Personality. 17: 39–75. doi:10.1002/per.466. S2CID 4287409.
- Mikolajczak M, Luminet O, Leroy C, Roy E (June 2007). “Psychometric properties of the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire: factor structure, reliability, construct, and incremental validity in a French-speaking population”. Journal of Personality Assessment. 88 (3): 338–53. doi:10.1080/00223890701333431. PMID 17518555. S2CID 21196733.
- Vernon PA, Petrides KV, Bratko D, Schermer JA (October 2008). “A behavioral genetic study of trait emotional intelligence”. Emotion. 8 (5): 635–42. doi:10.1037/a0013439. PMID 18837613.
- Gardner JK, Qualter P (2010). “Concurrent and incremental validity of three trait emotional intelligence measures”. Australian Journal of Psychology. 62: 5–12. doi:10.1080/00049530903312857.
- Checa P, Fernández-Berrocal P (2015). “The Role of Intelligence Quotient and Emotional Intelligence in Cognitive Control Processes”. Frontiers in Psychology. 6: 1853. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01853. PMC 4664650. PMID 26648901.
- Salovey P, Grewal D (2005). “The Science of Emotional Intelligence”. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 14 (6): 281–285. doi:10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00381.x. ISSN 0963-7214. JSTOR 20183048. S2CID 2143869.
- Lim AG (15 June 2020). “The Big Five Personality Traits”. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
- Lim AG. “Big Five Personality Traits”. Simply Psychology.
- MacCann, Carolyn; Jiang, Yixin; Brown, Luke E R; Double, Kit S; Bucich, Micaela; Minbashian, Amirali (2020). “Emotional intelligence predicts academic performance: A meta-analysis”. Psychological Bulletin. 146 (2): 150–186. doi:10.1037/bul0000219. PMID 31829667 – via APA.
- Heffernan M, Quinn Griffin MT, Fitzpatrick JJ (August 2010). “Self-compassion and emotional intelligence in nurses”. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 16 (4): 366–73. doi:10.1111/j.1440-172X.2010.01853.x. PMID 20649668. S2CID 1902234.
- Bratton VK, Dodd NG, Brown FW (January 2011). “The impact of emotional intelligence on accuracy of self‐awareness and leadership performance”. Leadership & Organization Development Journal. 32 (2): 127–149. doi:10.1108/01437731111112971. ISSN 0143-7739.
- Whitener, S., The Importance Of Emotional Intelligence In Business, Forbes, published 25 November 2020, accessed 26 February 2021
- JCA Global Ltd. and CIPS (2017), Emotional Intelligence in the Procurement Sector, accessed 26 February 2021 Kelly, E. J. et al, Importance of emotional intelligence in negotiation and mediation