Psychologists have uncovered and grouped intelligence into three main groups: abstract intelligence (the ability to understand and manipulate using verbal and mathematical symbols), concrete intelligence (the ability to understand and manipulate with objects), and social intelligence (the ability to understand and relate to people).1
Emotional intelligence (EI) has its roots in the concept of “social intelligence,” first identified by E.L. Thorndike in 1920. The influence of this concept on popular culture and the academic community has been rapid and widespread.
As we all know, emotions are a fundamental part of who we are, and play an important part in our relationships with others. They cannot be removed from the picture. However, most of us have traditionally been conditioned “to leave our emotions at home,” believing that in order to be more effective we need to base all our strategies and decisions only upon cold, logical “intelligence.”2
In fact, to do so often guarantees that the suppressed emotions will flare, causing increased conflict and affecting the mood of the individual negatively. But what if we continue to expand our knowledge of emotions in a different way altogether, as another kind of “intelligence,” beyond reason and logic? An intelligence that – if we could learn to access it – could become nothing less than a touchstone to greater collaboration, giving us greater influence with others, motivating us to be more productive and effective.
It could be said that the greatest distance there is is the distance between the mind (IQ) and the heart (EQ). By learning about and utilizing EI, we will be able to shorten that distance, and we will be working with astonishing capacity and effectiveness. Let us address some important questions and issues about Emotional Intelligence.
What Is EI?
When Salovey and Mayer coined the term “emotional intelligence” (EI) in 1990,3 they were aware of the previous work on non-cognitive aspects of intelligence. They described emotional intelligence as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”4
Esther Orioli and Robert Cooper state the following in explaining EI: “EI is far more than being ‘nice’ to people. It is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of energy, information, creativity, trust, and connection.”5
Another way to describe EI is the ability to sense and use emotions to more effectively manage ourselves and influence positive outcomes in our relationships.
Why Do We Need EI?
Primitive emotional responses of our EI hold the keys to better health, experiencing greater joy and closer connections, achieving stronger leadership, a clearer vision, greater efficacy, higher goals, expanding our personal power, enhancing our self-awareness, augmenting learning, magnifying clarity, ensuring healthier relationships and finer perception, and finally, the provision of greater satisfaction. These emotional reflexes, rarely conscious but powerful, motivate our choices. In short, we need EI for utilizing the power of emotions.
What Are the Competencies of EI?
In Goleman’s model of EI there are five key steps:6 self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and effective relationships; each includes a set of different competencies. All the competencies to be successful are not necessary, but the two core competencies (emotional self-awareness and accurate self-assessment) are essential. These are the two foundational abilities upon which all others rest (see Chart).
The cornerstone or foundation of EI is self-awareness. It supports all the other EI skills. Self-awareness must come first because if we do not know ourselves or what we are feeling, how can we possibly know the needs of others or understand someone else and how they feel?
The more we know about ourselves, the better we are able to control and choose what kind of behavior we will display in any given situation. Self-awareness is about knowing where we are now and where we want to go, so that we will be willing to change to get there. Without self-awareness, our emotions can blind us and guide us to do things or to become people we do not want to be.
To become more self-aware, one must follow these steps:
• Learn the difference between thoughts and feelings. It is extremely important to know the difference between “I think” and “I feel” if you are to know yourself better.
• Ask yourself how you are feeling throughout the day and be honest. If your heart races or you blush or if you are short of breath – this is usually a gut reaction. Ask yourself, “What is the feeling behind it?” Name that feeling – fear, anxiety, love, eagerness.
• Be open to input from others. Friends and associates can often enlighten us about our behavior.
While we are listening and learning from our gut feelings as a step toward self-awareness, self-regulation is regulating those same feelings and managing them so that they do more good than harm. Self-regulation is giving the rational side time to temper our feelings when needed. It also helps us to act intentionally rather than reactively. When we act intentionally, we mean what we say rather. The other side of the coin is to just spout off without thinking and later regret an impulsive act.
Here are some tips to help you with self-regulation:
• Monitor your self-talk (what you say to yourself in your mind).
• Accept responsibility for your emotional responses in your life. When you are feeling that you are accountable, you are acknowledging your own power.
• Anticipate emotional “triggers” and prepare to manage them.
• Reframe an irritating situation into a problem-solving exercise. When you encounter a situation that provokes an undesirable emotional response, decrease your anger by focusing on the behavior. Reframe it to make the behavior the problem, and not the person.
• Use humor!
• Never underestimate the power of taking deep breaths. Increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain eases tension, clarifies thinking and has a relaxing effect on our psyche and body. It also gives you a moment to collect your thoughts and to think before speaking.
• Remove yourself from the situation and keep moving. There are major benefits in distancing yourself from a bad situation and re-directing your energy into a new activity. This will help you regain your perspective, increase your alertness and re-energize.
Unlike Intelligence Quotient, which is fixed for life, Emotional Quotient can be continually developed to enable people to increase their awareness of their selves and others, to develop.
3. Self-Motivation Self-motivation is directing the power of our emotions toward a purpose that will motivate and inspire us. It is also visualizing the achievement of a goal and taking whatever the necessary steps are to get there. Various ways to bolster your self-motivation are: • Be aware of how you explain setbacks to yourself… stay realistic. Realize that you can control and choose what you are thinking and feeling. Increase your persistence by keeping things in perspective. • Connect your goals with your values to get energized. Keep your eyes on the goal and follow through so you can enjoy the satisfaction of completing whatever projects you"ve begun. • Strive for reaching a “flow” state while working on projects. • Visualize! • Keep learning! The pursuit of knowledge will build on your areas of strength. You will be more valuable and versatile. 4. Empathy Once we have become more honest and intentional with our emotions, it is time to look outward. EI is both tuning into our feelings and tuning into the feelings of those around us. It means responding to others appropriately, with sensitivity and compassion. Empathy is being able to see a problem from another person"s perspective. It is good to acknowledge other people"s emotions while still remembering that those are their emotions, not ours. Empathy begins with listening. This means making a connection with people. Individuals who lack empathy are more focused on their needs and pay little or no attention to anyone else"s. Empathy is the glue that will bind a group together to work successfully. Some of the techniques for enhancing your empathy are: • Look for nonverbal cues as well as listening for verbal ones. Studies show that words account for only 7% of communication. Tone and the speed of speech accounts for 38% of the message, while 55% is unspoken and revealed through body language, such as posture, eye contact, facial expressions, and so on. • Share and be honest about your feelings. Good communication leads to trust. • Your spoken and unspoken messages should be consistent. You want what you are saying to uphold what you are doing. This proves that you are being honest, or authentic, which builds trust. • Take the kinder road whenever possible. There are many ways to deliver opinions and criticism. You can be honest and still give positive feedback, which increases confidence. Construc-tive feedback increases competence. • Try to see a situation from the other person"s perspective. Empathy is about imagining what it would be like to walk in someone else"s shoes. We ought to assume that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources that they have at the moment. 5. Effective Relationships Mastering the abilities of self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and empathy paves the way to attaining greater skill in effective relationships. This competency is about interacting with people successfully and being adept at managing emotions in others. With heightened social skills, leaders are better communicators and better collaborators. Some EI techniques for having more effective relationships at work: • Share your passion and enthusiasm for your job and the organization"s vision – it"s contagious! Keep the vision in view by relating your own excitement for a project or goal. • Create an inspiring work environment. If you show honesty, trust, and appreciation toward your team, you create the perfect environment for them to do their best work. • Engage in creative brainstorming. Not only is brainstorming good for generating fresh ideas, but the process builds rapport and trust among team members. This could smooth the way to future collaborations because of the creative bond that has been formed. • Be willing to coach or mentor others and be open to being coached yourself. This is the most important relationship skill in the workplace. By sharing your knowledge and expertise with other team members, you are nurturing the next generation. And by allowing someone to coach you, you are showing that you are receptive to others" ideas and that you do not “know it all.” In conclusion, quite simply the EI competencies of intra-personal and inter-personal skills are central to our life and are a different way of being intelligent. They are the tools that our brains use to define ourselves, to shape the meaning of major concepts like love, success, and happiness. EI has been found to be more important than IQ, technical ability, or experience in determining life success. Unlike IQ, which is fixed for life, EQ can be continually developed to enable people to increase their awareness of their selves and others, to develop self-management strategies, and to connect with others to create collaboration and harmony. In practice, EI also enables people to tap into their true power and creativity and to consciously choose the most effective response to any situation rather than merely reacting impulsively. Footnotes 1 Ruisel, I., Social Intelligence: Conception and Methodological Problems, 34(4-5), 281-296. 2 Emotional Intelligence Workbook, CRM Learning, Carlsbad, 2001. 3 Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. Emotional Intelligence, Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 1990. 4 Salovey, P., & Mayer, J., The Intelligence of Emotional Intelligence, 1993, 17, 433-442. 5 See http://www.qmetricseq.com/ 6 Goleman, D., Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, New York, 1995.