What is Emotional Intelligence?

emotional intelligence meaning
Emotional intelligence is twice as important as hard skills and IQ for career success. In this article, we discuss where emotions come from, how to manage them, and better understand other people.

Emotionally Intelligent Meaning

Emotional intelligence (or Emotional Quotient) is the ability to recognize emotions, intentions, motivations, desires of oneself and others, and manage them. This skill helps in solving practical tasks and achieving goals in life and at work. People with developed emotional intelligence know how to negotiate with others, make decisions, and react properly to negative situations.

Through emotions, we react to events, words, and circumstances. If they are not understood, what is happening will become distorted. For example, at work, if you receive criticism and start arguing and conflicting, this will ultimately lead to neuroses, apathy, and other depressive states. Moreover, depression does not pass quickly: in 15-39% of people, it lasts more than a year.

A person with developed emotional intelligence reacts to causes, not actions or emotions. This helps them to perceive criticism correctly, understand other people, and respond to them with an adequate reaction.

The concept of emotional intelligence became popular after the publication of the eponymous book by science journalist Daniel Goleman in 1995. According to Goleman's research, people with developed emotional intelligence have better mental health, work efficiency, and leadership skills. Moreover, 67% of leadership abilities are attributed to emotional intelligence. It is twice as important as technical knowledge and IQ.

This is confirmed by a study conducted by Egon Zehnder. They analyzed 515 top-level executives and found that people with developed emotional intelligence have a greater chance of success. At the Carnegie Institute of Technology, it was reported that 85% of our financial success is related to emotional intelligence, leadership, and communication skills. Only 15% depend on technical knowledge. Flexible human skills, closely related to emotional intelligence, are the most important skills in the present and future.

How Emotional Intelligence Works

Let's delve into the model presented by the EQ-factor laboratory under the direction of Nicholas Koro and Victoria Shimanskaya in 2014. It vividly illustrates the coefficients that shape the intellectual-emotional profile of a person — IEPP.

Emotional intelligence does not exist separately from intelligence; it is not its opposite. The coefficients of emotional intelligence EQ and intellectual intelligence IQ cannot be separated from each other. Moreover, if EQ is not developed, a person will not have a high IQ.

To develop emotional intelligence, one needs to focus on four drivers: mindfulness, self-esteem, motivation, and adaptability. Developing each of these drivers shapes the acquisition of the corresponding emotional-intellectual strategy.

  1. Mindfulness involves awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It develops the "Philosophers" strategy. Philosophers quickly learn and accumulate knowledge, but they find it difficult to transition from theory to practice and translate knowledge into real skills.
  2. Self-esteem includes acceptance, the ability not to depend on external evaluations and opinions, a positive perception of the world, and determination. It helps to master the "Stars" strategy. Such people are confident but tend to speak to make an impression. Stars risk staying at the level of "impressions" if they do not enhance the drivers of mindfulness and motivation.
  3. Motivation includes openness to new things, goal-setting, experiencing failure, and striving for self-actualization. It helps to master the "Heroes" strategy. Heroes enjoy self-development and achievements, so they constantly improve themselves and can lead others. Heroes risk burning out quickly if they do not realize the reasons for their work.
  4. Adaptability includes empathy, stress resistance, decision-making, and communicability. It develops the "Leaders" strategy. Such people are stress-resistant, empathetic, and hardworking but are prone to the imposter syndrome. This is a cognitive distortion where a person considers themselves a fraud and does not attribute their achievements to their qualities and skills.

Emotional intelligence is a kind of foundation of the personality pyramid. The larger the volume of this pyramid, the more opportunities and influence on their own life, the lives of other people, and the world as a whole a person can have.

All four profiles are equally promising. To build an effective life strategy, one needs to understand their strong drivers and pay attention to the weak ones. In combination with the vector of IQ intelligence, emotional intelligence forms the life strategy of "Creators." It helps to realize a person's potential and achieve the highest level of self-realization.
Emotionally Intelligent Meaning

How to Develop Emotional Intelligence

Honesty and accurate assessment of one's behavior are key factors in developing EQ.

Honesty. To test your honesty, try a simple exercise: write down on paper three personal traits that you dislike about yourself. For example, "I wake up late," "I procrastinate," and "I get easily irritated." According to the first principle of the emotional intelligence concept, there is a positive intention behind every action we take. Reflect on why you wake up late and what positive intention may be behind this action. For instance, it could be because you're exhausted from work and concerned about a new project.

Behavior Assessment. It's challenging to answer why we behave in a certain way in a specific situation. However, an honest response operates on three levels: meaning, body, and emotions — this is the second paradigm in the concept of emotional intelligence. If you change the response at one of these levels, the others will also change. For instance, you might excel at your job, but realize that clients don't return because you struggle to communicate with them. This realization might lead to irritation, but acknowledging this fact brings insight at the level of meaning. At the bodily level, there will be relaxation and a feeling as if "a weight has been lifted off your shoulders." Emotionally, it will become easier. You've discovered the true cause of anger and irritation, even though it's difficult to admit.

Tools for Developing Emotional Intelligence

The foundation for developing emotional intelligence consists of four components. Self-awareness and self-control help to work on oneself, while social competence and relationship management help to build strong relationships with others.

1. Mindfulness
Development of emotional intelligence should start with an awareness of what is happening with oneself. One must learn to separate oneself from emotions, see them as a separate phenomenon, and observe them objectively. Emotions are our reaction to what is happening around us. They change along with changes in external circumstances, so remember: you ≠ your emotions. The ability to separate emotion from oneself helps to assess the situation, make decisions, and react correctly.

For example, when standing at the edge of a cliff, you realize you are scared and step back. In this case, fear preserves your life. But in negotiations with an important client, it interferes with gathering thoughts and focusing on the outcome. Recognizing this, one must set aside fear and move forward.

Any emotion can be accepted or rejected. However, emotions should not be suppressed, as this leads to neuroses and dissatisfaction with life.

Practice: Draw a scale from 0 to 10 on paper. Mark the level of fear on it, for example, at 7 divisions. Now increase the level to 9, and then decrease it to 5. Try to understand your feelings and experience the emotion. Reduce the fear by 2 or 3 divisions more, and then proceed with the task you were afraid of. This is the essence of emotion management.

2. Self-Control
If you are aware of and can separate emotion from oneself, you can control and express it correctly. This skill is particularly important for leaders. To control an emotion, it needs to be expressed and spoken aloud.

Practice: Learn to speak the language of emotions. Use a phrase consisting of three parts:
I feel...


I would like...

For example, "I feel upset and angry because I didn't have time to prepare the presentation for the new client. I would like us to do it together because the client is important for the company." Formulate several negative and positive emotions using this formula.

Learning to express feelings will be aided by nonviolent communication methods. Practice, and over time, it will become a habit. You will change your speech and reaction to many events.

3. Social Competence

Social competence helps to see the essence and cause of what is happening and not engage in emotional battles. It enables making more accurate and considered decisions. To do this, one must learn to understand what lies behind another person's behavior. This way, you can prevent 90% of conflicts.
How emotional intelligence works

Three Components of Human Reaction

When communicating with people, react not to actions and words, but to intentions and reasons behind them. Any reaction and behavior can be broken down into three components:

  1. Intention — the meaning, the true reason. A person may be aware or unaware of their intention, but it will always be positive. For example, a manager yelled at you because they were concerned about the project's outcomes.
  2. Action — how a person implements the cause. It can be positive and constructive or negative and destructive. For example, you might insult a man in response to unacceptable behavior or explain your attitude and suggest behaving differently.
  3. Meaning — the significance you assign to the action. It can be positive or negative. For example, you asked a colleague a question, and they didn't answer. The positive meaning is that the colleague didn't hear the question, the negative one is that they don't respect you.

Practice: Recall several conflict situations and try to break them down using this formula. Find positive intentions in your meanings and actions.

How to Determine the Level of Emotional Intelligence Development?

The author of the book "Emotional Intelligence in Practice," Justin Bariso, identifies 13 criteria of developed EQ:

1. Recognize your feelings and emotions.
2. Pause before speaking or acting.
3. Strive to control your thoughts and reactions to emotions.
4. Use criticism as an opportunity to improve.
5. Adhere to your values and principles.
6. Demonstrate empathy.
7. Praise and inspire others.
8. Provide useful feedback.
9. Apologize and acknowledge mistakes.
10. Forgive and forget.
11. Fulfill your commitments.
12. Help others.
13. Protect yourself from emotional sabotage.

We add one universal but subjective criterion — the degree of satisfaction with one's own life. In EQ, one's own sense is more important than the skill development indicator. If you've been unable to ask for a raise for several years or get extremely angry when cleaning your apartment, pay attention to working with your emotions.

How to Overcome Difficulties and Apply It in Life

The most challenging part of developing emotional intelligence is to start. It's unclear at what point the experience emerges that allows further development of EQ skills. Begin by carefully listening to yourself and catching emotions: naming, acknowledging, reflecting, and tuning into your feelings. Without this practice, no books will bring you closer to the feeling of happiness, overcoming fears, managing anger, and other tasks that we want to solve through emotion management.

Emotional intelligence resides at the intersection of meaning and body. Only by linking knowledge with physical sensations can it be activated and fine-tune your emotional apparatus. Therefore, our path is to work on the connection between the body and consciousness. Act - observe, feel - contemplate.

To Develop Emotional Intelligence

  1. Learn to recognize your emotions and name them. Speak out loud what you are feeling.
  2. Accept your emotions and try to experience them without harming yourself and others.
  3. Learn to separate emotions from yourself. You are always more than one emotion.
  4. Seek and understand the cause of the emotion.
  5. Align emotions with your current life goal. Think about how they can help you and direct them to your advantage.
  6. Try to apply EQ tools to other people.
  7. Take a special diagnostic test to determine the level of emotional intelligence development. Choose trainings, courses, books that will help you improve your skills better.
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