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What is Emotional Intelligence – and Do You Have Any?

emotionIt has often been observed that very intelligent people are not necessarily good at handling people and their feelings. Indeed it is one of the reasons why intelligence alone does not lead to success. The concept of emotional intelligence addresses this issue. Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined as the capacity to see, understand and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups. Understanding and improving the connection between emotions and actions can help build your business and personal success.

Salovey and Mayer’s built on this definition by describing EI as, ‘The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions, and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth.’ Their model defined four types of skills.

Perceiving emotions – the ability to detect and decipher emotions including the ability to identify one’s own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.

Using emotions – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem solving. The emotionally intelligent person can capitalize fully upon his or her changing moods in order to best fit the task at hand.

Understanding emotions – the ability to comprehend emotion language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, and the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.

Managing emotions – the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions, even negative ones, and manage them to achieve intended goals.

Daniel Goleman has developed a model of EI as a set of four key leadership skills.

  • Self-awareness – the ability to understand one’s own emotions and recognize their impact.
  • Self-management – the ability to control one’s emotions and moods.
  • Social awareness – the ability to see and understand other people’s emotions.
  • Relationship management – the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.

These books are recommended for further reading in this area:

Peter Salovey, Marc Brackett and John Mayer (2004) Emotional Intelligence: Key Readings on the Mayer and Salovey model.

Daniel Goleman (1999) Emotional Intelligence

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