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Emotional intelligence (EI) or the emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) measures one’s ability to experience, understand, and effectively regulate his or her emotions and those of others. 

While cognitive ability is mainly genetically inherited, emotional intelligence can be learned and improved over time. Self and other research indicates that employees with high levels of emotional intelligence have better mental health, job performance, and leadership skills. This is because EI fosters interpersonal and intrapersonal communication, conflict management, and empathetic understanding which are vital for success in our daily lives. 

In the modern world that can be characterized as interconnected and constantly changing, where people interact more and more often and where teamwork becomes a primary focus, emotional intelligence is considered one of the essential components of interpersonal relationships and overall well-being.

Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity to accurately perceive, appraise, and regulate our own emotions, and the capacity to accurately perceive emotions in others and use this information to guide our thinking and actions [1].  

There are 5 important emotional intelligence skills [2]:

  • Emotional self-awareness – awareness of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motives.
  • Regulating emotions and desires, being able to control ourselves, and responding to changes.
  • Motivation is not by money or status but by other personal factors that prompt one to perform towards certain goals.
  • Empathy – the ability to identify with and understand the emotions of other individuals.
  • Relationship management influences the behavior of people in a particular direction.

EI assists us in managing social relationships, directing and inspiring people, and making choices for ourselves that will result in success. In contrast to cognitive intelligence, which focuses on the capacity to reason, EI is about how one cope with actions, interacts within social systems, and makes choices for the attainment of beneficial outcomes.

How Is Emotional Intelligence Measured

Many instruments and assessments are intended to assess the level of EI. These assessments typically evaluate different aspects of EI through various methods: 

Several available tests and tools can be used to assess the level of EI. These assessments typically evaluate different aspects of EI through various methods:

 Self-report questionnaires: These are the most popular of all the EI assessments that are available on the market today. They expect people to self-report their levels of emotional intelligence. Some of them include the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) and the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) [1].

Ability-based tests: These tests work based on the fact that they allow individuals to solve problems or complete tasks related to emotions. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is one of the most commonly employed ability-based tests that assess EI based on tasks related to emotion perception, appraisal, and regulation [3].

360-degree feedback: This method involves collecting information from the colleagues, the juniors, and the seniors of the given individual. This feedback gives an overall perspective of an individual’s emotional competencies as perceived by other people.

Each type of test has its strengths and weaknesses. It is also important to note that self-administered questionnaires can be affected by socially desirable response bias in which participants respond in a manner that is expected of them. Ability-based tests are more objective though they take time and may need special administration and proctoring. It is comprehensive but more elaborate and time-consuming than other performance appraisal methods.

How Do You Know if You Are Emotionally Intelligent

It is not easy to determine whether one has emotional intelligence or not because it entails self-analysis of one’s actions and reactions in different circumstances. 

Here are some signs of emotional intelligence that indicate high EQ: 

Self-awareness: You can accurately label your own emotions and the ability to comprehend how your emotions are influencing your cognition and action. You know your advantages and disadvantages and do not get frustrated or embarrassed about them.

Self-regulation: You can manage your stress levels well and can still perform well under pressure. You can think things through and do not act impulsively or without thinking. You can manage stress and not allow it to overwhelm you even when there are changes.

Empathy: You are considerate of people’s emotions and can easily understand how they feel. You are a good listener and value other people’s opinions and stories. It is hard-wired in your brain to be able to understand the emotions of the people around you.

Motivation: You are achievement-motivated, that is, you work not for the sake of the end product, but for the sake of the accomplishment. You are goal-oriented, ambitious, and tenacious to achieve them despite the challenges that may come along. You are goal-oriented and possess a positive attitude towards work and other aspects of life.

Social skills: You develop and sustain good relationships. You are good when it comes to both listening and speaking; in fact, communication is one of your strong points. You can effectively deal with conflicts and can be persuasive or motivating when required.

EI is important for the well-being of individuals, the improvement of organizational life, and the betterment of society. This view focuses on the positive impact EI has on people’s psychological well-being, enhances organizational climate, and fosters a culture of compassion and interconnectivity.

Mental Health

Firstly, in terms of mental health, EI enables people to better cope with stress, anxiety, and other issues related to emotions. High EI results in effective management of emotions; therefore, the mental health of such individuals is likely to be better. They should be able to avoid negative emotional spirals and therefore be in a better mental state to deal with issues in the relationship. It is important to maintain emotional well-being because life is full of challenges, and having strong emotional armor will help avoid burnout, depression, and other similar problems.

Workplace

In the workplace, EI plays an important role in shaping a positive organizational climate and organizational outcomes. Managers with high levels of EI can lead the employees, encourage them, and create a climate of cooperation. They are good at conflict-solving, comprehending different points of view, and making sure that all the employees feel appreciated and listened to. This results in improved staff satisfaction, reduced staff attrition, and improved organizational productivity. Also, the presence of high levels of EI skills among employees is beneficial for the organization since they can manage social issues and develop good relations with co-workers.

Societal Factors

From a larger social perspective, EI enhances the understanding between different groups in society. As people become more interconnected, both globally and through technology, it is essential to learn about and appreciate the emotional experiences of others to facilitate positive social relations and prevent conflict. People with high EI can help to overcome the barriers between cultures and societies and to fight prejudices. Such an approach can help in formulating better and more humane policies, social stability, and a better society.

Various types and models of EI can be used to define and explain this concept. The Ability Model, the Trait Model, and the Mixed Model are some of the models that exist. All three offer a different view of how EI works and how it can be measured and grown.

Ability Model

The Ability Model by Peter Salovey and John Mayer defines emotional intelligence as a specific kind of mental capacity that concerns the processing of emotions [2]. 

This model focuses on four key abilities:

Perceiving Emotions: The capacity to identify and exhibit feelings, such as moods, in oneself and others from the face, voice, and gestures.

Using Emotions: The ability to employ feelings to perform several cognitive tasks, including reasoning and solving of tasks. For instance, when people are in a positive mood, they are likely to think creatively.

Understanding Emotions: The ability to understand the meaning of the words used when expressing emotions, as well as the motives for such emotions. This includes understanding how feelings change over time and what feelings are likely to ensue.

Managing Emotions: The management of feelings within oneself and others to attain certain goals. This entails being able to maintain composure when faced with challenges and assisting other people in doing the same.

According to the Ability Model, EI is a set of skills that can be learned like any other skill and not a fixed trait.

Trait Model

The Trait Model, suggested by Konstantinos V. Petrides, defines emotional intelligence as a set of abilities concerning the self-reflection of emotions and self-regulation of behavior [2]. 

This model is based on personality traits and includes various emotional aspects:

Self-awareness: Self-awareness is the knowledge that one has about his or her feelings and how these affect the self.

Emotional expression: The skills of sharing feelings with others or, in other words, the ability to share the emotional state.

Emotional regulation: The ability to regulate emotional reactions within an individual.

Self-motivation: The efforts to accomplish the objectives and maintain enthusiasm even in the face of obstacles.

Empathy: The capacity to experience emotions as if they were one’s own, and to communicate this to others.

Social skills: The competencies required to interact with people and nurture relationships.

The Trait Model is usually measured using self-report inventories where respondents rate their levels of emotional intelligence and propensity. According to this model, emotional intelligence is an aspect of personality, and therefore relatively fixed.

The Mixed Model

The Mixed Model, which was pioneered by Daniel Goleman, is a blend of the Ability Model and the Trait Model. It comprises a broad cluster of skills that are psychological and social, which are essential for leadership and self-actualization [2]. 

Goleman’s model includes five main components: 

Self-awareness: The ability to identify and distinguish between emotions, skills, and limitations.

Self-regulation: The ability to regulate feelings and emotions and prevent or limit the outburst of aggression or any other negative emotions.

Motivation: Motivation is defined as having the desire to accomplish certain objectives and the determination to continue despite adversity.

Empathy: Empathy, involves comprehending the feelings of others and being able to identify with them.

Social skills: The ability to build and sustain interpersonal relationships, the ability to negotiate and solve interpersonal conflicts, and the ability to persuade other people.

The Mixed Model is one of the most common leadership models that Goleman introduced to help organizations work on leadership and performance. It stresses the fact that emotional intelligence is not an inherited ability and can be trained.

It is easier to understand the concept of emotional intelligence when some examples are given. Here are five scenarios that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in everyday life:

1. Handling Criticism

Suppose you are at your workplace and your supervisor comes to you with the information that the report that you submitted recently is not satisfactory.

Emotionally intelligent response: While you do not get angry or offended, you take your time to listen, accept what has been said, and further ask questions on how you can correct the mistake. You identify the first feeling you experience, but instead of getting side-tracked by your emotions, you proceed to the next step.

2. Managing Conflict

You and a coworker have a dispute over how best to complete a task.

You do not interrupt the flow of conversation and are receptive to what your coworker is saying. You are polite when stating your opinion and aim at finding a middle ground that will suit both of you. Thus, you avoid escalation of the conflict because you know how to manage your emotions while at the same time, trying to understand theirs.

3. Supporting A Friend

When it comes to supporting a friend, one has to be very careful and understanding especially when the friend is going through a rough time.

A friend is going through some tough times and seems to be pulling back.

You call your friends to see how they are doing and to let them know you care. You listen without any form of criticism or a desire to give your opinion on how things should be done. The fact that you are empathizing with your friend makes him or her feel supported during times of hardship.

4. Adapting To Change

Your company decides to reorganize the structure significantly, which creates anxiety and tension in the workplace.

Though you may be worried about the changes, they are positive changes and you know how to manage them. You stand by your peers by motivating them to embrace change and pointing out the benefits of change that they have not considered.

5. Motivating Yourself

This happens when you are working on a difficult project that appears to be stuck and you are frustrated.

Sometimes you get frustrated and you get angry, but then you have to remember why you are doing this and why this project is important. You break down your goals into tiny measurable chunks to ensure that you are motivated to work hard and be rewarded even for the slightest achievement. Your choice-making ability enables you to overcome challenges, and your self-motivation skills assist you to keep going even when the going gets tough.

Emotional intelligence is a lifelong endeavor that entails being aware of one’s feelings, managing emotional responses, understanding others’ feelings, and relating appropriately with others. 

Below are some advice, actions, and approaches that will help you to build up your EI [4].

Tips for Self-Awareness

1. Reflect on Your Emotions:

  • Make it a habit to spend some time of the day reflecting on how you feel and what may have caused it.
  • It is recommended that you keep a diary where you can document all your emotional states and what triggers them.

2. Seek Feedback:

  • People should be asked to describe how they perceive your emotional state, it can be friends relatives, or even co-workers.
  • This feedback will help you know how your emotions are received by others.

3. Mindfulness Practices:

  • Practice mindfulness meditation to be able to recognize current feelings.
  • One can try to practice some deep breathing exercises to help soothe the mind and become more in touch with emotions.

Strategies for Self-Regulation

1. Develop Coping Mechanisms:

  • List down the positive coping mechanisms to stress like exercising, doing artwork, or discussing with a friend.
  • Do not respond immediately to something someone has said to you instead, count to five before you say anything.

2. Practice Positive Thinking:

  • When you are in a fix, do not forget to look at the brighter side of life.
  • Meditation helps you focus on the present moment and stop negative thoughts.

3. Set Personal Goals:

  • Set realistic targets that demand the subject’s discipline and time.
  • To ensure that you have achieved your goals and to encourage more of such behavior, make it a point to treat yourself.

Enhancing Empathy

1. Active Listening

  • It is very important to listen to someone without interrupting him/her in the middle of speaking.
  • Nod and provide summaries of the information provided, and ask questions that may help clarify doubts.

2. Put Yourself in Others’ Shoes:

  • This is the ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes and see, hear, and feel what they do in various circumstances.
  • If they are to be judged or a decision is to be made about them, one should consider how they feel and what they think.

3. Observe Non-Verbal Cues:

  • To improve listening skills, pay attention to the signs that can help to define the interlocutor’s mood: gestures, facial expressions, and voice intonation.
  • To convey that you are understanding and willing to help, appropriately react to these gestures.

Improving Social Skills

1. Enhance Communication Skills:

  • Be polite and straightforward while expressing your ideas and opinions while avoiding being rude or condescending.
  • Learn to communicate assertively by using ‘I messages’ that detail your emotions and requirements without making accusations.

2. Build Relationships:

  • Try to find a way to reach out to others, whether it is in your personal life or your career.
  • Act interested in people by inquiring about their lives and being willing to hear their stories.

3. Conflict Resolution:

  • It is always important to approach conflicts with an open mind and clear your mind before engaging in the conflict.
  • The conflict resolution should be based on win-win solutions and respect for all the individuals involved.

Interventions and Training Programs

1. Emotional Intelligence Workshops:

  • Participate in courses, training, and workshops that are relevant to enhancing the EI competencies.
  • Engage in activities and exercises that focus on increasing the awareness of oneself and others, such as the ability to understand the feelings of others and express oneself.

2. Coaching and Mentoring:

  • Seek a coach or a mentor who can help you in identifying the areas of your EI that need development and help you with suggestions on how to do it.
  • Schedule meetings frequently to assess your performance and issues arising.

3. Online Courses and Resources:

  • There are many online courses, videos, and articles that can provide useful tips and ideas on how to improve one’s EI.
  • The following are practice exercises and techniques that are given in these resources to build up practice.

Regular Practice and Reflection

1. Consistent Practice:

  • Develop a routine of applying the skills of EI daily including listening, feeling, and managing emotions.
  • Take some time to self-reflect and think about your interactions and the areas where you could improve.

2. Reflective Journaling:

  • To reflect on your emotions, and your achievements and failures in dealing with emotions, keep a journal.
  • Take some time to think about what you have learned and how this knowledge could be useful in similar circumstances in the future.

3. Seek Continuous Improvement:

  • Be receptive to new ideas, growth, and development.
  • You should always check and revise your strategies from time to time to make sure they are still working for you.

1. Very Well Mind. Emotional Intelligence: How We Perceive, Evaluate, Express, and Control Emotions. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-intelligence-2795423

2. Help Guide. Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ). https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/emotional-intelligence-eq.htm

3. Psychology Today. Emotional Intelligence. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-intelligence

4. Psych Central. How Can I Improve Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-emotional-intelligence-eq

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