Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) concerns an individual’s ability to recognize, comprehend, and manage their own emotions as well as those of others.
The most influential scholars of emotional intelligence are Goleman and Boyatzis (2017). They define emotional intelligence as a set of competencies fitting within four domains:
- Self-awareness: Being aware of your own emotions.
- Self-management: Being able to manage your own emotions.
- Social awareness: Awareness of others’ emotions.
- Relationship management: The capacity to navigate the emotional dimensions of interpersonal relationships.
Emotional intelligence has a range of benefits. Chief among these are the social skills required to build positive relationships, effective leadership skills, and personal development.
Emotional Intelligence Examples
- Being open to feedback without getting defensive.
- Recognizing when someone is upset, even if they haven’t verbalized it.
- Asking open-ended questions to understand another’s perspective.
- Being able to self-regulate your own emotions and manage your mood (emotional regulation).
- Expressing gratitude.
- Being able to say “no” respectfully.
- Avoiding gossip and not speaking ill of others.
- Apologizing sincerely when wrong.
- Managing stress through techniques like meditation or deep breathing.
- Being adaptable to change.
- Resolving conflicts constructively using conflict resolution skills.
- Being authentic and not pretending to be someone you’re not.
- Setting personal and professional boundaries for yourself and respecting the boundaries of others.
- Recognizing and understanding cultural and social differences in emotional expression.
- Celebrating the successes of others without feeling envy.
- Taking responsibility for your own actions and behaviors and not deflecting blame or playing “whataboutism”.
- Avoiding defensiveness in conversations.
- Recognizing when to lead and when to follow.
- Being a team player.
- Helping others during their tough times.
- Being optimistic even during challenges.
- Recognizing the emotional dynamics in a group setting.
- Choosing words carefully to avoid misunderstanding or hurt.
- Using humor to diffuse a tense situation.
- Recognizing and respecting differences in others’ viewpoints.
- Avoiding actions or words triggered by negative emotions.
- Demonstrating patience.
- Seeking mutual solutions in disagreements.
- Being attentive to non-verbal cues.
- Actively developing trust with others.
- Taking breaks when feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
- Being curious about why someone feels a certain way.
- Avoiding jumping to conclusions without evidence.
- Expressing feelings without accusing others.
- Establishing deep connections with others.
- Seeking feedback to grow personally and professionally.
- Understanding and reflecting upon the source of your own emotions.
- Recognizing patterns in your emotional reactions and interrupting negative patterns.
- Avoiding snap judgments.
- Asking for help when overwhelmed.
- Valuing relationships over being right.
- Using setbacks as learning opportunities.
- Being a good listener even if you disagree (using active listening skills).
- Demonstrating humility.
- Prioritizing mental health and self-care.
- Personal motivation to achieve personal growth, known as a growth mindset.
- Recognizing and controlling emotional triggers.
- Being kind without expecting anything in return.
- Offering constructive criticism.
- Understanding that others might be going through a tough time, even if it’s not apparent.
- Not holding grudges.
- Showing genuine interest in others.
- Being present in the moment.
- Noticing and attending to the emotional well-being of team members.
- Offering support without taking over.
- Recognizing the strengths in others and leveraging them.
- Not making assumptions about others’ feelings.
- Maintaining a positive attitude even when faced with negativity.
- Encouraging open communication (both verbal and nonverbal communication).
- Demonstrating vulnerability when appropriate.
- Asking for clarification rather than making assumptions.
- Recognizing when you’re projecting your feelings onto others.
- Setting aside personal feelings to work effectively.
- Valuing the journey and process, not just the outcome.
- Taking time to understand the root cause of conflicts.
- Recognizing when to step back and take a break.
- Seeking to grow and develop emotional intelligence skills continuously.
- Delaying reaction to give yourself time to think and respond rationally.
- Understanding that emotions are temporary and not permanent states.
- Actively seeking to bridge gaps in communication and understanding.
- Helping peers and colleagues navigate their emotions during challenging situations.
- Using empathy and compassion to navigate difficult conversations, especially with those who have opposing viewpoints.
- Recognizing and validating others’ feelings, even if you don’t agree with them.
- Redirecting negative conversations towards a more positive or neutral topic.
- Being self-reflective and asking yourself, “Why did I react that way?” after an emotional response.
The 12 Components of Emotional Intelligence
At the beginning of this article, I highlighted that Goleman and Boyatzis (2017) identified four domains of emotional intelligence. Within each domain, they identify ‘components’, 12 in total.
Here’s a quick visual summary of each component:
|Self-awareness||Self-management||Social awareness||Relationship management|
|Emotional self-awareness||Emotional self-control||Empathy||Influence|
|Adaptability||Organizational awareness||Coach or mentor|
|Achievement orientation||Conflict management|
Each component is explained below:
- Emotional Self-Awareness: Emotional self-awareness is the ability to identify and understand your own emotions. It entails recognizing different types of emotions within oneself and how they manifest (Serrat & Serrat, 2017). This understanding allows you to gauge your emotional reactions to specific situations and manage how these emotions influence your behavior (Livesy, 2017).
- Emotional Self-Control: Emotional self-control refers to maintaining control over your emotions, rather than letting them drive your reactions. This component is crucial for managing stress, handling provocation, and navigating disputes without constantly operating on impulse. It helps in maintaining a calm, professional demeanor, even under stressful conditions.
- Adaptability: Adaptability is about being flexible in handling change and emotions, and adjusting your responses and tactics as necessary (Di Fabio & Kenny, 2016). Whether it involves new routines, altered circumstances, or shifting dynamics, adaptability equips you with the agility required to effectively deal with the unpredictability inherent in various life and work situations.
- Achievement Orientation: Achievement orientation involves striving to meet or exceed a standard of excellence and setting challenging goals for personal or professional development. It requires a constant longing to improve performance, accomplish tasks efficiently, and achieve successful outcomes (Livesy, 2017).
- Positive Outlook: A positive outlook involves maintaining a positive attitude and latching onto the positive emotions generated by life’s possibilities. It implies viewing challenges as opportunities, harnessing a sense of optimism, and propagating positivity within the team or individual despite setbacks or difficulties.
Social Awareness Components
- Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Rather than just sympathizing, you’re able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, which enables better communication, conflict resolution, and team cohesion.
- Organizational Awareness: Organizational awareness involves understanding the dynamics, networks, and politics within an organization. It encompasses the ability to comprehend emotional currents and power relationships and how they manifest in the organization.
Relationship Management Components
- Influence: Influence pertains to the ability to shape and change the attitudes or behaviors of others (Batool, 2013). Effective leaders engage with others in a way that moves them toward shared goals; they know how to use effective persuasion tactics, inspire enthusiasm, and build consensus.
- Coach or Mentor: The ability to guide, support and mentor others towards their growth and development characterizes this component. It involves identifying and nurturing the potential in others,providing constructive feedback, and helping them to better themselves.
- Conflict Management: Conflict management is the ability to navigate and mediate disputes effectively to find a resolution (Bar-On, Handley & Fund, 2013). It involves understanding different viewpoints, facilitating open dialogue, and driving the team towards a mutually agreeable solution without damaging relationships.
- Teamwork: Teamwork is the ability to work cohesively with others, maintaining positive relationships and contributing towards collective goals. It involves collaborating, recognizing the value of each team member, and advocating for an environment that promotes collective effort.
- Inspirational Leadership: Inspirational leadership involves guiding and motivating others towards a common goal. Good leaders inspire passion, set clear vision, and empower others to achieve more than they thought possible, driving the overall morale and productivity of the team or organization.
Emotional Intelligence vs Cognitive Intelligence
Cognitive intelligence, often measured by IQ, encompasses the mental abilities involved in learning, understanding, problem-solving, and adapting to environments (Brody, 2004).
Traditionally-defined cognitive intelligence includes aspects such as knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Boyatzis, Good & Massa, 2012). It deals largely with the ability to think, reason, and solve problems, and is traditionally what is assessed in academic environments.
While both cognitive and emotional intelligence contribute to a person’s overall intelligence profile, they function quite differently.
Emotional intelligence plays a critical role in personal success, effective leadership, and maintaining relationships, aspects that cognitive intelligence may not adequately account for (Schneider, Lyons & Khazon, 2013; Serrat & Serrat, 2017).
In essence, emotional intelligence complements cognitive intelligence, and together they provide a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s functioning.
|Feature||Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ)||Cognitive Intelligence (IQ)|
|Definition||Ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others (Bar-On, Handley & Fund, 2013).||Ability to acquire, process, recall and apply knowledge (Boyatzis, Good & Massa, 2012).|
|Assessment||Questionnaires, 360-degree feedback, behavioral observations (Di Fabio & Kenny, 2016).||Standardized tests like IQ tests, academic achievements (Brody, 2004).|
|Importance in Workplace||Vital for teamwork, leadership roles, client relationships, and conflict resolution (Batool, 2013).||Important for analytical roles, tasks that require problem-solving, and areas that demand specific expertise (Nguyen, Nham & Takahashi, 2019).|
|Relation to Success||Crucial for interpersonal effectiveness, collaboration, and leadership in diverse areas.||Important for academic and some professional success, but not the sole predictor.|
|Potential Pitfalls||Overemphasis can lead to overlooking logical flaws or bypassing critical thinking (Caruso, Bienn & Kornacki, 2013; Mayer, 2013).||Over-reliance can ignore emotional aspects of situations or neglect the importance of interpersonal dynamics (Brody, 2004).|
Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone for personal and professional success. It bolsters self-confidence, enhances leadership capabilities, and fosters strong relationships. Individuals with high emotional intelligence can more effectively manage stress, navigate social complexities, and make more informed decisions. At the organizational level, emotionally intelligent leaders can motivate their teams, manage conflicts, and support a positive workplace culture. Ultimately, emotional intelligence can significantly enhance job performance, mental health, and overall life satisfaction.
Bar-On, R., Handley, R., & Fund, S. (2013). The impact of emotional intelligence on performance. In Linking emotional intelligence and performance at work (pp. 3-20). Psychology Press.
Batool, B. F. (2013). Emotional intelligence and effective leadership. Journal of business studies quarterly, 4(3), 84.
Boyatzis, R. E., Good, D., & Massa, R. (2012). Emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence and personality as predictors of sales leadership performance. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 19(2), 191-201. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/1548051811435793
Brody, N. (2004). What cognitive intelligence is and what emotional intelligence is not. Psychological Inquiry, 15(3), 234-238.
Caruso, D. R., Bienn, B., & Kornacki, S. A. (2013). Emotional intelligence in the workplace. In Emotional intelligence in everyday life (pp. 187-205). Psychology Press.
Di Fabio, A., & Kenny, M. E. (2016). Promoting well-being: The contribution of emotional intelligence. Frontiers in psychology, 1182.
Goleman, D., & Boyatzis, R. (2017). Emotional intelligence has 12 elements. Which do you need to work on. Harvard Business Review, 84(2), 1-5.
Livesey, P. V. (2017). Goleman-Boyatzis model of emotional intelligence for dealing with problems in project management. Construction Economics and Building, 17(1), 20-45.
Mayer, J. D. (2013). A new field guide to emotional intelligence. In Ciarrochi, J., Forgas, J. P., & Mayer, J. D. (Eds.). Emotional intelligence in everyday life. Psychology press.
Nguyen, N. N., Nham, P. T., & Takahashi, Y. (2019). Relationship between ability-based emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence, and job performance. Sustainability, 11(8), 2299.
Schneider, T. R., Lyons, J. B., & Khazon, S. (2013). Emotional intelligence and resilience. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(8), 909-914.
Serrat, O., & Serrat, O. (2017). Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. Knowledge solutions: Tools, methods, and approaches to drive organizational performance, 329-339.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]