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Emotional Intelligence: Getting what You Want from Yourself and Others

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional IntelligenceEmotional Intelligence may have felt like a fad in 1995, when we all rushed to buy Daniel Goleman’s book of the same name  (1996 in the UK). But from a perspective of over 20 years on, it still holds its own as a useful concept and very much fits the bill as a Big Idea.

And why not? After all, the theory of emotional intelligence is that the way we succeed in life is through our emotional connections. Firstly with ourselves and then, secondly, with others. And the idea isn’t new. After all, did not Socrates say

‘First, know thyself’

Probably not. But it’s been attributed to a host of ancient thinkers, including Aeschylus and Heraclitus.

But I digress. Emotional intelligence allows you to:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Regulate your emotions, choices, and motivation
  3. Understand the emotions of others
  4. Influence and work with them

Why Do You Need Emotional Intelligence?

Books on Emotional Intelligence (including the very fine Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook ) will offer a slew of statistics and case studies citing the value of Emotional Intelligence. Indeed, the best-selling book on the subject is subtitled ‘Why it can Matter More than IQ’.

But, I think the case is easy to make. Whatever it is, the ability to understand and use emotions in a world where personal communication is essential has to be valuable. And if you can develop that ability and refine it, you will be better able to thrive in a social world.

I think there can be no doubt that some people are better at understanding and managing their own emotions than others. And, likewise, some are more or less capable at reading, interpreting, and working with the emotional responses of the people around them. I’m all for an evidence base – and there is one. But that’s not what interests me here.

Valuable outcomes from high emotional intelligence include competence in:

  • decision-making
  • coping with stress, fear, anger, and other emotions
  • staying motivated
  • supporting colleagues
  • team working
  • leadership
  • negotiation and influence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

A nice, simple working definition is that:

Emotional Intelligence is a cluster of abilities around emotional responses. These include the ability to recognise and interpret your own emotions and those of other people. Also to choose your behaviour and put aside your emotional responses, or select to be guided by those responses. And it’s also the ability to work with the emotional states of other people to create successful social outcomes.

Where do the Ideas of Emotional Intelligence Come from?

A full history of the ideas around emotional intelligence could more than fill an article. But, for managers, I think there are five names to be aware of.

Reuven Bar-On

Bar-On is an Israeli psychologist. Since 1982, he has been working on a conceptual model of what we now call emotional intelligence. He originally referred to it as emotional and social competence. He studies its ability to predict performance and behaviour. Alongside this, he has also developed a psychometric model of emotional intelligence, the EQ-i™. This follows his 15-factor model of emotional intelligence. These 15 factors make the model less useful to managers than to serious psychologists and emotional intelligence practitioners. However, his psychometric is the most widely used.

Bar-On’s 15 factors are:

  1. Self-regard
  2. Emotional self-awareness
  3. Assertiveness/Emotional self-expression
  4. Independence
  5. Empathy
  6. Social responsibility
  7. Interpersonal relationship
  8. Stress tolerance
  9. Impulse control
  10. Reality-testing
  11. Flexibility
  12. Problem-solving
  13. Self-actualization
  14. Optimism
  15. Happiness/well-being

Howard Gardner

At around the same time, in 1983, Harvard psychologist, Howard Gardner, published the first edition of his book ‘Frames of Mind‘ (US|UK). This introduced a wide audience to his model of ‘Multiple Intelligences‘. Do take a look at the links, as this is valuable information.

Two of his original seven forms of intelligence were:

  1. Intrapersonal Intelligence (being aware of and understanding yourself)
  2. Interpersonal Intelligence (being adept at operating in social settings)

This clearly laid the groundwork for much of the thinking that followed, and is reflected clearly in the most popular model of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman’s.

Peter Salovey and John Mayer

The first explicit model of emotional intelligence started from a simple definition:

the capacity to reason about emotions, and of emotions, to enhance thinking. It includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

Four Abilities

Salovey and Mayer suggested emotional intelligence is made up of four abilities:

  1. Perceiving emotions
    Ability to recognise your own emotions
    Ability to read other people’s emotions in expressions, images, gestures, and tone of voice
  2. Using emotions
    Ability to harness emotions to help get the outcomes you want
  3. Understanding emotions
    Ability to understand emotion language, how emotions work, and what they mean.
  4. Managing emotions
    Ability to regulate your own emotions and influence those of others.

Their model is considered to be robust in its interpretation of emotional ability, but is not very useful in a work setting.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and journalist. He brought emotional intelligence to the public’s attention with his massive 1998 best seller, ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (US|UK). He followed this up with two further books that deserve to be read by all serious managers:

  • Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998) (US|UK)
  • The New Leaders (2002) (US|UK)

His model is the most widely known and used in the workplace context.

Goleman’s Five Emotional Intelligence Skills

  • Self-awareness
    Ability to know your own emotional states, your strengths and weaknesses, and what drives you. Also understanding how these impact your choices and the effect they have on the people around you.
  • Self-regulation
    Ability to control your emotional responses and drives, to get the best outcome in a situation.
  • Empathy
    Ability to recognise and take account of other people’s feelings.
  • Social skill
    Ability to manage relationships, to support, lead, and influence the people around you.
  • Motivation
    Ability to motivate yourself to do what you choose to do.
    This appeared in his first book, but was later subsumed into self-regulation

What is Your experience of Emotional Intelligence?

We’d love to hear your experiences, ideas, and questions. Please leave them in the comments below.

To learn more…

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook is full of tips to improve your emotional and social awareness, and ability to manage feelings – your own and other people’s.

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