July 4

What Are the Concepts of Emotional Intelligence?


Most often we do not have conscious awareness of our emotional intelligence, however it still has a very profound impact on all aspects of our lives. Being Emotionally Intelligent helps us create strong long-term relationships, gain clarity on our decisions, helps us handle stress, and can even influence our overall success in school, the workplace, and most every other areas of life.  

Before we look at the concepts of emotional intelligence, it's important to define it.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to VeryWellMind.com, "Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions." While the ability to control and express emotions is important, understanding, interpreting, and responding to the emotions of others is also critical.

Emotional intelligence might seem like a complex or even vague concept. EI can also be looked at as a skill you can develop and hone. When you develop better emotional intelligence, it can become very helpful in many circumstances including:

  • When receiving and accessing feedback
  • When providing feedback and understanding others comprehension
  • When facing tough decisions like having to meet tight deadlines
  • Deciding on, or working through a change in your life
  • Dealing with failure or setbacks and how to frame them for a positive outcome
  • Handling challenging relationships
  • Dealing with sudden stressful events

All areas of our lives can benefit from using our emotional intelligence.

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five key elements to emotional intelligence:

  1. 1
    Emotional Self-awareness
  2. 2
    Emotional Self-regulation
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
    Social skills

Goleman believes working on these five areas of emotional intelligence can help a person become a better life manager. By increasing self-awareness and understanding of others, you can better manage yourself and those that you interact with on a daily basis.  

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Understanding the concepts of emotional intelligence is where we need to start.

Your emotions dictate how you act or react. Often, we act or react without thinking based on our emotions and how we are feeling at a particular moment. As we all know this can cause overreaction especially when we have a negative experience and react impulsively.  The first huge gain from improving one’s emotional intelligence is the giving one more options or choices instead of following our normal impulsive reactions to situations.

Gaining a stronger understanding of your emotions and the emotions of those around you can help lead to greater success both professionally and personally. Emotional intelligence comes into play in many situations including:

  • Improving relationships with ourselves (less negative inner chatter)
  •  With co-workers and other people in your life
  • Coaching, leading, and motivating a team
  • Resolving conflict
  • Handling difficult conversations with less chance of hurting the feelings of others
  • Keeping your emotions in check when you're overwhelmed or stressed

These are just a few areas where better emotional intelligence can benefit you. Whether it's in your personal life or in the workplace, developing the skill of emotional intelligence is critical to one’s success and often even one’s enjoyment of success.

Breaking Down the Key Elements of Emotional Intelligence

1. Emotional Self-awareness

When you become self-aware, you start the process to understand your own emotions in a more meaningful way. This is a critical both personally and in the workplace.  While it starts with recognizing ones feeling it often expands past that.

An emotionally self-aware person has the ability to understand how their actions, emotions, and moods will impact others. In order to be emotionally self-aware, one will need to choose to monitor their emotions.  This is a conscious decision to recognize our possible reactions and identifying our emotional state. A self-aware person often has much greater access to connect the way they are feeling and how they might act to get the best outcome in a particular situation.

2. Emotional Self-regulation

Once you have increased the awareness of your emotions, you have a possibility to self-regulate. This is the real skill of managing and adjusting your emotions. However, it is critical to understand this doesn't mean suppressing your emotions and/or hiding how you are feeling.   

Emotional self-regulation is the ability to consider the proper time to express your emotions. When you can communicate how you are feeling in the right context, you are taking deliberate and thoughtful action instead of reacting to the situation.

3. Motivation

Motivation, as it relates to emotional intelligence, first involves defining if the motivation is needed for ourselves or others.    We all have a need to be proficient in learning about ourselves and the best way to motivate ourselves.   The other need for most everyone especially in organizations whether you are in management or a leader, is what is the best path to motivate others.

At its core motivation is about creating energy-in-motion or motion towards a particular goal.  While this article is not about training one hint is understanding if your motivation is increased by forward rewards; i.e. a pay raise, a pat on the back, more respect …. ,or are you, or the person you are working with, away from motivated?   Away from motivation is being motivated to get away from pain, i.e. lessen stress, not get fired, fixing a relationship etc…

4. Empathy

Empathy is often developed by learning how to perceive emotions in others. As a starting point this is a critical skill for emotional intelligence as it is core component of building rapport and trust. Empathetic individuals can make great leaders, friends, and spouses. However, just being able to demonstrate empathy is only part of rapport building.

Along with identifying emotions in others, empathy includes responding effectively to the other person. For example, you might start by acknowledging someone’s feeling sad or hopeless with extra consideration.   Even an appreciation for them to trust you with the issue they are going through.  

Part of empathy is also understanding how you demonstrate empathy towards yourself.  If you make an error or fail at something is your default to be hard on yourself?   To engage in negative inner conversations?  I think everyone understands the point.   Sometimes empathy needs to be directed at ourselves.

5. Social skills

When it comes to social skills, this is the area of emotional intelligence where you put your emotions into action. The fact is, people are going to judge you by your emotions, your moods, your body language and tone of voice.  Building social skill flexibility will help build stronger relationships with others and promotes curiosity about other people and what is important to them.

5 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence Training In Organizations

1. Help Employees Advance Their Careers

Better emotional intelligence can help you and those you manage to advance their career. With the right training, an employee can improve their emotional intelligence and be stronger team members. We want intelligent leaders in our organizations and EI helps people the opportunity to develop and have much greater flexibility and options within the organization.

2. Reduces Workplace Stress

Of prime importance is how Emotional intelligence training can help reduce workplace stress. With more people within the company gaining better self-awareness and better empathy skills, the stress in the workplace can go down significantly. This results in more positive feelings, belonging to a team and produces higher productivity.

3. Makes Taking Constructive Criticism Easier

In just about any job or relationship, constructive criticism is necessary. With better emotional intelligence skills, employees can be more open to this criticism.   Just consider the angry stressed manager barking out required changes, vs the cool, calm manager understanding other people’s emotional states and communicating in a much more helpful manor.

4. Fosters a Positive Work Environment

When organization foster emotional intelligence training for their staff, the rewards are boundless creating a much more positive work environment. With leaders understanding their emotions and those of their workers they now have greater flexibility and how to react and hopefully create a more positive environment.

5. Improves Communication Skills

A large part of how we communicate, as humans, comes down to our emotions. We all want to get our points across and have our feelings validated.  With stronger emotional intelligence skills, we become better communicators.

In conclusion, there are many benefits to emotional intelligence training for ourselves personally and in the workplace. Whether it's just for the leaders or for all of the employees, an organization will reap the rewards by providing Emotional Intelligence training.

Understanding the concepts of emotional intelligence is just the start. As I stated earlier you can read 100 books on Emotional Intelligence and still be very emotionally unintelligent.   EI is fundamentally and inside process of learning about ourselves and others.   Working on developing the skills to become a more emotionally intelligent individual, will lead you to more success both professionally and in your personal life.

Frequently Ask Questions / Article Synopsis

  • What is Emotional Intelligence or EI?
  • Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. The ability to control and express emotions including, understanding, interpreting, and responding to the emotions of others.
  • What are the main areas of Emotional Intelligence?
  • Emotional Self-awareness, Emotional Self-regulation, Motivation, Empathy, Social skills
  • Why would Emotional Intelligence be helpful?
  • All human beings experience different emotions based on experiences.  Some emotions are pleasant and some can be negative.  An emotionally intelligent person has much greater flexibility and options to handle difficult challenges especially in reacting to real or perceived negative experiences.


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