Emotional Intelligence

09 May 2014

What makes for a successful life? That is a central question behind this blog, as well as many research studies, books, leadership seminars and general conversation.

For years educators and managers focused on IQ—how SMART people are.

But since the early 1990s, another quotient has arisen—EQ—emotional quotient.

Instead of measuring mental capacities, EQ measures social capacities. It refers to one’s ability to identify and manage emotions, both in themselves and others. It has to do with our emotional responses to various life experiences such as stress, challenges, grief, conflict and diverse social situations.

If you have a high EQ, you are able to recognize your emotional state and that of others. You know how to engage others in ways that draw them to yourself rather than alienate them. You use your emotions to achieve success, built healthy relationships, achieve goals and lead a fulfilling life.

If you have a low EQ, you become easily overwhelmed by situations, are unable to read other’s emotions, and find your goals sabotaged by emotions you can’t control. You can take a short test to measure your EQ.

The good news is that no matter how developed our EQ, we can all grow in our social and emotional learning (SEL). We can develop emotional and social skills.

SEL programs in schools have helped raise both academic achievement and social behavior. According to a lead EQ researcher, Daniel Goleman, schools that teach SEL experience better attendance, see grades improve by an average of 38% and report misbehavior drops of 28%. Learning to be in touch with one’s emotions and know when, where and how to adequately express them, is key for life success and emotional well being.

In his book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman wrote that preliminary science is showing the importance of developing the prefrontal cortex, “which manage working memory—what we hold in mind as we learn—and inhibit disruptive emotional impulses.” He goes on to suggest that, “neuroplasticity, the shaping of the brain through repeated experiences, plays a key role in the benefits of SEL.”

Emotional Intelligence is increasingly a factor companies consider when making new hires, and developing and promoting employees. It’s also an area discussed in interpersonal communication education, because being socially skillful is essential for successful relationships and careers.

Sometimes we put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble. The lesson is that we need to learn intellectually AND emotionally.

“Those who can manage their emotional lives with more calm and self-awareness seem to have a distinct and measurable healthy advantage, as has now been confirmed by many studies.”

Discover your EQ score by taking this short quiz.

Sources consulted and recommended reading:

Goleman, D. (2005). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.

Segal, J. and Smith, M (updated February, 2014). Emotional Intelligence. Helpguide. Retrieved May 7, 2014 from: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J.D. (1989). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp185-211.

Royalty-free image by Robin Goossens; retrieved from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/947905

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