Emotional Intelligence

"All learning has an emotional base." -- Plato

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a different type of intelligence. It’s about being “heart smart,” not just “book smart.” The evidence shows that it matters just as much as intellectual ability, if not more so, when it comes to happiness and success in life. EI helps you build strong relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your goals.

We’re referring to the “ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.” Some researchers suggest that EI can be learned and strengthened, while others claim it is an inborn characteristic. In their highly acclaimed article "Emotional Intelligence," Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer define EI as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions" (1990). In 1995, Daniel Goleman’s book also brought this relatively new behavioral model to the fore.

The skills boost your own “EI” by learning how to rapidly reduce stress, connect to your emotions, communicate nonverbally, use humor and play to deal with challenges, and diffuse conflicts with confidence and self-assurance.

The Four Branches

Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of EI: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.

1. Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.

2. Reasoning with Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.

3. Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he's been fighting with his wife.

4. Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of EI. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.

Goleman, on the other hand, identified five 'domains' of EI:

1. Knowing your emotions.

2. Managing your own emotions.

3. Motivating yourself.

4. Recognizing and understanding other people's emotions.

5. Managing relationships, i.e., managing the emotions of others.

The following points make it abundantly clear how one’s EI is quite relevant in personal and professional life and development, and is another tool used in our life coaching and business coaching:

· Ethical business and socially responsible leadership are strongly connected to EI.

· The concept of love and spirituality in organizations are also connected to EI. Compassion and humanity are fundamental life-forces; our EI enables us to appreciate and develop these vital connections between self, others, purpose, meaning, existence, life and the world as a whole, and to help others do the same.

· People with strong EI have less emotional 'baggage', and conversely people with low EI tend to have personal unresolved issues which either act as triggers or are constants in personality make-up. High EI = low insecurity = more openness.

· Abraham Maslow’s theory is also relevant to Emotional Intelligence. Self-actualizers naturally have stronger EI. People struggling to meet lower order needs - and arguably even middle order needs such as esteem needs - tend to have lower EI than self-actualizers. The original 5-stage Hierarchy of Needs explains that all needs other than self-actualization are deficiency drivers, which suggest, in other words, some EI development potential or weakness.

· EI is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the EI principles provide a new way to understand and assess people's behaviors, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential. EI is an important consideration in human resources planning, job profiling, recruitment interviewing and selection, management development, customer relations and customer service, and more.

· The EI concept argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of EI that dictate and enable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ, which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioral and character elements. We've all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

· EI embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioral, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy. By developing our EI in these areas and the domains or branches, we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. The process and outcomes of EI development also contain many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organizations, by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony.

For more information about Emotional Intelligence, sign up to download two excellent PDF’s on the subject.