What exactly is emotional intelligence? In the minds of many, putting the words “emotional” and “intelligence” in the same sentence is contradictory. Emotions seem to have no relationship with intelligence; they are simply something we “feel”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Emotions are data. They give us information that helps us interpret something about ourselves, our current circumstances and/or the people around us.
Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In order to accomplish this one must have emotional awareness, the ability to use your emotions for thinking and problem solving and the ability to manage those emotions in yourself and others.
Harvard Business Review has a similar definition: “…emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.”
Daniel Goleman, the author of the book “Emotional Intelligence”, is credited with popularizing the concept and making it well known in both the academic and business environments. He uses the definition of John Mayer and Peter Salovey: emotional intelligence is “knowing one’s emotions; managing emotions; motivating oneself; recognizing emotions in others and handling relationships”.
All of these definitions are helpful, and touch on the basic tenets of emotional intelligence but do not help us see its usefulness. For that the definition used by Six Seconds: The Emotional Intelligence Network is most helpful. According to them emotional intelligence is “a set of competencies that allows you to apply thinking and feeling to make optimal decisions.” Thinking and feeling working together to make better decisions and simply manage life better.
Everyone wants to manage life better. It is hardwired into our DNA to seek success, success as it is defined by each individual. For some that may be material wealth, for others it may be prestige and reputation, for still others success may be defined in terms of relationships. But for any of these to be addressed the first step is one of awareness. Awareness of where you are, awareness of what tools you have been trying to use to achieve success and awareness of the other tools available to use. For many people, emotional intelligence has not been on the radar as a tool available to them. They are not aware that it is a tool, nor are they aware that emotional intelligence is learnable.
Someone certified to assess emotional intelligence can help you learn where you are currently and what is available to help you develop your own emotional intelligence.