The Ultimate Guide To Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman, psychologist and award-winning author, challenges traditional measures of intelligence as a predictor of life success. “What matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements”, he says, “is a definable set of emotional skills.”
 

 
Goleman brought the idea of emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) into popular culture with a bang when he released his 1995 best seller, Emotional Intelligence. Since the publication of that book, the concept of an alternative to more traditional measures like IQ has gone from strength to strength. Conferences have been run, studies undertaken, school programs updated, leadership models adjusted and academic institutes created - all dedicated to the idea of emotional intelligence.

And as it turns out - he’s right. There is an impressive (and growing) body of research indicating that emotional intelligence is important for success in many areas of life. Goleman goes one step further, calling it a master aptitude…

“Our emotions either get in the way of, or enhance, our ability to think and plan, to pursue a goal, to solve problems. Therefore, they define the limits of our capacity to use our mental abilities and determine how we do in life. And to the degree to which we are motivated by feelings of enthusiasm and pleasure in what we do or even by an optimal level of anxiety they propel us into accomplishment. It is in this sense that emotional intelligence is a master aptitude, a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.” Daniel Goleman
 

“Our emotions either get in the way of, or enhance, our ability to think and plan, to pursue a goal, to solve problems. Therefore, they define the limits of our capacity to use our mental abilities and determine how we do in life. And to the degree to which we are motivated by feelings of enthusiasm and pleasure in what we do or even by an optimal level of anxiety they propel us into accomplishment. It is in this sense that emotional intelligence is a master aptitude, a capacity that profoundly affects all other abilities, either facilitating or interfering with them.”
~ Daniel Goleman

 
Here’s Daniel Goleman himself, summarising emotional intelligence for Big Think…
 

 
Goleman isn’t the first to propose the idea of emotional intelligence. In fact, it’s based on a long history of research and theory in personality and social psychology. In many ways, emotional intelligence is quite an old concept - something Goleman is quick to point out. In fact, one of his main arguments was that the abilities associated with emotional intelligence have been studied by psychologists for many years. What he has been is the major driving force behind the acceptance and use of emotional intelligence both as a definable skill set and an excellent predictor of future success.

So, where did the concept of emotional intelligence first come from? How did it evolve? What is it precisely?

Let’s take a look…
 

THE EVOLUTION OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

It all began about 2,000 years ago when Plato wrote, “All learning has an emotional base.” Since then, scientists, educators and philosophers have worked to prove or disprove the importance of feelings. Unfortunately, for a large part of those two millennia the commonly held thought was, “Emotions are in the way - they keep us from focusing and making good decisions.” However, in the last three decades, research has proven it’s just the opposite.

In the 1950’s, Abraham Maslow wrote about how people could enhance their emotional, physical, spiritual and mental strengths. His work sparked the human potential movement, which was followed in the 1970s and 80s by the development of many new sciences of human capacity. Serious research was occurring to define both emotions and intelligence. One of these researchers was Peter Salovey, now President of Yale University. He says that over the last few decades, beliefs about emotions and intelligence have both changed. “Where intelligence was once perfection, people were recognising that there was more to life. Where emotion was once perdition, people were recognising that it might have substantive value.”

In 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer published an article titled, “Emotional Intelligence”, which defined EQ as a scientifically testable intelligence. They described it like this…

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to 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.”

Salovey & Mayer went on to publish many more articles together. Then, in the early 1990’s, Daniel Goleman became aware of their work, which eventually led to the publication of his seminal work, Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman was a science writer for the New York Times, whose interest was brain and behaviour research. He’d been trained as a psychologist at Harvard where he worked with David McClelland, who (among others) was becoming concerned with how little traditional tests of cognitive intelligence told us about what it takes to be successful in life.

IQ by itself is not a very good predictor of performance. Scientific evidence suggests it accounts for less than a quarter of the variance between success and failure. One study even indicated as little as four percent - a shockingly low number.
 

IQ by itself is not a very good predictor of performance.

 
The Sommerville study is a great example of the limits of IQ as a predictor of success. It was a 40 year longitudinal investigation of 450 boys who grew up in Sommerville, Massachusetts. Two-thirds of the boys were from welfare families and one-third had IQ’s below 90. However, IQ had little relation to how well they did at work or in the rest of their lives. What made the biggest difference was childhood abilities such as being able to handle frustration, control emotions and get along with other people.

With results like that pouring in, it’s not hard to see why researchers turned to emotional intelligence.

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HEAD VERSUS HEART

People often view head and heart (IQ and EQ) as mutually exclusive. In truth, to be highly successful we need both traditional intelligence and emotional intelligence working harmoniously.
 

 
The connections between the amygdala and neocortex are where we engage in the battle between head and heart. Neuroscientists tell us that the prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain responsible for working memory. That is, our ability to hold in our mind all the facts essential for completing a given task. When we exhibit strong emotions like anger or anxiety, neural static is created and the prefrontal lobe can’t maintain working memory. This explains why when we are emotionally upset we ‘just can’t think straight’.
 

In truth, to be highly successful we need both traditional intelligence and emotional intelligence working harmoniously.

 
Dr Damasio, a neurologist from Iowa College of Medicine, studied patients with damage to the circuit between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. He found that although their decision making is flawed, they show no signs of deterioration in cognitive ability (IQ). He argues that their decision making is defective because they have lost access to their emotional learning, concluding that the emotional brain must be as involved in reasoning as the thinking brain.

Feelings are indispensable for rational decision making because they send us in the direction where the logical brain can be put to best use. The emotional learning life has given us sends messages that streamline our decision making by eliminating some options at the start.

As Goleman puts it, “we have two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional. How we do in life is determined by both – it is not just IQ, but emotional intelligence that matters. Indeed, intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence.”

To harmonise our head and heart so that we do well in everyday life requires understanding exactly what it means to use our emotions intelligently. Goldman describes it as, “being able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustration; to control impulse and delay gratification, to regulate our moods and keep distress from swamping our ability to think, to empathise and to hope.”

When dealing with our emotions the goal is always balance - every feeling has its value and significance. What we need is appropriate emotion, that is, feelings proportionate to the circumstances.

Keeping our distressing emotions in check is the key to emotional well being - it is the emotional extremes that undermine our stability. In their studies of mood, Diener and Larsen had people carrying beepers that would go off at random times to remind them to record their emotions. The results indicated it’s the ratio of positive to negative emotions that determines a sense of well being - that is, when people’s moods are averaged over weeks or months, they tend to reflect that person’s overall sense of well being.

The research indicates that for most people, extremely intense feelings are relatively rare. Most of us only have mild bumps in our emotional rollercoaster, which is fantastic news for those keen on practicing emotional intelligence.
 

“We have two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional. How we do in life is determined by both – it is not just IQ, but emotional intelligence that matters. Indeed, intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence.” ~ Daniel Goleman

 
Why? Because mild bumps are a lot easier to manage using newly minted emotional intelligence skills than massive catastrophes are. Granted, EQ skills will be effective everywhere on the emotional spectrum, but it’s certainly easier to get going on a speed bump than a mountain climb.

So what, exactly, is emotional intelligence?
 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

 

GOLEMAN’S FRAMEWORK FOR EQ

In essence, there are four key competencies involved in emotional intelligence, each involving a number of specific skills.

The four key competencies are also called the four quadrants, as the emotional intelligence framework is often presented in basic graph form.
 

 
As you can see the four competencies are self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. The first two are inwardly focused, the second two externally focused.
 

 
Let’s outline the specific skills required for each of the emotional intelligence competencies.
 

SELF-AWARENESS

People with self-awareness are those who can accurately recognise and describe their feelings. These people know their internal states, preferences, resources and intuition.

The self-awareness skills are emotional self-awareness, accurate self-assessment and self-confidence.

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness is defined as recognising one's emotions and their effects. People with this skill:

  1. Know which emotions they are feeling and why
  2. Realise the links between their feelings and what they think, do and say
  3. Recognise how their feelings affect their performance
  4. Have a guiding awareness of their values and goals

Accurate Self-Assessment

Accurate self-assessment is defined as knowing one's inner resources, abilities and limits. People with this skill are:

  1. Aware of their strengths and weaknesses
  2. Reflective, learning from experience
  3. Open to candid feedback, new perspectives, continuous learning and self-development
  4. Able to show a sense of humour and perspective about themselves

Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is defined as having a strong sense of one’s self worth and capabilities. People will this skill:

  1. Present themselves with self-assurance
  2. Have ‘presence’
  3. Can voice views that are unpopular and go out on a limb for what is right
  4. Are decisive, able to make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures

 

SELF-MANAGEMENT

People who are good at self-management are those who can adjust their feelings as an act of will. They are good at managing internal states, impulses and resources.

The self-management skills are self control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, achievement drive and initiative.

Self-Control

Self-control is defined as the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check. People with this skill:

  1. Manage their impulsive feelings and distressing emotions well
  2. Stay composed, positive and unflappable even in trying moments
  3. Think clearly and stay focused under pressure

Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness is defined as the ability to maintain integrity and act congruently with one’s values. People with this skill:

  1. Act ethically and are above reproach
  2. Build trust through their reliability and authenticity
  3. Admit their own mistakes and confront unethical actions in others
  4. Take tough, principled stands even if they are unpopular

Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is defined as taking responsibility for personal performance. People with this skill:

  1. Meet commitments and keep promises
  2. Hold themselves accountable for meeting their objectives
  3. Are organised and careful in their work

Adaptability

Adaptability is defined as flexibility in handling change. People with this skill:

  1. Seek out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources
  2. Entertain original solutions to problems
  3. Generate new ideas
  4. Take fresh perspectives and risks in their thinking
  5. Smoothly handle multiple demands, shifting priorities and rapid change
  6. Adapt their responses and tactics to fit fluid circumstances
  7. Are flexible in how they see events

Achievement Drive

Achievement drive is defined as the ability to strive to improve or meet a standard of excellence, and pursue goals despite obstacles and setbacks. People with this skill:

  1. Are results oriented, with a high drive to meet their objectives and standards
  2. Set challenging goals and take calculated risks
  3. Pursue information to reduce uncertainty and find ways to do better
  4. Learn how to improve their performance
  5. Persist in seeking goals despite obstacles and setbacks
  6. Operate from hope of success rather than fear of failure
  7. See setbacks as due to manageable circumstance rather than a personal flaw

Initiative

Initiative is defined as readiness to act on opportunities. People with this skill:

  1. Are ready to seize opportunities
  2. Pursue goals beyond what’s required or expected of them
  3. Cut through red tape and bend the rules when necessary to get the job done
  4. Mobilise others through unusual, enterprising efforts
  5. Seek out fresh ideas from a wide variety of sources
  6. Entertain original solutions to problems
  7. Generate new ideas
  8. Take fresh perspectives and risks in their thinking
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The Emotional Intelligence Formula

Discover the 3-step formula to guarantee success by impacting on the circumstances, rather than allowing the circumstances to impact on you. We believe EQ is the number one skill you’ll need to master if you want to reach your full potential. It is also the only known predictor of future success.
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SOCIAL AWARENESS

People who have good social awareness skills are those who can recognise another’s feelings and respond appropriately. They are aware of others’ feelings, needs and concerns.

The social awareness skills are empathy, service orientation and organisational awareness.
 
Empathy

Empathy is defined as sensing others' feelings and perspectives and taking an active interest in their concerns. People with this skill:

  1. Are attentive to emotional cues and listen well
  2. Show sensitivity and understand others’ perspectives
  3. Help out based on understanding other people’s needs and feelings
  4. Respect and relate well to people from varied backgrounds
  5. Understand diverse worldwide views and are sensitive to group differences
  6. See diversity as an opportunity
  7. Challenge bias and intolerance

 
Service Orientation

Service orientation is defined as anticipating, recognising, and meeting customers' needs. People with this skill:

  1. Understand customers’ needs and match them to services or products
  2. Seek ways to increase customers and loyalty
  3. Gladly offer appropriate assistance
  4. Grasp a customer’s perspective, acting as a trusted advisor

 
Organisational Awareness

Organisational awareness is defined as reading a group's emotional currents and power relationships. People with this skill:

  1. Accurately read key power relationships
  2. Detect crucial social networks
  3. Understand the forces that shape views and actions of clients, customers or competitors
  4. Accurately read organisational and external realities

 

RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

People who are good at relationship management are those who can persuade and influence others - with integrity. They are adept at inducing desirable responses in others.

The relationship management skills are developing others, influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, change catalyst, building bonds, teamwork and collaboration.
 
Developing Others

Developing others is defined as sensing others' development needs and bolstering their abilities. People with this skill:

  1. Acknowledge and reward people’s strengths and accomplishments
  2. Offer useful feedback and identify people’s need for further growth
  3. Mentor, give timely coaching, and offer assignments that challenge and foster a person’s skills

 
Influence

Influence is defined as wielding effective tactics for persuasion. People with this skill:

  1. Are skilled at winning people over
  2. Fine-tune presentations to appeal to the listener
  3. Use complex strategies like indirect influence to build
    consensus and support
  4. Orchestrate dramatic events to effectively make a point

 
Communication

Communication is defined as listening openly and sending convincing messages. People with this skill:

  1. Are effective in give-and-take, registering emotional cues in attuning their message
  2. Deal with difficult situations straightforwardly
  3. Listen well, seek mutual understanding and welcome sharing of information fully
  4. Foster open communication and stay receptive to bad news as well as good

 
Conflict Management

Conflict management is defined as negotiating and resolving disagreements. People with this skill:

  1. Handle difficult people and tense situations with diplomacy and tact
  2. Spot potential conflict, bring disagreements into the open and help de-escalate
  3. Encourage debate and open discussion
  4. Orchestrate win-win solutions

 
Leadership

Leadership is defined as inspiring and guiding individuals and groups. People with this skill:

  1. Readily make sacrifices to meet a larger organisational goal
  2. Find a sense of purpose in the larger mission
  3. Use the group’s core values in making decisions and clarifying choices
  4. Actively seek out opportunities to fulfil the group’s mission
  5. Articulate and arouse enthusiasm for a shared vision and mission
  6. Step forward as needed, regardless of position
  7. Guide the performance of others
  8. Lead by example

 
Change Catalyst

Change catalyst is defined as initiating or managing change. People with this skill:

  1. Recognise the need for change and remove barriers
  2. Challenge the status quo to acknowledge the need for change
  3. Champion the change and enlist others in its pursuit
  4. Model the change expected of others

 
Building Bonds

Building bonds is defined as nurturing instrumental relationships. People with this skill:

  1. Cultivate and maintain extensive informal networks
  2. Seek out relationships that are mutually beneficial
  3. Build rapport and keep others in the loop
  4. Maintain and make personal friendships among work associates

 
Teamwork & Collaboration

Teamwork and collaboration is defined as working with others toward shared goals and creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals. People with this skill:

  1. Balance a focus on task with attention to relationships
  2. Collaborate, sharing plans, information and resources
  3. Promote a friendly, cooperative climate
  4. Spot and nurture opportunities for collaboration
  5. Model team qualities like respect, helpfulness and cooperation
  6. Draw all members into active and enthusiastic participation
  7. Build team identity and commitment
  8. Protect the group and its reputation; share credit

 
Want to hear more about emotional intelligence and how to improve it from Goleman himself? Check out this in-depth interview with Tom Bilyeu…
 

 
That’s it - emotional intelligence in a nutshell! It’s a lot to take in, but working on improving your EQ is absolutely time well spent.

As Daniel Goleman says, it is a master aptitude. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, calls it a ‘foundational skill’.

Here’s his take on why EQ is so important…
 

 
So, if you build your skills in this area - you can become an unstoppable force.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a few practical exercises to help you strengthen your emotional intelligence skills…

Emotional Intelligence Formula
Free Video Course  |  Instant Access

The Emotional Intelligence Formula

Discover the 3-step formula to guarantee success by impacting on the circumstances, rather than allowing the circumstances to impact on you. We believe EQ is the number one skill you’ll need to master if you want to reach your full potential. It is also the only known predictor of future success.
Start Now

BOOSTING YOUR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

 

Reflect on your emotions

Identifying emotions is one of the key skills required for emotional intelligence, so you’ll need to get very familiar with them. Having the courage to recognise that you aren’t perfect and look at yourself honestly will undoubtedly improve your EQ.

Reflecting on past situations builds your ability to recognise your emotions and will also clue you into any emotional patterns you may have. Bring to mind several situations that were not ideal for you - for example, getting an email that implies your boss is displeased with your work, being cut off in traffic when running late or having your partner unfairly blame you for something. What was your reaction to these stressful situations? Can you see any pattern? What could you learn from this reflection so you can improve your response next time?
 

Check in with yourself

Taking the time each day to check in with yourself emotionally is incredibly helpful. Try taking ten minutes at the end of each day to sit still and identify how you’re feeling - you can even carry a notebook with you to add emotions as you notice them arising.

Regularly checking in with yourself in this way will build your self-awareness skills, which is critical to strengthening EQ.
 

Express your emotions

Once you’ve identified your emotions, it’s very important to express them. While it isn’t appropriate to yell at your boss when you’re angry, you do need to express that anger at some point so it doesn’t get bottled up.

Find ways to responsibly and authentically express your emotions without any blame, shame or drama. Yell underwater, punch a pillow, cry during a sad movie, talk to a friend, write in a journal - the options are plenty. Just make sure you’re using them often!
 

Observe

Constantly observe how you’re responding to different people and situations. When you have time to reflect later on, ask yourself if the response you chose was the best option or if you could learn from it and do better next time.
 

Talk to someone objective

We often get so wrapped up in our own lives that we no longer see clearly. Once your emotions have been triggered you'll need to have some strategies that calm you down. One great thing to do is talk to a close friend or partner you can trust to be honest with you, who can be objective about the situation.
 

Examine your actions before taking them

Practice examining how your actions might affect others. Before you do something, consider the action you’re about to take and what impact it could have. Put yourself in other people’s shoes and decide how you’d feel in their circumstances. If those feelings are negative, ask yourself if there’s an alternative course of action and if there isn’t, how you might help others deal with the effects of the action you need to take.
 

Insert ‘The Gap’

Inserting ‘the gap’ simply means pausing before you react to a situation. When something that involves heightened emotions is going on, pause, take a deep breath and count to ten. Doing so allows you to choose how you respond, rather than reacting without thinking.

This is one of the simplest but most powerful emotional intelligence tools. Use it regularly!
 

 

Look for the lesson

When you find yourself struggling with life’s challenges, don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, choose to look for the lesson. Ask yourself, ‘What is the lesson here? What can I learn from this experience?’
 

Take responsibility

Always take responsibility for yourself and your actions. When you make a mistake, own it, learn from it and move on. If you upset or offend someone, apologise to them quickly and directly.
 

Improve your conflict resolution skills

Make a deliberate effort to improve your conflict resolution skills. To successfully resolve a conflict you will need to learn and practice two core skills: the ability to quickly reduce stress in the moment and the ability to remain comfortable enough with your emotions to react constructively even if you are feeling ‘under attack’.
 

Practice practice practice

Creating and maintaining high level emotional intelligence skills is a life long journey - not something you do once and forget about. Practice is key!

If you’ve been practicing all of those techniques and you’re hungry for more - check out our Emotional Intelligence Formula course.
 
Complete it and you’ll be unstoppable.

Emotional Intelligence Formula
Free Video Course  |  Instant Access

The Emotional Intelligence Formula

Discover the 3-step formula to guarantee success by impacting on the circumstances, rather than allowing the circumstances to impact on you. We believe EQ is the number one skill you’ll need to master if you want to reach your full potential. It is also the only known predictor of future success.
Start Now

The Quantum Orange Team

The QO team work hard to make sure our blog is packed with awesome, actionable content for you to read. While some posts are an individual effort, others are brainstormed, reworked, and even debated over lunch. By the time they reach you, the whole gang has contributed to them. So being the emotionally intelligent lot we are - we agreed to simply share the content credit!