The term Emotional Intelligence (EI) or Emotional Quotient (EQ) introduced by Peter Salovery and John Mayer in an article in the journal ‘Imagination, Cognition and Personality’ in 1990, was not an accepted measurement of intelligence until 1995 when more light was shone on it in the best selling book, ‘Emotional Intelligence’ authored by Daniel Goleman, and has been discovered to be of higher essence than Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in relationship management either in relation with oneself and with other people.

It has been seen as a must have skill needed to be harnessed for leadership roles of diverse kinds, either in a professional or informal association

What is Emotional intelligence?

Salovery and Mayer (1990) defined EI as the ability to be aware of one’s own and other’s emotions, identify the different emotions shown, analyze them and use this understanding to control one’s thoughts and actions.

Emotional intelligence is the junction where cognitive intellect and emotions meet, and is the ability to perceive, understand, use and manage one’s emotion as well as that of others.

Individuals with high EI are self-aware, social-aware, self-managing and social-managing, helping them have positive relationships with themselves and those around them.

Why is Emotional Intelligence important?

Amongst the different kinds of intelligence a person can have, Emotional intelligence has been proven by several researches and studies to be the most important for people to coexist.

Initially, higher intelligence was measured as having a high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) with the focus being on cognitive skills relating to memory retention, critical thinking and problem-solving.

It has however been discovered that as important as intellect is, it is not enough to navigate through the uncertainty and complexity of life and relation with people around us.

Goleman(1995) insinuates in his book that though a high Intelligence quotient could be a major determinant for an excellent academic performance, one would need a high emotional intelligence to attain success within and without oneself.

Beyond the focus on the impact of high EI on relationships, studies have shown that having a high emotional intelligence has been linked to improved general self and organizational health.

Those high on this intelligence have been seen to have more self-confidence, high self-esteem, be more goal driven and focus, maintain productive relationships and have better leadership prospect.

How to measure Emotional intelligence?

Different theories have been proposed to help measure the range of an individual’s Emotional intelligence. A major challenge that was faced by earlier EI test researchers and developers was the seemingly impossibility of encompassing the whole theoretical and practical facet of EI to give a good psychometry, thereby resulting in them creating measures tapping into diverse related but different aspects of EI instead of the whole.

The models used by mental health professionals to measure emotional intelligence include the Mayer-Salovery-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) which assesses the four aspect of EI as proposed by the Salovery and Mayer which includes perceiving, identification, utilization and management of emotions. And the Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI) which requires the evaluation of the individual’s social competence by other persons, this is commonly used in distinguishing for leadership role analysis.

The model involves three EI test exercises: self-report test, others-report and ability-testing.

  • Self-report test: this is the commonest, and entails individuals reporting and rating their consistent emotional performance. It is mostly in the form of a written or verbal questionnaire, a good example are EI and personality tests carried out on the Internet.
  • Ability-testing: rather than just assessing skills theoretically, this involves having the individual respond to situations and then assessing the abilities demonstrated.
  • Others-report: this involves accreditation from people with close and distinct relationships with the individual in study and is designed to assess the Social and Managerial skills of the individual in question.

How to improve Emotional intelligence?

Like every other skill, with the right understanding and amount of effort, Emotional intelligence can be learnt and developed.

Although developing one’s emotional intelligence has been discovered to be tougher when compared to developing cognitive skills; This is so because the human feelings and emotions is a wide topic that can not be completely covered coupled with managing the emotions of other people which would most of the time be out of your control.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible and ten things could be put in place to help you improve your emotional intelligence:

  1. Make it a conscious effort to understand how and what you feel at different times without making judgment.
  2. Analyze how appropriate each emotional response you give is and how better it could be.
  3. Identify your consistent inappropriate emotional response and the triggers. Oftentimes, people pay attention to their ‘bad’ emotional response but most importantly, uncover what the triggers are and how to avoid or manage them.
  4. Take responsibility for your emotions. While it is easy to blame every other person for what you do, learn to own up to every decision you make.
  5. It has never been easy but emotionally intelligent people are thoughtful and calculative of the decisions they make. Avoid impulsive actions as much as possible.
  6. Learn effective communication. Ensure you communicate as clearly and concisely as possible at all times with your emotions in check.
  7. Learn to see things from one more person’s perspective. To manage people’s emotions, you need to be able to see what they see.
  8. Staying positive is not a cliche as it was known to be for a long time but has been discovered to be a major factor in self-motivation. Having a positive mindset serves as an anchor in many storms.
  9. Develop techniques and methodology on managing stressors.
  10. Like every skill, keep practicing time and time over.

Emotional intelligence skills

Emotional intelligence skills are not inborn but rather can be learnt or developed to enhance personal development in regards to interpersonal relations. These skills are divided into two elements; the Personal skills set, required for relationship with oneself, and the Social skill set, required for interpersonal relationships.

Personal skill set;

  • Self-awareness: this involves being highly conscious of one’s emotional state at different times and situations- whether negative or positive. Helping you know and name your emotional response to things and how your beliefs and personality influences such. This is needed to help you understand how you think, feel and act, and why you do so, and not to pass an action as bad and the other good.
  • Self-regulation: while a response can not be defined as good or bad, it can be said to be appropriate or inappropriate. And thus, measures are required to ensure that the response keeps being so or never repeats itself. These skills help to manage these circumstances in order to respond to them appropriately and in the most healthy way. An emotionally intelligent person is not hasty in taking actions nor controlled by their impulsive feelings but is able to reason and make judgment amidst an emotional run over. This is possible by developing Self control, Conscientiousness and Adaptability.
  • Motivation: this is the drive that pushes a person to become a better version of themselves. This is directed towards being confident of oneself, owning up to actions and making decisions on what to do per time. This focuses on self acknowledgment and gratification rather than looking to external ones.

Social skill set;

  • Empathy: this helps in the awareness, understanding and having concern for how other people feel as well as how you can help them be at their best emotional state. This involves being able to see and understand things from the perspective of the other people involved rather than just yours.
  • Social skills: these involve good communication skills, conflict and resolution management, respect for others and their view, and deep connection with people. Good communication skills here involve having clear, concise and considerate communication with people while listening actively, encouraging input without imposing your ideas or opinion on them in any way but rather welcoming both aligning and contradicting opinions from parties involved in an agreement or decision making process.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

The best managerial skill anyone can own is that which helps in managing oneself and other people.

Aforetime, skill set sponsored by high EI has been a basic requirement for certain job types and positions such as managers, team leaders, social care workers, healthcare providers etc where human relation is believed to be the core of their duties.

With a series of studies and discoveries on how productivity could be improved upon amongst employees, it has been seen that workers measured for a high EI are able to manage stress better, manage time more, self-motivate themselves, have better teamwork spirit and relate on a peaceful term and build a productive culture of collaboration with their co-workers as opposed to those who measured for a low EI.

With an increase in the  numbers, businesses have seen and still see the need to recruit emotionally intelligent workers, and therefore are adopting EI and personality tests as a part of the interview exercise for incoming employees and to develop old ones.

Examples of Emotional intelligence

If you are emotionally intelligent, examples of emotional intelligence attributes you would have observed in yourself is that you’re able to;

  • move on after a setback
  • receive and give criticism skillfully and in a healthy manner
  • defer judgment amidst emotions.
  • manage diverse types of people with little hitch.
  • get things done regardless of obstacles and pressure
  • manage stress well enough

It has passed the time when cognitive intellect was believed to be enough to attain goals, daily we keep being faced with reasons why emotional intelligence is important and vital amongst our skill set. While you might not have every attribute listed above, as discussed earlier emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learnt, improved upon and adjusted as needed.