Defining Emotional Intelligence

By Rachel North – March 02, 2021
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What is it?

For a long time, people considered IQ tests to be the standard for measuring human intelligence. However, as we delve deeper into how people think and operate, it becomes clear that the parameters of an IQ test aren’t enough to cover the numerous elements that make up human intelligence. The human intellect is vast and unquantifiable, and simple evidence can be shown in two people who may have the same IQ score, but live wildly different lives.  

Whether one person scores highly on an IQ test and another lower on the scale doesn’t mean that they won’t end up working in the same position in a bank, a hotel, or a multi-national company. Someone may have fantastic social skills that help them rise the ranks at work, whereas another person is there because of their strategic abilities. A high IQ may help you understand the maths question, but if you haven’t studied the possible outcomes, then you still won’t know the answer. Your dedication isn’t taken into account by an IQ test, just as how you get along with others can’t be determined by a simple exam. Is this part of your intelligence? Certainly, but it’s part of your emotional intelligence, which may not be as easy to measure, but it’s definitely important in terms of how you approach life.

Both emotional and academic intelligence can be effective in boosting your opportunities in life. Academic smarts will help you pass exams and will advance you in areas where logic is necessary and valued. Having strong emotional intelligence will smooth your pathway with the people around you - whoever you need to deal with on a daily basis. If you have high emotional intelligence, you’ll understand others better, which leads to empathy and consideration.

How to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

American psychologist and science journalist, Daniel Goleman, first explored the topic of emotional intelligence in his 1995 book of the same name. He defined it as the ability to recognize our own and other people’s emotions, control our own emotions and manage our emotional relationships. Goleman believes that emotional intelligence is far more important than a high intellect and although we can be born equipped with high emotional intelligence, there are five key areas we can focus on, to improve it:

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-regulation of our emotions

  • Empathy

  • Social skills

  • Motivation.