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Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence is generally said to include a few skills: namely emotional awareness, or the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions; the ability to harness those emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes both regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same.

The Roots of Emotional Intelligence

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The theory of emotional intelligence was introduced by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in the 1990s, and further developed and brought to the lay public by Daniel Goleman. The concept, also known as emotional quotient or EQ, has gained wide acceptance. However, some psychologists argue that because EQ cannot be captured via psychometric tests (as can, for example, general intelligence), it lacks true explanatory power.

How self-aware is an emotionally intelligent person?

The emotionally intelligent are highly conscious of their own emotional states, even negative ones—from frustration or sadness to something more subtle. They are able to identify and understand what they are feeling, and being able to name an emotion helps manage that emotion. Because of this, the emotionally intelligent have high self-confidence and are realistic about themselves.

Do the emotionally intelligent have a better handle on self-regulation?

A person high in EQ is not impulsive or hasty with their actions. They think before they do. This translates into steady emotion regulation, or the ability to reduce how intense an emotion feels. Taking anger or anxiety down a notch is called down-regulation. The emotionally intelligent are able to shift gears and lighten mood, both internally and externally.

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How to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

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We are naturally drawn to a person with high EQ. We are comfortable and at ease with their easy rapport. It feels as though they can read social cues with superhuman ability. Perhaps they can even mind-read how other people feel to some extent. This effortlessness is welcome in all domains of life—at home, in social settings, and at work. Who wouldn’t want a boss who understood how you are feeling and what you are trying to accomplish?

Can I learn to be more emotionally intelligent?

Yes, you can. You can start by learning to identify the emotions you are feeling as well as understanding them. If you are able to name the emotion you are feeling, you have a better chance of understanding what you are feeling. You can also learn to better regulate your emotions just by stopping and thinking before you act and judge. These skills will help you martial inner resolve and stick to what really matters in life.

Are the emotionally intelligent higher performers in the workplace?

While some studies have found a link between emotional intelligence and job performance, many others have shown no correlation whatsoever, and the lack of a scientifically valid scale makes it difficult to truly measure or predict how emotionally intuitive a person may be on the job or in other areas of life.

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