The concept of emotional intelligence became popular after
the immense success of Daniel Goleman's book in 1995, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can
Matter More Than IQ.
It was followed by a second best seller in 1998 by the same
author, Working with Emotional Intelligence. The business community was rocked by the
research that overwhelmingly showed that up to 90 percent of one's performance
effectiveness was due to emotional savvy rather than technological knowledge.
In a country where IQ and SAT scores have dominated
thinking on who is likely to succeed, the evidence is now clear that people skills are far
more important when it comes to the bottom line. For many years it had been considered
inappropriate to show or to have emotions in a work situation. An overwhelming amount of
research shows that not only are emotions very much a part of the work experience, but to
a large degree they set the course that a company follows.
Unlike IQ, which is set and unchangeable from childhood on,
emotional intelligence can be developed, and in fact, usually does become greater with age
and maturity. The importance of developing one's emotional intelligence is essential to
success in the workplace. Utilizing the power and energy of one's emotions leads to high
motivation, increased problem-solving and improved decision-making.
Understanding emotions contributes toward building an
emotionally intelligent organization. An emotionally intelligent organization can be
- everyone communicates with understanding and respect,
- where people set group goals and help others work toward
- and where enthusiasm and confidence in the organization are
Emotional Intelligence describes abilities distinct from
and complementary to academic intelligence, the purely cognitive capacities measured by
IQ. In 1983 Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, listed seven kinds of intelligence
including knowing one's inner world and social adeptness.
Peter Salovey of Yale and John Mayer of the University of
New Hampshire coined the term "emotional intelligence" in 1990 and proposed a
comprehensive theory. Salovey and Mayer defined emotional intelligence in terms of being
able to monitor and regulate one's own and other's feelings, and to use feelings to guide
thought and action.
Goleman defines it as the capacity for recognizing our own
feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in
ourselves and in our relationships.
The fact that the term emotional intelligence
encompasses so many abilities and competencies dilutes the impact of its meaning. Perhaps
Hendrie Weisinger in his 1998 definition says it best: Quite simply, emotional
intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions! It is emotionally intelligent when you
intentionally make emotions work for you by using them to help guide your behavior and
thinking in ways that enhance your results.
Most people have trouble managing situations that are
emotionally charged, especially when the emotions aroused are anger and anxiety. When this
difficulty is accompanied by, or causes, poor communications skills, then people really do
get into trouble. Those individuals who are able to handle their emotions, not just the
expression or regulation of them, but who are also able to generate the kinds of emotions
that are productive and efficient, are indeed emotionally intelligent.
Research into emotions has been greatly enhanced by
brain-imaging technologies in the last decade. For the first time ever, scientists have
been able to study the functioning of the brain on living subjects and to map out the
centers responsible for thinking and feeling.
As thinking human beings, we value our rationality and
cognitive powers that set us apart from the animal kingdom. The neo-cortex, the center for
rational thinking and decision-making, is the newer part of the brain that is highly
developed in humans. The emotional parts of the brain are located in the more ancient,
central parts of the brain called the limbic system, including the amygdala, the center
active during anger.
All emotions are in essence impulses to act. The very root
of the word is from the Latin verb to move. That emotions lead to actions is obvious from
watching animals or children. Only in civilized adults do we expect actions to be divorced
from emotional reactions. But even as highly intelligent and civilized adults, we can
never disengage our emotional brain¾ it is always there, sending emotional signals to act
and react, even when there is no logic.
Most people believe that emotions are caused by events.
They are in fact caused by our interpretations of events, sometimes so fleeting and fast
as to be beneath the level of consciousness. Our pre-conscious, split-second thoughts give
rise to automatic emotional reactions. We then have a choice as to how we behave, what we
say, and how we handle a situation. The appropriateness of our actions and the
effectiveness of our communications make up our emotional intelligence. A person who is
highly-developed emotionally becomes sensitive to pre-conscious thoughts, questions their
validity and appropriateness, and is able to directly influence feelings, thoughts and
Social scientists have long been aware that IQ tests are
inadequate for predicting success in life. IQ scores account for as little as 25% in
predicting future success in college. In the work environment, technical savvy and
knowledge may contribute as little as four to ten percent towards performance
effectiveness. Over ninety percent of effectiveness at work is attributed to one's
emotional intelligence. EQ, a term coined to express the measure of one's emotional
intelligence, has been proposed as the answer to why some people with average IQs end up
more successful in life than some with brilliant IQ scores.
What is "EQ" and how do you measure it?
IQ is a measure of one's cognitive abilities, and has been
quantified and validated by scientists since the first decades of this century. IQ
measures spatial and mathematical reasoning, verbal comprehension, information and memory.
To measure one's emotional functioning is a more
complicated task. First, one has to precisely define the components of emotionally
intelligence. Then, one has to design questions that can be scientifically validated as
measuring what they set out to measure.
It is useful to look at Goleman's five major factors of
emotional intelligence. He summarizes emotional intelligence into the following
- Emotional self-awareness
- Managing one's own emotions
- Using emotions to maximize intellectual processing and
decision-making, including self-motivation
- Developing empathy
- The art of social relationships and managing emotions in
In 1997, Dr. Reuven Bar-On developed the
"E.Q.-I", an "emotional intelligence inventory" published by
Multi-Health Systems, Inc. It has been validated on over 4000 subjects in North America of
Although they were so small as to be statistically
insignificant, there were some gender differences. More specifically, women are more aware
of their emotions, show more empathy, relate better interpersonally, and act more socially
responsible than men. Men appear to have better self-regard, are more independent, solve
problems better, are more flexible, and cope better with stress.
A look at what the "E.Q.-I" measures contributes
to an understanding of the components of emotional intelligence.
- Intrapersonal Components
- Interpersonal Components
- Adaptability Components
A. Problem Solving
B. Reality Testing
- Stress Management Components
B. Impulse Control
- General Mood Components
How does one scientifically measure someone's happiness?
The E.Q.-I is a self-report test, as are other such tests designed to measure emotional
intelligence. It is limited by the honesty, insight and awareness of the person taking the
test. There is no way yet to accurately measure one's emotional intelligence, and all
tests purporting to do so are really measuring one's self-perception. Nevertheless,
such information can be useful in designing coaching programs and planning goals for
personal and professional growth.
Other tests that propose to measure "E.Q." are
Daniel Goleman's Emotional Competence Inventory, the Simmons Personal Survey, and Robert
K. Cooper's "EQ Map." All allow an individual to chart strengths and
vulnerabilities on emotional intelligence components.
Application: Why Learning the Skills of Emotional
Intelligence is Crucial
When Daniel Goleman first talked about emotional
intelligence he made a big point about how everyday we are assaulted by news in the media
of someone gone berserk. People lose control of their emotions and go on rampant shooting
sprees. Since 1995, we have been further shocked by several occurrences of school children
killing other children.
What is happening in this country that on financial,
technological, and business levels seems to be so far advanced and sophisticated? The
evidence of emotional dysfunction and personal discomfort is apparent on every level from
the school room to the board room of major corporations.
There is a need to teach how to relate to others using
emotional intelligence, how to develop one's EQ, and how to apply the knowledge of
emotional intelligence in the work place.
More than ever, one's competency at work will be determined
and evaluated on emotional intelligence. In today's world of diminishing job security,
one's personal growth and development must include strengthening of emotional capacities
in order to survive.
Although many authors have jumped on the current popularity
of the concept, there are only a few books that are adept at providing steps to improve
one's E.Q. Three books stand out in their ability to teach the tools of emotional
- Robert K. Cooper's Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in
Leadership and Organizations (1997),
- Hendrie Weisinger's Emotional Intelligence at Work (1998),
- Seymour Epstein's Constructive Thinking, the Key to
Emotional Intelligence (1998).
Daniel Goleman makes a strong case for working with a coach
to improve one's E.Q. in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Indeed,
emotional competencies would be difficult to learn from a book, and must be strengthened
by working with another individual, preferably a professional familiar with the
individual's needs and environment.
Teaming, Group IQ and How it is Affected by EQ:
When emotions are acknowledged and guided constructively,
they enhance intellectual performance. Robert Rosenthal, a Harvard expert on empathy, has
shown that when people administering IQ tests treat their subjects warmly, the test scores
In meetings and in group settings where people come
together to collaborate, there is a strong sense of a group IQ, the sum total of
intellectual knowledge and skills in the room. The most important element in a group's
intelligence is not the average or highest IQ, but emotional intelligence. A single
participant who is low in EQ can lower the collective IQ of the entire group. Robert
Sternberg and Wendy Williams of Yale have studied this "group IQ."
Thus, a group may be able to work smarter than its members'
collective intelligences would suggest, but it can also rapidly work dumber by not
allowing people to share talents and by allowing destructive discontent, domineering, or
infighting to degrade performance and stymie progress.
This has obvious impact on the effectiveness of teams and
work groups. Today's fast-changing work environments require more open and fluid work
styles. Teaming, in order to be effective, requires people to have a high degree of both
intellect and EQ. People need to be able to handle their own and other's emotions in order
to trust and team up for problem-solving and decision-making.
Ten Steps for Promoting Your Emotional Intelligence
- Know yourself well through the use of assessment tools to
understand your strengths and vulnerabilities.
- Work with a mentor or personal coach to improve your EQ.
- Identify the causes of feelings: become aware of
split-second, preconscious thoughts and their possible distortions.
- Become aware of your emotional style: what do you do to
- Learn to differentiate between emotion and the subsequent
need to take action.
a) The need to promote action in response to avoidance, withdrawal, and sadness.
b) The need to inhibit action in response to anger and hostility.
- Acquire the skills of "learned optimism": what is
your personal explanatory style? How do you explain events to yourself, both good and bad?
Increase your optimism when appropriate and beneficial.
- Listening for the "lessons" of feelings: turn
mistakes into energy.
- Using "somatic markers" in decision-making: trust
your gut and use it.
- Developing listening skills and in asking open-ended
questions: "listening is the best way to get your point across."
- Increase positive feedback to yourself, to others. Learn to
reframe negatives. Increase your appreciation of yourself and others.