Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient) is a relatively recent behavioral model developed during the 70s and the 80s by the psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer; rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

According to the two psychologists the 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”.

Emotional intelligence is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the emotional quotient principles provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviors, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills and potential.

It links strongly with concepts of love and spirituality; bringing compassion and humanity to work, and also to ‘multiple intelligence’ theory, which illustrates, as already said, that conventional ways of measuring intelligence are too narrow and restrictive. In fact there are wider areas of Emotional

Intelligence that dictate and enable how successful we are.

Different approaches and theoretical models have been developed for Emotional Intelligence:

According to Goleman interpretation, in fact, the emotional intelligence consists of five components:

  • Self-awareness. The ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others. It depends on one’s ability to monitor one own’s emotion state and to correctly identify and name’s one emotions.
  • Self-regulation. The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgement and to think before acting.
  • Internal motivation. A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond external rewards. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.
  • The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.
  • Social skills. Proficiency in managing relationship, and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport.

According to Mayer and Salovey instead, Emotional Quotient can be divided into four broad areas, depending on the number of human capacities involved in identifying and understanding emotions.

  1. Perceiving emotions. The initial area has to do with the nonverbal reception and expression of emotion. Emotional expression evolved in animal species as a form of crucial social communication. The capacity to accurately perceive emotions in the face or voice of others provides a crucial starting point for more advanced understanding of emotions.
  2. Using emotions to facilitate thoughts. This is the capacity of the emotions to enter into and guide the cognitive system and promote thinking. It is pointed out that emotions prioritize thinking. In other words: something we respond to emotionally, is something that grabs our attention. Having a good system of emotional input, therefore, should helped direct thinking toward matters that are truly important.
  3. Understanding emotions. Emotions convey informations. Each emotion conveys its own pattern of possible messages, and actions associated with those messages. Understanding emotional messages and the actions associated with them is one important aspect of this area of skill. Fully understanding emotions involves comprehension of the meaning of emotions, coupled with the capacity to reason about those meanings.
  4. Managing emotions. Finally, emotions often can be managed. To the extent that it is under voluntary control, a person may want to remain open to emotional signals so long as they are not too painful, and block out those that are overwhelming.

In between, within the person’s emotional comfort zone, it becomes possible to regulate and manage one’s own and others’ emotions so as to promote one’s own and others’ personal and social goals. The means and methods for emotional self-regulation has become a topic of increasing research in this decade.

At the end Emotional Intelligence is a part of human personality, and personality provides the context in which emotional intelligence operates.

Emotional intelligence can be considered a mental ability that involves the ability to reason validly with emotional information, and the action of emotions to enhance thought.

Personality can be defined as a person’s pattern of internal experience and social interaction that arises from the action of that individual’s major psychological subsystems. Major psychological subsystems involve emotion, cognition, and the self, among others.

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