Session 13: Emotional intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a person’s ability (1) to perceive emotions in the self and others (2) understand the meaning of these emotions and (3) regulate his or her own emotions accordingly. Simply put the ability to detect and to manage emotional cues and information. Unlike IQ, EQ (Emotional quotient) can be greatly enhanced through practice. Emotional intelligence has become very popular topic ever since Daniel Goleman published his book “Emotional Intelligence” in 1995. However the concept was first put forward by Salovey and Mayer in 1990.

Characteristics of emotionally intelligent people

They are able to recognize and diagnose their own emotions. Try to identify the emotions you feel as of now. Can you label it? Emotionally intelligent people are able to get in touch with and accurately diagnose their own internal feelings.

Emotionally intelligent people are also able to regulate and control their own emotions. They are less likely to blow up and lose control, less likely to experience debilitating depression and anxiety and more likely to manage their own emotional states than those with less emotional intelligence. Think of how you behave in a sporting event when someone yells at you or when someone appreciates you!! Emotionally intelligent people remain in control of their emotions whereas less emotionally intelligent people lose control. This ability does not mean being bland and indifferent. Instead, it just means that a person can control his or her emotions so that they are not unrestrained.

Emotionally intelligent people are also able to accurately diagnose and empathize with the feelings of others. They are sensitive to what others are experiencing and they can share in those feelings. Empathy refers to the ability to understand and connect with others’ feelings. It doesn’t mean sympathizing or adopting the same feelings and it is not based on a memory of having experienced the same emotions. If someone has experienced a tragedy or loss, emotionally intelligent people can empathize, share in, and understand those feelings even if they have never experienced something similar.

Emotionally intelligent people also respond appropriately to the emotions of others. Their responses match the emotions of other people feel, and they support and encourage emotional expressions. They endorse the emotional expression rather than censoring or suppressing the emotions.

Why Emotional intelligence? Is it significant?

Several studies suggest that EI plays an important role in job performance. Some reviews suggest that EI is related to groupwork effectiveness as well as deviant and citizenship behavior. South Korean managers with high EI tend to have better sales figures than those with low EI because they were able to create more cohesive stores and improved sales directed behavior. One study claimed that emotional intelligence differentiated successful leaders from unsuccessful leaders.

One reason that EI is so important is that generally the scores of EI is gradually deteriorating generation by generation, unlike the case of IQ. Emotional intelligence has also been found to be an important predictor of managerial success. In a study of managers on three continents, 74 percent of successful managers had emotional managers as their most salient characteristics whereas this was the case in only 24 percent of failure cases. A study at PepsiCo found that company units headed by managers with well-developed EI skills outperformed yearly revenue targets by about the same amount (Goleman, Boyatzi and Mckee, 2002).

How do you measure EI?

The number of instruments available to assess emotional intelligence is voluminous (more than 100) although only three or four have been scientifically validated and used in any systematic investigations. In particular, only Bar-On’s EQ-1measure (Bar-On,1997) is a self-report instrument that defines EI as an array of noncognitie skills; Salovey’s Multifactor EI scale (Salovey and Mayer, 1990)- a behavioral assessment that defines EI as “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s ow and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide ones’ thinking and action.” Goleman and Boyatzis’s Emotional competence inventory (Boyatzis et al., 2000)-a 360 degree assessment that defines EI as “the composite set of capabilities that enable a person to manage himself or herself and others,” These are the major scientifically validated EI instruments.

Some of the freely downloadable scales are in the link

Emotion regulation

If you ever have tried to cheer yourself up when you are feeling down or calm yourself when you are feeling angry? Then you have engaged in emotion regulation. The emotion regulation is to identify and modify the emotions you feel. Not all are good at emotion regulation. Individuals who are high on neuroticism (emotional stability from Big five personality) have more trouble doing so. Similarly, people who are low on self-esteem have issues with emotion regulation.

The workplace environment influences individuals’ tendency to regulate their emotions such as diverse work context makes people regulate their emotions than homogenous workplace. While regulating emotions may look beneficial, research suggests there is a downside to trying to change the way you feel. Changing your emotions takes effort and this effort can be exhausting.

Techniques to do emotional regulation

  1. Emotional labor
  2. Emotional suppression: suppression initial emotional responses to situations (used in crisis situations)
  3. Cognitive reappraisal: reframing our outlook on an emotional situation (when there is no control on sources of stress)
  4. Social sharing or venting: open expression of emotions can help individuals to regulate their emotions as opposed to keeping emotions bottled up. (used only when people accepting as venting affect people)
  5. Mindfulness technique: receptively paying attention to and being aware of the present moment, events and experiences. This has roots in Buddha philosophy.


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