Emotional Intelligence

“Emotional intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not about you.” ~ Peter Stark

People once thought a high IQ (Intelligence Quotient) would guarantee that an individual would rise above everyone else. As a stand-alone measure, that outcome is no longer the case. Enter EQ (Emotional Intelligence), an array of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.

EQ is about being aware of your own feelings in yourself and those of others, regulating those feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships. Another way to contrast the two: IQ defines how smart you are, EQ determines how well you use your gift of intelligence. People with high EQ’s are better equipped to make use of their cognitive abilities.

In 2009, I became certified to administer, interpret results, and debrief respondents of the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i), a premier tool used to measure emotional intelligence. When considered in tandem, IQ and EQ are important factors in determining one’s ability to succeed in life. Case in point: people with high IQ’s but low EQ’s sometime sabotage themselves because they are unable to relate to their peers, cannot handle stress constructively, and find emotional connections difficult to maintain.

There are many ways in which to heighten awareness of your emotional intelligence. If you’re interested in embracing your uniqueness and the uniqueness of others, here are four ways in which to:

  1. Become more self-aware. This involves paying attention to yourself and your surroundings in a positive manner. Knowing who you are comes in big here. If you don’t know who you are how can you expect to know others? Ask yourself: “Why do I act like that?” “Why do I have certain beliefs?” “Why do I find it so confronting to have my beliefs challenged?”
  2. Be more flexible. Being emotionally intelligent involves knowing when to stick to and when to switch your emotional attachments. When it’s time to move on, people high in emotional intelligence can make that adjustment. If you find change difficult, look at the possible consequences. What might happen if you stay with the status quo? On the other hand, where might you be if you go with the flow? Change is part of growth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Tune into your reactions. In a given situation, when your voice begins to rise or you find yourself getting impatient, pause and name that emotion and then try to determine which of your core values is being challenged and thus, resulting in your emotional response. This begins to move you out of reaction and into a more considered response.
  4. If you don’t know how you’re feeling, ask someone else. People seldom realize that others are able to judge how they are feeling. Ask someone who knows you (and whom you trust) how you are coming across. You may find the answer both surprising and interesting.

65 thoughts on “Emotional Intelligence

  1. Most interesting. In the late 60s early 70s I was part of an educational experiment. All grade 3 children in the school district were given IQ tests – the top 30 scorers were taken out of the regular system and placed in one “major works” class. For 4 years we were left to our own devices – from age 8 or 9 until age 12, we decided what we wanted to learn. No basic math, grammar, science unless we felt like it. I read a lot of books. In Canada high school begins at grade 8 – the school board scraped the program as an utter failure – we landed in high school as “freaks” lacking basic education. I look back on those classmates – at least 3 died of drug overdoses, several committed suicide as young adults, a handful more “dropped out” and to this day live isolated solitary lives. A handful more became musicians eking out an existence on the bar circuit. Perhaps 5 or 6 went on to higher education.

    Fascinating post – thanks.

    • And yours, a fascinating experience and story. Thank you for shedding light on a real world IQ perspective from an era gone by. In part, your share begs the question, why did/do we experiment with children and try to ‘fit’ them into certain molds (or lack of molds).

      • It was an “era gone by” – things were pretty whacky during those years. As for “molds” and children – off the top of my head – children have no say in the matter and parents are easily persuaded.

    • And there is another measure emerging, Don…MQ which addresses one’s moral quotient. We can’t say the social and psychological researchers aren’t keeping busy! But I agree with you, the reign of a singular assessment with too much weight aligned, was equal parts constructive and destructive (the last part, my two cents).

  2. EQ sounds very interesting as a concept. I shall read this over and hopefully learn to share and to apply some of your suggestions my friend.
    Always thought provoking posts
    Hope that life is good?

  3. I really like the pointers that you give. There’s always something there that I’m not yet doing that I should work on. I’m not so good at controlling my emotions once they begin to take a turn for the worse.

    • Appreciate your reading and acknowledging the message, Reggie. I suspect many of us can always be even more aware of our emotions and how we respond to them. To your comments, “…doing that I should work on,” perhaps a reframing in which you view the learning opportunity as one you ‘choose’ to work on. 🙂

      • Hmm… I see what you mean. I’m usually so concerned with what others think that I’m changing myself for them and not for myself.

  4. So while we cannot alter our IQ, we can make better use of it by adapting the flaws in our EQ? 😀
    I wonder if EQ increases with maturity? I mean do we score differently on EQ test as we mature with age and experience in dealing with life’s ups & downs? 😀

    • Ina, finding support the case that EQ not only changes over time but that it does become more present/pronounced as people chronologically age. Testimony, perhaps, to a variation on the adage… With age comes wisdom. Just a different kind of wisdom. 🙂

  5. Great post, Eric. Inavukic poses a great question about the EQ changing as we age. I’d assume it’s much like any fluid quality within us and that we can work to promote changes. Hopefully, positive changes. 🙂

  6. Was tortured in grade school by teachers constantly saying that I was not living/working up to my IQ. I don’t believe they should know what a child’s IQ is! They use it as a weapon.

    • Over the years, teachers have been given (or naturally possess) the right and/or the wrong tools to optimize learning experiences for children. My sense it that emerging tools and techniques are helping them do a much better job today. Or maybe not!

    • I concur with your word choices – accurate and realistic – Susan. I suspect those who study this science/field finally came to similar realizations and developed tools that allow us to see and measure equally, if not more, valuable facets to our being.

      • Yes, as an integrated being we have so much more to offer… holistically we need to ensure all parts are equally attended to. (sorry brain is beginning to slow down) I find more and more we need to look at balance – not just externally but internally and then world wide. If we can work out how to maintain a global balance we may yet solve some of the more dire problems we face. Sorry, slightly off topic but it has been on my mind. Balance and integration seem key elements in the next step.
        Blessings, Susan x

  7. Like “Notes to Ponder” we also performed this same experiment when I was in elementary school. I’d never given much thought to how we children faired after leaving the program and throughout life, but in retrospect…those of us who embraced the program and took it as a wonderful challenge were placed in accelerated programs in middle school and graduated with honors. Others eked out…and still those who were defiant seemed to be the ones who dropped out of high school. Where they are in life now would be interesting to see.

    • I guess I was educated in pretty much ‘stay the course/status quo’ schools. I have read and heard about experimental programs that brought value to learning experiences and that hampered same. In the end, I believe the emergence of these more ‘sophisticated’ measures are helping to shed light on what was always there. Researchers and teaching professionals just didn’t have the tools to highlight other qualities/talents/gifts. Now we do!

  8. Another helpful post Eric. Emotional intelligence is a critical skill that I’m still working on. Many of us have overly relied on mind, neglecting emotions, body & spirit.wisdom As I learn to integrate these aspects of myself, I make better choices aligned with what’s important to me.

  9. Terrific as always, Eric, but even more relevant to me than usual. I will have to ponder it still quite a bit. I have only once done an IQ test, and I got 40. I argued with every question: “The brown cow is in the field. What colour is the cow?” To which I would respond, “What cow are we talking about? The one in the field, or another one?” etc. The EQ I have never done, but would like to! Myers Briggs has been my sole personality testing, and I “conditioned” my response to what I wanted the outcome to be… (That’s a fairly cunning thing to do on an IQ of 40!)

    • My friend, Bruce, the manipulator… the test skewer. 🙂 I suspect your IQ is a tad higher than 40. And while people do “condition” their assessment responses, there are some interesting (scientifically validated) features built into assessments and measuring tools today that identify the ‘conditioning attempts.’ You may think you are cunning but… Thanks for your humorous and real world perspective/response. There are others out there like you. 🙂

  10. “Tune into your reactions…” Yes, never ignore your reactions; this is most important. I learned the hard way, never, ever make a decision when you’re upset, angry, jealous or have had your feelings hurt. Doing that can point your life in the wrong direction, irrevocably.

    • But you learned and you see it as a learning experience, as difficult as it may have been. And this has awakened you to changed ways in which you now process and choose. Thank you for sharing your hard-earned wisdom!

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  12. That last one peaked my interest. My husband can tell when I’m getting upset before I know it myself. It annoys me when he tells me to calm down before I realize my level of being overwhelmed or angry. Now reading this last suggestion, I am more likely to listen closer to my husband’s words.

    • Who knew, right? Of course others (at least those who know us well) can detect our emotions. Observation over any significant amount of time is going to yield some predictability. New awareness for Glynis! Glad you are considering listening more closely to his words. And hopefully, he – yours. 🙂

  13. I’m so glad you wrote this! EQ is not something that is often addressed, but it is so vital to individual development. Your tips are great! All things I use in my life on a regular basis, but still need to practice more often. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Eric!

    • Ahh, but you’re doing it , Kaela! You are well ahead of many others. Kudos! Regularly practicing them will only create more self-awareness and add to your personal development. Thanks for adding your own experiences to this thread.

  14. Great post! I think only IQ is not sufficient. We can have a high IQ, but in this way we risk to look like robots. Emotions are important to understand who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, and above all people we relate with.
    Thanks for your post 🙂

    • I like your robotic view, Andrea. It’s apt! I concur, too, that emotions are essential to living as whole beings. They are a significant part of what makes each of us unique and often, creates strong bonds between people. If only more people would be open to expressing and sharing their emotions and being more aware of their EQ, we might just be in a better place!

  15. I think that this is what changed my life. I became aware of my feelings. My emotions became connected, related, linked, or relevant to my brain. I think that emotions are what drives people even in the absence of the information they require to make decisions.

  16. Found this article very interesting and right on point. A laughed with the opening quote, “Emotional intelligence is when you finally realize it’s not about you” because as a self proclaimed emotional infant, I somehow always think it is about me. Great tips! Will be recommending your blog to others.

    • Alma, please pardon this belated reply. I often find myslef playing ‘catch-up’ with comments posted well after a post. Still, I very much appreciate your creating time to read and share your thoughts. Several people found the opening quote mention-worthy. And to your self-acknowledgment, I believe many of us periodically think/feel “it is about me. ” 🙂

      • I do know what you mean about playing catch-up. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to respond. I thoroughly enjoy your great content and well written posts.

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  19. IQ also determines how you use your intelligence. Think about it. IQ tests have problems that test this aspect too.

    I think the more apt description of both is…is IQ measures mental ability while EQ measures mental attitude.

    • Thank you, K, for adding your thoughts. One of the many facets that I enjoy about the blogging community is that there exists a rich diversity of views. Yours adds to many other definitions and views. 🙂

  20. I think ‘sense’ is the most important. It the ‘combination’ of both IQ and EQ. They both combine to form ‘sense’.

    And adequate amounts of IQ and EQ need to be there and be nicely ‘integrated’ with each other for a person to have adequate sense and fully succeed. And sense also obviously depends on how much IQ and EQ a person has. This is how i feel EQ and IQ help people succeed…as they both contribute to sense.

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