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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Let's start with the definition given to us back in 1990 by the people who coined the phrase, Peter Salovey and John Mayer.


“a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action”

Cognitive intelligence is the default landing place when most of us think about intelligence. Intellectual prowess is the thing we strive for. Benchmarks like grades and test scores reinforce the idea that how "smart" we are is how we succeed, and how we judge one another. We brag about things like being on the honor roll and and hold test scores up as measures of worth.


What if there were another way to be intelligent that had nothing to do with your IQ, your grades, or your test scores? What if the way we build confidence in ourselves and our children isn't based on an unchangeable number like IQ, but can instead be grown, shaped, and learned- and that it changes the quality of our day to day lives?


This is exactly what emotional intelligence can do.


My definition of emotional intelligence is this:


Emotional intelligence is the ability to know and be aware of yourself, your affect on others, and how to use emotional information to effectively guide you to create strong relationships, infinite mindset, and inner confidence.

It is a skill that can be taught, and is a lifelong evolution. Right now, you have emotional intelligence. There are ways you are already an emotional genius, and ways in which you are simply a beginner. To me, the most exciting thing about emotional intelligence is that it is something everyone has, and that everyone can individually mold to fit the shape of their own lives. That our emotional capabilities are unique and adaptable gives us a tool that is incredibly reliable and useful- if we know how to use it.


Emotional Intelligence has four basic components.


  1. Self-awareness: being aware of and in touch with your own emotions, and using those emotions to guide your life. This is the ability to know and name your emotions and how they affect you.

  2. Self-management: ability to understand, balance, and manage your own emotions. This influences how you communicate and perform in all situations.

  3. Social awareness: understanding how to act/react in different social situations to effectively communicate others to get the best results. This is how you interact with others, how you present yourself, noticing your influence on others- and their influence on you.

  4. Relationship management: building connection, influencing, and developing others, managing conflict well. This is a combination of the first three components and is present in all aspects of your life- from a simple transaction at the grocery store, driving in traffic, your co-workers, to how you communicate with those closest to you.


Growing your emotional intelligence in each of these areas has huge positive impacts your personal and professional life. More and more the research points to our human skills as the predictor of success. The smartest person in the room is no longer the one with the high IQ, it's the person with the ability to connect and collaborate, to see themselves for who they are, and who can manage themselves and others well.


In practical terms, the what of emotional intelligence gives us the areas we can understand and improve. These are the places we can look at with honesty and curiosity so that we can all learn to work better together.


Being able to show, regulate, and understand emotions is a changer in all parts of your life, and in my next post I'll talk more about why.








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