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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as to discern and influence the feelings of others. It's a vital skill for personal and professional success, enhancing communication and empathy. Imagine navigating social complexities with ease—that's EI at work. Curious about how EI looks in real life? Let's explore its impact through vivid examples.
J.Gunsch
J.Gunsch

When we speak of a person’s intelligence, we usually think of his or her knowledge or capacity to acquire knowledge. However, there are many different facets of intelligence, including problem solving, artistic intelligence, reasoning ability and creative intelligence. Emotional intelligence or "EQ" is one form of intelligence that extends to and affects all human beings.

Emotions, as most of know, are a powerful tool in motivating actions. When someone does something that we don’t quite understand, they might tell us to ‘walk a mile in my shoes.’ This is because emotion very often overrides reason and causes outsiders to think that one is acting in irrational ways. A person with adequate emotional intelligence takes into account the existence and power of emotions and sees the necessity in situations that others may find unreasonable.

People with alexithymia have low emotional intelligence.
People with alexithymia have low emotional intelligence.

EQ refers to the effectiveness of an individual’s response to his or her own feelings or emotions and to those of others. A person with high emotional intelligence is very adept at understanding and properly responding in an appropriate way to the nuances of social situations. An emotionally intelligent person can use his or her understanding of emotion in harmony with good reasoning skills to make reasonable decisions while maintaining good relationships.

People with low EQ may be unable to control their emotions.
People with low EQ may be unable to control their emotions.

A person with low emotional intelligence will likely misinterpret, deny or disregard the impact of human emotion that is present in virtually every social situation. A person with alexithymia, a severe state of low EQ, lacks the verbal ability to express emotion or to describe emotions in others. Those who struggle with alexithymia report to psychologists feeling no emotion at all, as well as a lack of dreaming, fantasizing and creative imagining.

An individual with mild cognitive and developmental disabilities may have a low IQ but a high EQ.
An individual with mild cognitive and developmental disabilities may have a low IQ but a high EQ.

Emotional intelligence, like other aspects of intelligence, lies on a broad spectrum. Similar to a test for a person’s intelligence quotient (IQ), the level or score of EQ can be determined and analyzed for individual people. These tests aim to show how a person responds to the feelings of others, as well as how he understands his own, how he deals with social situations and the appropriateness of his response through a series of questions that mimic real life circumstances.

A person with low emotional intelligence may be unable to verbally express emotion or to describe emotions in others.
A person with low emotional intelligence may be unable to verbally express emotion or to describe emotions in others.

Interestingly, unlike other forms of intelligence, some researchers believe that emotional intelligence can be taught or trained. They believe that with practice, a person can replace former low intelligent behaviors with more appropriate ones and thus improve her interactions with others as well as her own quality of life.

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Discussion Comments

anon45149

people that don't understand emotional problems might tell you to walk a mile in their shoes. EQis one of the ways of measuring a person's ability to be successful in life. IQis one of the ways of measuring a person's emotional intelligence.

anon44879

the need for understanding and managing negative emotions.

anon40994

what is the relationship between e.q. and i.q.?

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    • People with alexithymia have low emotional intelligence.
      By: alexandre zveiger
      People with alexithymia have low emotional intelligence.
    • People with low EQ may be unable to control their emotions.
      By: Linda More
      People with low EQ may be unable to control their emotions.
    • An individual with mild cognitive and developmental disabilities may have a low IQ but a high EQ.
      By: Miriam Dörr
      An individual with mild cognitive and developmental disabilities may have a low IQ but a high EQ.
    • A person with low emotional intelligence may be unable to verbally express emotion or to describe emotions in others.
      By: Sabphoto
      A person with low emotional intelligence may be unable to verbally express emotion or to describe emotions in others.
    • Someone with low emotional intelligence may constantly feel anxious about life.
      By: Syda Productions
      Someone with low emotional intelligence may constantly feel anxious about life.
    • Someone who has a high EQ is sympathetic to the emotions of the people around them.
      By: olly
      Someone who has a high EQ is sympathetic to the emotions of the people around them.
    • Children who have a low EQ will react more emotionally to situations.
      By: Cheryl Casey
      Children who have a low EQ will react more emotionally to situations.