Many of us are aware of the concept of “intelligence.” And although the concept has been around for more than 100 years, even some experts do not fully agree on what constitutes intelligence. In more recent years, some psychologists have even lobbied to replace intelligence with other, perhaps related, constructs.
One area of intelligence that has been growing in recent years has been the concept of “emotional intelligence.” Although not exactly new, emotional intelligence has been around at least since the 1980s, and the concept has been applied to everything from education, business, and counseling.
So how would you define emotional intelligence?
According to Author Daniel Goldman, who wrote the book titled, “Emotional Intelligence,” emotional intelligence “include[s] self-control, zeal and persistence, and the ability to motivate oneself.” He continues: “Emotional intelligence trumps I.Q. primarily in those ‘soft’ domains where intellect is relatively less relevant for success – where, for example, emotional self-regulation and empathy may be more salient skills than purely cognitive ones.”
Goldman lays out some key components of the concept. They include:
• Identifying and labeling feelings
• Expressing feelings
• Assessing the intensity of feelings
• Managing feelings
• Delaying gratification
• Controlling impulses
• Reducing stress
There are others that Goldman lists, but these are a few of the important ideas related to emotional intelligence.
Moreover, as noted by Goldman, one of the keys to an emotionally intelligent – and, therefore, and emotionally healthy – individual is, “[L]earning to make better emotionally decisions by first controlling the impulse to act, then identifying alternative actions and their consequences before acting.” In other words, part of being emotionally intelligent is knowing how to regulate moods and feelings.
One of the most interesting aspects of emotional intelligence is how is can predict future outcomes in a way traditionally I.Q. can’t. For example, when applied to children in school, Goldman writes, “While boys on a trajectory toward delinquency tend to have lower I.Q. scores than their peers, their impulsivity is more directly at cause: impulsivity in ten-year-old boys is almost three times as powerful a predictor of their later delinquency as their I.Q.”
Goldman’s point isn’t that I.Q. doesn’t matter at all; on the contrary, traditional intelligence remains important. That said, however, traditionally with so much emphasis put on intelligence as the only factor that matters, something else is missed. Emotional intelligence – as defined above – may help fill that gap.
“The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character,” writes Goldman. “By the same token, the root of altruism lines in empathy, the ability to read emotions in others; lacking a sense of other’s need or despair. . . .”
It is this altruism and character that, indeed, helps guide individuals to success.
Goldman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: What It Can Matter More than I.Q. Bantam Books, New York, NY.