Emotional Intelligence (EI): Becoming an Effective, Mature and Decent Human Being

Post1EIWelcome to EI-Psych. EI stands for emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a modern day term for being an effective, mature and decent human being. Emotional intelligence simply stated is “the ability to recognize, understand and effectively manage your emotions and behavior.”[1]  In its more common usage it also includes the interpersonal aspect as well, thus the ability to recognize, understand and effectively manage the emotions and behaviors of others. Daniel Goleman has both popularized and further developed this idea in several books and articles on the subject. He has boiled the concept of EI into a simple chart that shows the four basic categories of EI: Self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship-management:

Awareness

Behavior

Other

Social Awareness

Relationship Management

Self

Self-Awareness

Self-Management

EI-Psych is a blog committed to facilitating a discussion and enhancing growth around this most basic and vital human capacity, EI.  Because of its deep penetration into the human experience, I will talk about EI as it pertains to a few broad categories of human interaction. Sigmund Freud once said that the essence of living is Love & Work. (I would add a third category that takes in some sort of reflective or even spiritual essence that would include concepts like mindfulness.)  Therefore in EI-Psych we will focus on Work relationships (leadership, employee engagement and teams) as well as Love relationships (couples, parents and friendships) with an occasional reference to all things “Spiritual.”  (We will let the reader know in the beginning of each blog the “categories” that we will touch on in the article du jour.)

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a modern-day term for being an effective, mature and decent human being. A good deal of research on EI has been done in the area of management and leadership. Although not all studies are unequivocal, the preponderance of research support the idea that the higher the level of emotional intelligence, the more effective the leader; and, the poorer the emotional intelligence, the poorer the leader’s effectiveness. A business owner once hired me to “make his project managers more emotionally intelligent.” I do not have to convince any reader of this idea who has ever worked for a boss who is overly demanding, impatient and rude. This boss does not bring the best out of people.  However a boss who is firm and clear while being positive, fair and grateful will get us to be our best.

No doubt the same is true in other relationships outside of work, such as with friendship, dating, marriage and parenting. In this way, EI is a measure of social and personal maturity.  When we think of people who are mature, we think of people who, first and foremost, know themselves accurately and honestly. They have self-control; they know other people and know how to manage the relationships they are in without being a manipulative brut or self-sacrificing. In other words, these mature individuals are emotionally intelligent. Last but not least, emotionally intelligent leaders, spouses, parents and friends are “decent” people. They have integrity. I love the word integrity. Integrity has three meanings: (1) adherence to a code, incorruptible; (2) soundness—like a building has integrity; and, (3) Completeness, as in integrated.  Emotionally intelligent people have integrity, don’t they? They are “good” people who are sound (strong) and are well balanced.

IQ, intellectual intelligence, does not seem to change much over time without specific interventions. If you had an IQ of 115 when you were 8 years old, you are likely to have an IQ near 115 when you are 48 years old. Is this also true of EQ (another way to say EI)?  Yes and no—the answer to this is complicated.  We do inherit certain genes that affect and effect our EI. It is postulated for example that 50 percent of our ability to be happy is hard-wired at conception. We also have positive and negative experiences as children that will drastically and permanently influence our EI as adults. The good news—in this “glass half empty” scenario—is that the glass is also half-full! We have 50 percent that we can work with as adults that can make a BIG impact on the quality of our lives and our relationships. (I often say to my clients that even a little change is a lot of change.)

So stay tuned. Together, let’s leverage the 50 percent that we can change. Join us as we consider this most important human capacity. Just imagine what difference it would make in your life if you were more positive with your spouse, led your team at work with more effectiveness, could be less reactive with your challenging child or more patient with (yes) your mother-in-law. Emotional intelligence is intelligence you can live with.


[1] This definition is taken from an introduction to an emotional intelligence 360 assessment developed by Kenneth M. Nowack, Ph.D. and released by Envisia Learning’s © 2003.
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5 comments
  1. Sam – It’s GREAT to have you here.

    This topic of yours is one of which I am deeply fond, for many reasons. Certainly a central one is that the people with whom I work – those living with the enduring effects of psychological trauma and dissociation – have profoundly compromised EI.

    Recovery, for them, oftens means not merely regaining the EI they formerly had, but also attempting to remediate the effects of years of lost learning that might have occurred had they not involuntarily become impaired. In addition, for many, recovery means have new and extraordinary insight into and empathy for the plight of others, simply because of what they learned about trauma and its dynamics.

    This is a topic absolutely central to what it means to be fully human. I look forward to reading your observations and thoughts here in the future!

    • Dr. Sam said:

      Thanks for you thoughts Tom (I just saw them now). And thank you for working with such an important group of people –those living with the enduring effects of psychological trauma and dissociation. EI is certainly relevant to their journey.

  2. Lynda Zimmerman said:

    you explain the EL idea so clearly and succinctly – in a way
    that the common person can understand and relate to. EL is such a crucial subject in order to become a wise, influencial adult…I read
    that book you mentioned many moons ago, but always need a refresher course… I signed up to follow your blog so am looking fwd to
    more wise tidbits. I’m also passing this blog on to psych oriented friends who want to continue to grow and learn…

    • Lynda Zimmerman said:

      I meant E I vs E L

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